My Story: Trying to Get Pregnant While Dealing With Depression and Anxiety

Elise talks about her process of getting pregnant as she worked at Planned Parenthood during a time that violence was prevalent towards the organization.

Transcript:

OBOS Today: Great, okay, so I know you mentioned a few different topics you wanted to talk about today. Maybe you could start with the process you went through — um you talked about trying to get pregnant. So, when did you first start this process? 

Elise: Yeah, so I will just sort of tell – tell the story as it happened with some additional context. So back when I first started trying to get pregnant, I was working at Planned Parenthood Great Plains. 

Which is the Planned Parenthood affiliate that covers Kansas, and part of Missouri and Oklahoma and Arkansas. And one of the first things that I did to sort of start that process was getting off of some psychotropic meds and it helped me to manage some anxiety and depression and right around when I did that, attacks started on Planned Parenthood.  

This was around the time that Planned Parenthood was accused of sort of selling baby body parts, but, you know, an accusation that has been proven false you know, time and again in a number of investigations.  

And that caused a real spike of violence against our affiliate, our building, you know, threats against me, specifically, and so that was very difficult to manage and that feels important to—to name right because mental health is a piece of it and also sort of the gender depression at the heart of attacks on Planned Parenthood was a piece of my story, too.  

But regardless, I went to Lawrence Memorial Hospital and sort of initiated some sort of preconception counseling there because that’s the place where I assumed that I would probably get birth.  

And I was administered a blood glucose level test, because I was fat — am still fat — and I, I was told that the results of that test indicated that I had diabetes, and I was, of course, devastated to hear that news because I know that that requires a lot of time and work to manage and I was told to see a sort of physician for follow up outside of the hospital.  

So, I did, and when they looked at the results of my, my tests, they told me that I did not have diabetes and that I, in fact maybe had pre-gestational diabetes, which is a much lower threshold, but then I didn’t actually have you know, diabetes and that I didn’t necessarily need to make any immediate changes in terms of like diet or medicine. 

And went back to the hospital with that information and experienced a lot of pushback against what I had heard from the external experts. And in the meantime, I should mention that I was paying hospital prices for this particular kind of blood work, and so you — it ended up being over $2,000 if I had to pay back over the course of multiple years. 

And eventually, the physician that I was working with at the hospital said look like you know we’ll—we’ll take your IUD out when you lose some more weight. 

And so, I left feeling not only sort of psychologically shattered because of the trauma of ongoing sort of threats and harassment at Planned Parenthood, but also feeling so bad about myself, because I felt like I was too fat to have a kid and was, you know, confused and upset about what had happened with regard to the diabetes diagnosis. 

I’m still not diabetic. I am now trying for kids officially. It’s been a couple of years now and I’ve encountered some issues like closed fallopian tubes and am probably going to have to have surgery to address that issue and I’m now a graduate student at the University of Kansas, which is something I really loved doing. 

And I have student health insurance that’s not built for people who are trying to have kids. Fertility care is not covered under student health insurance at the University of Kansas. 

And there’s actually even a state law in Kansas that prevents grad students from being on the same insurance as other staff at KU so— 

Sorry about my dog.  

OBOS Today: You’re okay.  

Elise: And so, I am having to buy a supplemental insurance policy on the exchange that’s about $450 a month in order to be able to afford to see a specialist who can recommend surgery for me to open up a fallopian tube and, hopefully, allow me to get pregnant. 

So, I also know that I have so much privilege inside of all of this, as somebody who’s white, as somebody who is at least been insured the whole time that they’ve been trying to get pregnant. 

And I know that, like Black and Brown women experience a lot more negative assumptions about their ability to parent and they’re sort of like ability to take care of themselves, right, that I didn’t face because of my whiteness, and so I want to name that even as I’ve experienced a lot of hard stuff, I’ve also—that stuff has been mitigated by my whiteness. 

And nobody should have to experience that hard stuff when they’re trying to get pregnant.