I had my son when I was 20 years old. I was young and carefree and had no idea that I was blessed with a happy, healthy, stress-free pregnancy. My biggest worry was if I looked fat or pregnant during that “in between stage.” I look back at that time in my life and I want to slap the old me. I want to shake myself and say “Be thankful and appreciate the gift you’ve been given.” This pregnancy gave me my son, who will be starting high school this year, and I am thankful for him now more than ever.
So when I found out I was pregnant again many thoughts ran through my mind. Did I want to do this again? Did I want to be strapping one child into a car seat and then sending my other child off for his driving test? Who does that? Well those thoughts lasted about two minutes. I wanted this little one with every fiber of my being. My husband and I were going to be able to enjoy this experience as mature adults, not a young couple just starting out.
I went into my 18 week ultrasound embarrassingly much like I was that same 20-year-old girl. With nothing to expect but a healthy baby, I thought I would be confirming we were having a little girl (we sneaked a peak of the gender at another ultrasound). I learned very quickly the importance of this exam and why it is so crucial. Have you ever looked at someone and thought “Don’t say it. Don’t speak whatever you want to say ’cause I know it will change my life”? I just knew from one look at the technician’s face that this appointment had just gone south.
This story would be 300 pages if I told you all I went through. I had over two months of doctors appointments almost weekly. I held onto every shred of hope I was given that my baby would survive–that all the scans were wrong. They were not. I was seen by a new fetal health specialist and, within minutes, I had a breakdown of the problems. A severe heart defect (Tetralogy of Fallot), clubbed hands, problems with her feet, a missing bladder and stomach were just some things I was told. She also had fallen into the 3% in growth charts. I was told that the chances of all this occurring without an underlying related disorder were rare. I was given an amnio, and the next two weeks were the longest of my life. I obsessed over what diagnosis I would be given. I weighed the best and worse case scenario. The entire time I still pictured taking this little girl home–no matter what was wrong, she was mine.
Two weeks later I got the results. My daughter had numerous and severe chromosomal abnormalities in connection with her #7 and X chromosomes. I waited in the chair for them to give me examples of what her life would be like. The words “incompatible with life” are not something you ever think you’ll hear. I felt like I was underwater–I heard talking but I had no idea how to comprehend what was being said. In the end we were told we had two options, we could terminate the pregnancy or we could carry to term and provide comfort care if she survived the birth. There would be no chance of her getting better, and we were given maybe minutes with her at the most. I look back and really dislike the words “comfort care.” Comfort for who? The baby with no chance at survival? The one we would hook up to machines and tubes so we could selfishly have some time with her? My son who would have that image of his sister forever. Or my husband and I as I carried a sick and dying child for the rest of my pregnancy. What kind of sorrow and stress would that bring? Can people ever recover from that? In the end we chose to end my pregnancy.
The point of this blog is to enlighten people as to why women would seek abortion in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. The fact that we have to defend ourselves is ludicrous. In all honesty, I don’t know how to explain going through this without putting you in my shoes during those final days. Put my shoes on and walk into that office the first day of the procedure. Sit there at 27 weeks pregnant and say good-bye to your daughter as she kicks you ever so lightly. Come to the realization those kicks have been few and far between because she has been sick for a long time. Reason with yourself that this is your job as a mother to make the only decision that saves her from pain. The single most difficult decision I have ever made was consenting to the shot that would stop my baby girl’s heart. I didn’t take this decision lightly or because she was a burden. If anything I was a burden. Why couldn’t I give her a healthy body? What did I do wrong?
In the end, my heart and head came together and allowed me to feel at peace with my decision. I chose to have her and it was my responsibility to make sure she would be at peace. I chose the only option I felt right for me and my family, and it almost broke me. I carried her for four days after her heart stopped while they waited for me to be able to deliver. Those were the hardest four days of my life and I would not wish them on my worst enemy. I would, however, make the same choice over and over to save her from pain. I am SO thankful that choice is mine to make. Its scares me to death to think if the choice was not mine.
We had a butterfly memorial service when I got her ashes. I will forever tie her spirit to butterflies. I see them in the morning when the world is beautiful and I see them when I am in my darkest hours–that’s when I need them the most. I will probably always be partly broken, but that’s ok–it makes me the woman I am today. I am strong and whole and a better person, and I fly with her in my dreams.