My Treatment During An Emergency Labor Made Me Even More Pro-Choice

Becoming a mother made me fight even harder for women’s rights.
labor trauma women's rights

From as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mom. To be honest, I had a tough time imagining my life playing out if I didn’t become a mom. What I didn’t want, however, was to do it alone—I wanted to be married or at least in a committed relationship before having a child. 

Yet, by age 30 I was still single, watching my friends walk down the aisle and start their families.

I started to fear that my dreams of becoming a parent could potentially not come true after all, so I made a deal with myself. If I wasn’t married or in a committed relationship by 35 I would look into different ways to become a mom—fostering, adoption, using a sperm bank, whatever it would take to reach my goal of motherhood. 

I was raised understanding there wasn’t one way to become a family—and that the path to parenthood looks different for everyone.

For three years when I was in elementary school, my parents took in nearly 20 foster kids and raised them alongside me. This planted the seed of me becoming pro-choice, since I saw first-hand what happens when children are not wanted or are born into homes that cannot or will not provide for them.

And as fate would have it, two months shy of turning 35, in September 2019, I got engaged to my now-husband.

We got married eight months later, right when COVID turned the entire world upside down. Our wedding was canceled when the state shut down on March 16, so we opted instead for a backyard “I do” with just our immediate family. 

Another important event that was canceled: my appointment to get my IUD removed. I had scheduled it well in advance for two weeks after our wedding, but, as a result of the pandemic, all non-emergency appointments at my OB were canceled—including my IUD removal.

My fertility felt like it was being held hostage. 

After a month of waiting, I had what can be described as a “polite meltdown” on the sweet receptionist of my OB/GYN’s office. I told her that if they didn’t take this IUD out soon, I was going to be Googling ways to do it at home. That managed to get me in less than a week later in April. We started our journey to have a baby that May.

We found out I was pregnant in late August and when I saw the second pink line show up on the test, I was in disbelief.

I had even poured myself a glass of wine to console myself after it inevitably turned up negative, but was so thankful to pour that sucker down the drain. I had wanted this for so long—and it was finally happening, but I didn’t take a full deep breath again until my baby was confirmed to be safely tucked in my uterus a month later at my first OB appointment.

I proceeded to have a textbook pregnancy. Other than being “advanced maternal age” I had no complications. My blood pressure was perfect, I passed the gestational diabetes test and everything was going along just fine.

The only real downer was that I didn’t like being pregnant—in fact, I hated a lot of it—but I knew it wouldn’t last forever.

Other than being super uncomfortable, I counted down until my May due date, feeling like everything was, well, fine. 

Until the night it wasn’t.

While lying in bed on Monday, March 15, 2021, reading a book next to my husband, my water broke. I sprang out of bed after I felt a gush of fluid on my leg. I didn’t know if it was pee, blood or my water breaking. It was just like in a movie when another gush landed on the wood floor at my feet. 

My husband had just taken a Unisom to help himself sleep, but the words “Babe I think my water broke” got him awake faster than anything I’ve ever seen.

I was only 33 weeks pregnant, so this was not good.

After debating calling an ambulance, we hopped in the car and drove to the closest hospital. I wasn’t entirely convinced it was my water, and taking an ambulance because I peed my pants seemed a little excessive.

However, the super nice folks at the empty OB triage at our local hospital confirmed it was my water that broke and I was dilated to one centimeter. . They gave me magnesium and then I was strapped onto a gurney and put into an ambulance anyway to be transported to the local University Women’s and Children’s Hospital, thirty minutes away. My husband followed behind in our car and we started calling family.

I was terrified. I wanted this little girl so badly. I’d waited 36 years for her. She had to be safe, I had to keep her safe.

All I could do was look at the ceiling of the ambulance with IVs and wires coming out of me and pretend to be listening to the sweet paramedic riding with me as he talked about how his new baby was due at the same time as mine. It was surreal.

And this is where it starts to go downhill rapidly.

When I was at the local hospital, I was given a muscle relaxer to help me calm my body. The attending physician at the university hospital immediately took me off the muscle relaxer.

No discussion, no other options, just no.

I remember my nurse arguing with him saying it was only contraindicated in the first trimester and I was clearly in my third. He didn’t care, take me off it. She vented her frustrations to me, and her apologies. 

When the doctor came in to examine me, he didn’t say much and I got the feeling I was not important to him. He felt my stomach, read my lab work and said we needed to keep me pregnant as long as possible.

And that was it.

I was put on constant fetal monitoring and told I couldn’t get out of bed unless I needed to use the bathroom. I was a prisoner in my room.

Leading up to this I was flexible enough to know that nothing goes to plan and I needed my only birth plan to be “deliver my baby safely” and be okay if things didn’t go the way I wanted.

At that moment, all of my choices were stripped away from me.

I kept asking “What is the plan?” And all they would tell me was “to keep you pregnant as long as possible, up to and including your due date.”

That meant seven weeks strapped to a hospital bed? Hell no.

I don’t believe the government has any business involving themselves in medical decisions between you and your doctor. Lying in that bed, I couldn’t stop thinking about women who didn’t want to be pregnant, or were pregnant with babies they knew were not going to survive outside the womb.

I wanted this baby. I got pregnant on purpose. And yet, I was miserable.

I hated being pregnant, but it was a means to an end that I very much wanted. What if I hadn’t wanted this baby? What if this baby had been a product of rape? What if I was being forced to go through this for a child I did not want or could not support or that I knew was not going to live?

And it pissed me off.

I was being treated only as the vessel that was carrying my baby. Only the sweet nurses were treating me as Andrea. Mom-to-be. Person. A human being that was becoming more and more anxious about this whole scenario.

After 48 hours of trying to stop my labor, they had to take me off the medication they were using for that purpose. They moved me up to the recovery floor and out of my labor room. I was only in that room for a few hours. I kept telling the nurse this wasn’t working, I was in tremendous pain and this labor wasn’t stopping.

Oh, did I mention all they would let me have for pain was Tylenol the whole time?

Finally, in the middle of the night, they took me seriously and I was moved back down to labor and delivery. My husband, normally very quiet and chill and goes with the flow, advocated for me and I was finally given an epidural at 3:30 a.m. in the morning on Thursday.

Almost 60 hours into labor I could finally have pain-free sleep. And I did sleep for more than 24 hours.

Friday afternoon, March 19, my daughter was born after 25 minutes of pushing. She was perfect and everything I ever wanted and waited for. She spent 22 days in the NICU learning how to breathe and eat on her own. Today, she is three years old. 

When she was 16 months old, the Supreme Court ruled that if she became pregnant, she would have no say over her own body.

I will never forget how I felt like just a vessel for a baby. An incubator. A shell.

In the state of Missouri that’s all I am—the womb that carries the baby. Not a person having to navigate all the pain and changes and mental health hurdles that come with traumatic labor and delivery.

I will never stop fighting for a woman’s right to choose, even more so now that I am a mother.


  • Andrea Morrow-Cronin

    Andrea Morrow-Cronin is a wife to Matt and mom to Caroline who has spent the last 16 years writing for herself and her employers, both online and in print. With a career background in government relations, environmental services, lobbying and heavy construction equipment rental—she knows a little about a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. She loves functional fitness, a glass (or two) of wine, baking experiments and brightly colored athletic shoes.

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