I Almost Died Because a Hospital Considered My Miscarriage an 'Abortion'

Kate Kampen/Facebook

family and fetus
Kate Kampen/Facebook

TRIGGER WARNING: This post contains information about a miscarriage, which may be triggering to some.

I knew we should have waited until the second trimester to announce it but we were just too excited. “Baby number 2, coming April 2014,” the Facebook post read with a picture of our first son’s beaming face peeking above a “big brother” sign. We already had names picked out and were over the moon about having a second child. It was that very night, though, just shy of the twelfth week of my pregnancy, that I started spotting and the excitement crashed.

  • I was told at the doctor’s office, the next day, that they would have to monitor my hormone levels to make sure they were rising, not falling. 

    They said I wouldn’t have answers for up to a week, not until after several blood draws. Unfortunately, my bleeding increased and I ended up in the ER before the results were even back.

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  • A transvaginal ultrasound confirmed my worst fear.

    There was no heartbeat and the words “Your uterus is full of debris” shook me to my core. I bawled harder than I ever had in my life and I was sure everyone down the hall could hear my emotional pain. I was broken. I asked how soon I could have the procedure and start trying again. I wanted a baby, *that baby,* so badly. But I couldn’t have that baby and my thoughts were chaotic through my hysteria.

    That’s when I was punched in the gut for a second time. That’s when I was told that the hospital system, which monopolizes our area, is a privately owned, Catholic hospital. They don’t believe in abortions ...”not unless the mother’s life is in danger," the doctor said. 

    Abortion?! My baby was wanted ... and dead! Why in God’s name would I be denied to have a dead fetus removed from my body?! It wasn’t an “abortion," it was a procedure! But, no, they said, firmly. Removing any fetal tissue fell under the term abortion and I was sent home under the assumption that my body would “take care of it, as nature and God intended."

  • I left the hospital, shaken, and spent the rest of the night sobbing in my husband’s arms.

     I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that not only was my baby gone, but I still had to carry it. I had to go through an emotionally and physically painful process because of someone else’s religious beliefs -- ones I didn’t even hold! I was angry but I was too broken to fight.

    For the next eleven days, I bled heavily. I lost pieces of my baby in the toilet, I slept, I cried, and I cursed the hospital and doctors who forced me to suffer through it. I visited the hospital three more times, each time begging for a D&C and each time being refused based on moral and religious grounds. 

    I was fine, they said. The baby was passing.

  • On the eleventh day, though, I couldn’t leave the bathroom. 

    I lost more blood than I thought my body could hold. I cried from the pain as my husband rubbed my back and comforted me through my suffering. Finally, it was too much. There was too much blood, too much pain, too much shaking, and he brought me back to the hospital, a shattered mess.

    I was examined in the emergency room, once again, and told that I had suffered an incomplete miscarriage and that I was at risk of shock and sepsis. That my body had, in fact, NOT “taken care of it” and it was now an emergency situation. The operating room was prepped and I was taken back for surgery, my husband and mother in tow.

    As I laid on the gurney, relieved that my ordeal would finally be over and I could begin to heal, the anesthesia began to flow and the nurse stepped to my bedside. 

     She asked me to sign papers, through my haze, as my family members watched. “Would you like to know where the grave is?” she suddenly asked. I looked at her sideways and asked her to clarify. “It’s our hospital’s belief that all products of conception are buried. There’s a baby area at a local cemetery ... you have the choice to know where, or not...” she replied. I weakly (and bitterly) explained that there was no body to bury, just bits of tissue. It was medical waste, I said. I didn’t want it to be buried. I wanted it donated, if anything at all. Hell, even *I* don’t want to be buried when I die!

    No, I told her, I refused a burial. When she casually marked off that I chose not to know, while mumbling that I didn’t have a say in the matter, I thought my mother was going to jump out of her chair. I had been denied a procedure until I was at risk of death, due to their beliefs, and now they had the audacity to tell me what I had to do with what would be removed from MY body?! It’s a good thing the anesthesia kicked in when it did ... and that my husband was there to hold my mother back from ripping the nurse’s face off as I was wheeled into the OR.

  • After the procedure, I could finally begin to move forward.

    We ended up losing another pregnancy (thankfully my body “took care” of that one without any further trauma) before we had our beautiful rainbow baby and completed our family in 2015. I still haven’t forgiven the hospital and staff for what they put me (and no doubt other women) through. It’s plain wrong and I will always hold resentment towards them. It’s a sharp pain that fades with time but never completely disappears.

  • Abortion is a broad term. 

    Be careful when you proclaim your beliefs in the name of the unborn as it may just be crushing a suffering mother’s rights, maybe even someone you know. You can’t dictate when YOU think abortion is ok, in only this circumstance or that one. The decision is 100% between the woman and her doctor and, simply put, is no one else’s business. Keep it LEGAL, keep it SAFE and keep it a RIGHT for women to have power over their own medical and reproductive decisions. My story is only one of millions but every single woman has their reason, a reason no one else has the right to invalidate. Ever.

    This post was originally written and shared by Kate Kampen and was republished with permission.