I spent years trying to get pregnant, and it finally happened in 2004 after doing an IVF cycle. I was thrilled to be pregnant with healthy twin boys Nicholas and Zachary — and while the entire pregnancy was difficult as I battled horrendous morning sickness and severe swelling, I couldn’t have been happier.
But at the end of October, when I was just under six months pregnant, the hammer came down. In a rapid series of events over a twenty-four period my worst fears came true. I learned one twin had passed away and that I was seriously ill with preeclampsia and needed to be hospitalized to try to stop the progression of the disease. While in the hospital I got sicker and sicker, to the point that my kidneys and liver shut down and my blood pressure soared out of control, and the morning after I was admitted I found a group of doctors standing around my bed informing me that if I wanted to live, I needed to terminate my pregnancy.
It was the worst day of my life.
I’ve written about that day a hundred times on my blog and in other media outlets. It’s hard for me to discuss it so frequently, but I do so because in the decade since I lost my sons more and more restrictive laws have been passed that would have seriously impacted my doctors’ legal ability to save my life. The Partial Birth Abortion Ban, “Fetal Pain” Laws, and now of course the incredibly restrictive SB5 law in Texas that makes all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy illegal.
I knew that folks wanted me to write about the Texas law (judging by my email and Facebook messages) but I’ve been hesitating because sometimes it just hurts too much. A friend of mine is struggling with a pregnancy loss right now and this brings my own loss, so long ago, right to the surface again.
But last night someone on Twitter encouraged me to tune in to the live stream of Texas Senator Wendy Davis holding a blistering filibuster as she fought to prevent SB5 from being passed. I was instantly riveted; not just by her courage and endurance and willingness to risk so much by taking this stand in Texas, but by the incredible attempts of the Senate Republicans to stop her. I’ve never before seen the word “germane” on Twitter, but last night I saw literally thousands of tweets using the word and other parliamentary rules of order terms.
For over four hours I tuned in to the livestream (with a short break during the discussion of fetal pain; even though I’m aware that the science says it’s unlikely that my sons suffered, it’s simply unbearable to consider), cheering her on from Philadelphia. As the deadline neared legislation cannot be voted on in Texas after midnight it became a nail biting situation as various Democratic Senators used every trick in the playbook to keep the vote from happening.
At times cheers (and jeers) erupted from the packed galleries (called an “unruly mob” by the Texas GOP) that were so loud and heartfelt that I feel like I could hear them in Philadelphia. I felt so cheered and buoyed by those voices; I cannot tell you how many times I’ve felt alone in the fight to save late term abortion for women like me. I cannot tell you the number of times well meaning friends that find abortion in the third trimester unacceptable have asked me to explain, in detail, why I couldn’t just have a c-section or induction questions that don’t happen with other life saving medical procedures. I’m happy to talk about it and educate people about the procedure but damn it, it drains me each and every time.
But last night I watched as this woman, the beautiful and amazing brave woman in pink sneakers that doesn’t know me or my story, stood up for ME. She fought like a warrior for women like me to be able to choose to work with our doctors to make horrible and wrenching decisions after the 20th week of pregnancy. While Twitter was swamped with hundreds of thousands of proclamation that we #StandWithWendy, I felt like she was standing with me.
Thank you, Senator Davis, for fighting for women like me. This morning dawned a lot brighter thanks to you.