Allow induction rather than abortion when mother is in danger

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I am calling for change to make it easier for a mother like me to be able to elect to be induced rather than be left to have an abortion by dilation and curettage or dilation and evacuation. 

At 16 weeks and 5 days pregnant at a standard appointment, my baby’s heart rate was 120 beats per minute. Knowing that was the low normal, I asked my doctor to recheck it, and it was then 108 beats per minute. I was extremely concerned something was wrong because my baby’s heart rate had previously been above the 140’s, so I was referred to a Maternal Fetal Medicine (high risk OB) doctor. It was determined there that my baby was diagnosed with several anomalies and hydrops fetalis, a very serious and fatal condition that is a symptom of fluid in two or more organs of the body. There are two types of hydrops—immune and non-immune. Immune hydrops is caused by something such as a negative Rh factor of the blood and non-immune hydrops is caused by something such as a genetic or a chromosomal issue. I was told my baby would likely not live one to two more weeks and would likely pass in the womb unless I elected for an abortion. I was also notified that my body could mimic what was going on with my baby’s body, and that I could start holding on to fluid in my body, known as Mirror Syndrome. Mirror Syndrome is very similar to pre-eclampsia and is life threatening and requires immediate intervention. I declined an abortion and continued on with my pregnancy in hopes that I could give my baby a dignified death at worst, or save her life at best. I was monitored with weekly doctor’s appointments and ultrasounds and was instructed to check my blood pressure daily, notify my doctor of any vision changes, headaches unrelieved by rest and Tylenol, and edema in my lower extremities. 

My baby made it to 30 weeks and 2 days. I started developing polyhydraminos, which is an excessive amount of amniotic fluid. Typically, as the baby is developing to full term, the amniotic fluid decreases to prepare for delivery. My baby was very sick and was not practicing breathing in the womb like she should have been, which results in the excessive amniotic fluid. I was so uncomfortable, had trouble breathing, couldn’t do much activity, and was in an extreme amount of pain and discomfort. I was at my weekly appointment and my baby was having decelerations, and I was also having contractions on the ultrasound. I was sent to the hospital for more monitoring and to determine a plan. My doctor came in and told me in an effort to save my baby’s life, I would need to do an emergency surgery. I elected to do so in hopes that we could save my daughter. 

Unfortunately, my doctor was struggling to get my baby out of my uterus due to extreme swelling. Instead of the usual horizontal or vertical cut, I had to have both—a “t cut incision.” My baby wasn’t breathing and her heart stopped as soon as she was born. Her life began and ended on September 17th at 1:29 PM. I lost 2.7 liters of blood during my c section, and while in the recovery room spending time with my precious baby girl, Aubree Ryan, I became very nauseous from the anesthesia. I vomited, which resulted in hemorrhaging. I completely saturated my hospital bed in blood and clots and was sent to the surgical intensive care unit, or SICU, for suspected DIC, or Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation. DIC is a blood clotting disorder that results in small blood clots throughout your entire body and it can also cause uncontrollable bleeding. My life was in extreme danger. I monitored in the SICU and began having extreme shortness of breath and heaviness in my chest as well as feeling like a knife was in my shoulder. When my doctor came to check on me at 3:50 AM and I told them about my issues. I described the feeling as though something was pushing on my diaphragm making it hard to breathe. Immediately, my doctor knew I was bleeding internally. She confirmed it on an ultrasound and within 20 minutes, I had a central line placed in my neck, a consent signed, and was wheeled back to the OR. It took 39 total blood transfusions to save my life, and I nearly lost my uterus as a hysterectomy is the method of choice to save a woman in that condition. He kept the option of doing a hysterectomy in his back pocket because saving my life was obviously top priority. He knew how devastated I would have been to wake up and to find out I wouldn’t be able to have anymore babies after losing the child that I wanted more than anything in this world and would soon have to bury, so he wanted to do everything he could to help me. Not only did I survive, but my uterus did, too! It is likely that Aubree’s extreme swelling and her lack of movement put major pressure and distress on my uterus causing me to hemorrhage and nearly die myself.

Now we are back at square one trying to plan to restart our family. After multiple tests, the cause for Aubree’s hydrops has not been found. While we are hopeful for the future of having a healthy baby, the scary unknown still lingers that we might have to deal with the fear of hydrops again. While planning for the future, we have discussed point A of getting pregnant to point B of delivering a baby, with a plan for everything in between. The topic of if this happened again if I would terminate came up.

Obviously, I have strong views of the value of life and nearly died rather than abort my precious baby. At 24 weeks, I went to Becoming Mom Spa and had a 3D/4D ultrasound and Aubree was pressed against my placenta so we were unable to get a clear picture of her. I shook my belly and talked to her, and a smile went right across her face on the screen. I am unconvinced that a baby does not feel while in the womb. Sadly, although 9.041 of the Ohio Revised Code states, “It is the public policy of the state of Ohio to prefer childbirth over abortion to the extent that is constitutionally permissible,” it would be easier for me to have an abortion and terminate the pregnancy of a fatal baby than it would be to elect for an early induction to save my life and to allow my child to pass with respect and dignity in the loving form of childbirth. The number of hospitals that would allow this are limited, and a case like mine would also have to be brought to the Board of Ethics to determine if it would be allowed.

I am calling for action to instill the respect of life and the right to die with dignity to be brought into the state of Ohio when a mother’s life is truly deemed at risk with a baby that is truly deemed as terminal. While an early induction would have the same result of death as an abortion by a dilation and curettage or a dilation and evacuation, a loving mother whose life is truly in danger should be able to deliver her terminal baby through the natural act of childbirth to preserve the integrity of the mother as well as preserve the respect for life and the right to die with dignity.