I am a 54-year-old housewife and mom. I love to read, play a little golf, and watch college football games with my husband.
I also had two late-term abortions due to major birth defects. Our oldest son is 27, and the pregnancy with him was completely normal. We thought having a second child would be easy enough and had planned on having at least three, if not four, children. Michael was born in 1985. In March of 1988 I had my first miscarriage. The second and third miscarriages were in 1990. All were in the first trimester, no cause was found.
In 1991 I was once again pregnant. When I made it through the first trimester we thought we could breathe. I went in for a routine ultrasound on June 4th, taking my five-year-old with me to see his soon to be sibling’s heartbeat. You can just tell when something is wrong by the way the technician looks. My wonderful doctor came in, looked at the screen, and told me there was a problem with the baby. I needed to see a perinatologist, and she had already called one.
An advanced ultrasound was performed, and we were told that our son had Spina Bifida , a three chambered heart, and other medical problems. I was 19 weeks pregnant. We discussed the options with my doctor and considered continuing the pregnancy, but the chances of a live birth were slim, and the chances of going into labor early were large. Any way we looked at it, we were not bringing home a live baby boy. We were devastated. I checked into the hospital on June 11, 1991 and was given pitocin to induce labor. I had been given a vaginal suppository to soften the cervix the night before. After six hours of labor I delivered our son. We were allowed to hold him and have pictures taken of him. We were all heartbroken. We saw a geneticist who told us that neural tube defects were rare and the odds of it happening again, while greater, were still small.
The following year I was pregnant again at the exact same time as the prior year. I went in for the routine ultrasound and felt like Alice in Wonderland when she fell down the rabbit hole. Except this time the doctor, the technician, and the entire office staff were crying. Once again we were off to the perinatologist where we were told that our daughter had anencephaly. Her brain had not formed. We gave serious thought to continuing the pregnancy. I needed something good to come out of this. We asked about organ donation and were told that it was not allowed with anencephalic babies. On June 23rd, 1992 I delivered our daughter at the same hospital, with the same doctor and nurses that I had the prior year.
No one should have to make the decision to end a pregnancy, but to have to make the choice twice was almost unbearable.
We were done with trying to have a baby. I didn’t think I could handle the emotions one more time. We have many friends who do not approve of abortion, but who fully supported our decisions in both cases because, as they told me, “this is different.” Our decision to terminate both pregnancies was not an easy one to make and I do not believe that many women reach the 20-week mark and decide to end a normal pregnancy.
Those that would take away our options need to walk in our shoes or by our side before they make the decision for us.
In 1993, it was found that taking folic acid reduced your risk of neural tube defects. I started taking a folic acid supplement. In September of 1994 our son was born. Same doctor and nurses and this time there were tears of joy.