May 21 is the anniversary due date for my second child, who I aborted. Late term.
Three days before Christmas 2016, at an 18½ week ultrasound, we discovered that a genetic screening test had revealed a problem in our growing baby. He had developed a cyst on his brain and both his cardiac ventricles were visibly pumping into his aorta. We agreed to an amniocentesis. It came back two days after the holiday confirming that our baby indeed had an extra 13th chromosome.
The board at our hospital needed to review our case, and we were approved to move forward with our decision. The new year came and went, and on January 4, we arrived at the hospital prepared to say goodbye to our second love. Our parents took our first born without hesitation.
I could feel the wiggles of my baby inside my womb that morning at the hospital. Our labor and delivery nurse warmly embraced us with tears in her eyes, and a pink sign was placed on our door facing the hallway. It was “code” so all the staff knew what was happening in our room. I cried as I received my first suppository. The next 18 hours of labor were a blur. My contractions got worse, and I agreed to a little pain medication. Shortly after that, he was born.
He had passed away sometime during labor. He was tiny and beautiful and delicate. We spent about 90 minutes with him, and then he was taken from us forever.
It was the hardest decision we ever had to make. It was a decision that has affected me and my marriage. It was a decision that has forever changed the way I look at conception, pregnancy and birth. It will affect the way I parent for the rest of my children’s lives.
Every year I have to share our story to honor him and to acknowledge what we went through.
We had support through all of this. Support from our family and my friends. Support from my co-workers and our neighbors. I met other moms in my support group who supported me, even if they had the same experience but chose a different path with a different outcome.
A lot of people said to me, “Well in your case, this was a no brainer. I would have done the same.” But now I wonder what made our case any different than any other woman’s in our country. I was not physically at risk through the pregnancy. I was not raped. The baby was probably going to make it full term and be born alive.
My personal scenario was a private decision for us to make. We did not want to see our baby grow to term, put him through the stress of a full-term birth, let him feel the glory of oxygen in his lungs, see the beauty of light and feel the warm embrace of his mom’s flesh, only to suffocate hours later, suffer and die. But, how is our scenario any different than a heroin addict who finds out she is pregnant. Or a woman who was just diagnosed with breast cancer and who needs chemo. How is our scenario any different than a 17-year-old girl with an abusive father who will harm her if he finds out she is pregnant. How is this any different from a woman about to go to college realizing that that one time the condom broke…
When black and white laws are made, then all the grey is taken away. All the grey.
We were definitely grey.
Through our experience, there was not a single person who yelled at us on the way into the hospital. We were greeted tenderly on arrival to the labor & delivery unit. The nurse gave me top-notch medical care. The grief counselor honored our baby and gave us a few options of handmade tiny-sized outfits to dress him in when he was born. The pastor warmly held our hands while he blessed our baby’s sweet little soul. No one spat on us as I was wheeled out of the hospital with empty arms, bleeding, with engorged breasts that would never feed a baby. The funeral director was kind when I picked up our baby’s ashes. In the months to come, our family and friends were warm and understanding, crying along with us. I struggled when my best friend had her healthy baby weeks before mine was due; she allowed me time. When I finally met her perfect baby girl, she told me she named her after ME.
No one shunned us. No one abandoned us. I received communion without judgment.
I still ache at times over this experience. As I hold my third born and stroke his hair, I think about how life could be different. If Baby 2 was “normal.” If I went to term with him…
I know we made the right choice. I’m thankful that we were able to do that and grateful that our decision was respected.
Most nights before I drift off to sleep, I look to my closet and whisper an “I’m sorry” directed at the little white box that sits nestled between my sweaters. It’s not because I ended his life. It’s an “I’m sorry” that nature sucks, and that he didn’t grow right, and that he didn’t get to experience the sun and chocolate and bubbles.
As everyone banters back and forth, black and white about the laws, just take a brief moment to think about all the grey. Just understand that when you take away everything, then you are hurting so much more than your original intent.
Featured image by Julie Frontera
DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.