It was the beginning of June and my wife was now over four hours away, admitted to the Women’s Hospital down at the coastal city. We were still not sure of all that was going on with the pregnancy as they were still testing, but, the pregnancy was still going on. The doctor had assembled a team of specialists and were monitoring both our baby’s progress and my wife’s progress, unsure how the placenta previa would impact the complications with the pregnancy that were already present.
Back at home we had four young children to attend to and I had a business to run. I began to attempt to organize things in our lives so that I could care for our children and care for my wife the best I could. However, that wasn’t going so well. At work, I had now exhausted my vacation time and the company was not granting me a leave of absence. Perhaps it was because they had done so only a couple years earlier when I left to set up the community non-profit organization. Whatever their reason was, I was faced with a no. My only option was to apply for a medical leave, but in order to do that, I needed a doctor to provide me with a medical leave ‘permission slip’.
This is when my decent began.
I went to my local doctor – the very same doctor whom we had started this pregnancy journey with a couple of months earlier. I made an appointment to see him and explained all that had happened, ending with my request for the medical leave so I could remain at home and care for our four other children.
He refused because he was of the strong opinion that we had made the wrong decision. He refused because he felt I should have forced my wife to have an abortion. He refused because he thought we were completely crazy and foolish to put my wife’s life at risk like this. He refused because if my wife was to get an abortion, and I quote him, “She would be able to recover in a couple of weeks and get back home to take care of the children, allowing me to go back to work.”
Little did I know how prevalent that opinion was.
After some work on my wife’s end I was able to secure a medical leave note from a doctor and social worker located at the Women’s Hospital. I presented the note to my head office and made arrangements to provide coverage for the business. The company responded by sending a manager from another city to watch over things. Finally, it looked like I was getting some support with this journey.
I was mistaken.
The company’s benefit company sent me a notice of refusal, cutting me off of any benefits during my medical leave. This was because the company had sent the benefits provider a letter explaining how strongly they were opposed to my decision and, among other things, how unnecessary this was because if my wife would get an abortion, I could be back to work within a short while.
I did stay on leave, because of that note, and legally the company had to oblige my leave because of that note. However, my leave meant that I no longer had benefits nor did I have any income. It would take several weeks before I received any income through employment insurance because of the company’s apparent refusal to generate a record of employment, a very necessary document in which to apply for employment insurance.
Daily, I would receive emails and other forms of support from people close to us, offering help through this journey. This was for the first few weeks but this too changed once my wife was admitted to the Women’s Hospital. Now, instead of daily forms of support I was being contacted by these same people who felt it was their ‘duty’ or ‘responsibility’ as our ‘friend’ or ‘brother in the Lord’ to inform me on our foolishness. I was being constantly admonished in ‘allowing’ my wife to continue with this pregnancy. How dare I “put my wife’s health at risk by allowing her to continue with this pregnancy.” I should have forced her to have an abortion. Then, she could be back home to recover, and we could put this whole unfortunate incident behind us.
This was becoming really fucked up.
“If you are insisting on continuing down this path with this pregnancy, then you need to know that I believe you are acting outside of the will of God. That you are being selfish and foolish, playing God with the health and life of your wife, and I cannot support you in this decision. I will be praying for you.”
One by one they lined up to share similar thoughts with me. One by one they walked away, completely disgusted that we – that I – would be allowing such a thing to happen. Those that stayed, stayed out of obligation. They stayed because they were drawn to the social welfare of the situation. This poor couple who have no real idea on how to care for themselves, desperately needs our help.
It didn’t improve the situation to know that I did, in fact, desperately need their help.