Mine is a story of luck and privilege. But you wouldn't be able to tell that just from looking at the ending. A baby dies. Have I ruined the story for you yet?
So perhaps it doesn't sound that lucky. It was my baby that died after all. And privilege? Is it a privilege to have your baby die? In my case, I and my family...and my baby... were all very lucky and very privileged.
I've been thinking about the idea of "lucky"—only to find that slinking right along with it I find Lucky's evil sister, "Unlucky." I keep kicking these ideas around, like that pile of clothes that always seems to appear at the foot of my closet. Lucky, unlucky, I still ask myself what what we were when we found out that Clara had hydrops and cystic hygroma.
The doctors we consulted with over the course of her diagnosis kept telling us that these things just happen. That it was random. We were just "unlucky." The DNA strands just happened to spell themselves out in the wrong order, or got kinked, or duplicated where they shouldn't have. Unlucky.
So many poor prenatal diagnoses aren't caught until certain parts of the body have formed enough and/or have grown big enough to see on an ultrasound machine. This happens to many families around the 20-week mark, during what is called the anatomy scan (and no, sorry, this scan is not just to find out the sex).
...I wish I could have had more time with her
Sometimes I wish I could have had more time with my baby and gotten to the 20-week scan before we got the bad news. But we were lucky. Clara's diagnosis was discovered at the end of my 12th week of pregnancy.
This earlier diagnosis was a positive thing because, as far as I can tell according to what doctors have told us about abortion laws here in Mexico, abortion for any reason is only allowed up through 12 weeks of pregnancy in Mexico City.
Here's where things get tricky and confusing. Clara was diagnosed at the end of the 12th week, 12 weeks + 6 days. But we didn't interrupt the pregnancy until 14 weeks + 0 day. So how was this legal? Her 14 weeks + 0 day were actually 12 weeks + 0 day of actual pregnancy. 12 weeks in my body, because those other 2 weeks are part of the count including my last period before she was even conceived.
Either way you count it, we butted right up against the maximum time limit. So we were lucky.
But we were "lucky"
We were able to help Clara pass peacefully without our case needing to go through an ethics committee. I still feel my teeth clench and sense the heat rise up my back and radiate through my neck and shoulders when I think about how some random doctors on some hospital board would have decided our family's fate for us if not for our "lucky" timing.
How dare they? But we lucked out of that experience by a hair.
A privileged, "lucky" pregnancy loss
Although we were allowed to go to Mexico City for a no-questions-asked abortion, not every family can afford to travel that far. Not every family can even afford to get typical ultrasounds. We were in a economic situation that provided these opportunities for us.
We were able to choose a private abortion clinic, recommended by my private gynecologist, and had the means to pay for the whole service in cash up front. My parents helped us pay for the procedure.
This is what privilege looks like. It is the ability to travel far, choose your medical facility and to have the money to afford the best care.
Because of privilege and "luck", we got her diagnosis in time to save us all more suffering
Clara's hydrops most likely would have made it impossible for her lungs to fully form. Without the right prenatal care and in-depth ultrasounds, we may have never known about her fatal condition until it was too late. Her condition might have been caught later, leaving us the "option" of going before an ethics committee. Or maybe her condition wouldn't have been caught at all, and she would have been born without proper lungs, unable to draw breath. We could have been a poor family, living in a state far away from Mexico City, unable to travel for financial reasons.
But we weren't. We were lucky. We were privileged.
Lucky, unlucky, who's to say?
Hey, maybe all those white puffy dandelions I blew down my street in the salty sea air in California as a kid really did do me some good after all. Or maybe our stars aligned. Or my thoughts were positive enough to save us from suffering more. I say all that cynically, because I think it was just blind luck.
So lucky, unlucky, who's to say?
CC0 Creative Commons thanks to Pixabay
I'm Sabrina Fletcher, The TFMR Doula.
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