We had only been trying to conceive for two months when those two pink lines showed up.
We considered ourselves the lucky ones— My, look how fertile we are!
The first appointment was at 8 weeks and once we saw that tiny heart beating on the screen, we couldn’t hold in our secret any longer. They say it’s bad luck to announce before 12 weeks, but I was never one to place my life in the hands of luck anyway— I knew God was bigger than that.
So we took adorable “bun in the oven” pictures, and posted them to Facebook, and everyone cheered and shared in our joy.
Our NT scan came at 13 weeks and I was shaking in the waiting room thanks to everything I had read on Google and those God-forsaken Baby Center forums where people post about their babies having heart problems or Down syndrome or a horse’s head and a lion’s tail.
My husband and I walked into the exam room where a nurse put cold gel on my little belly and began to take screen shots.
I couldn’t help but notice how silent the room had fallen, but I was trying not to look too much into it.
She walked out without saying a word, and I knew—I knew something was wrong.
My fears were confirmed when a doctor returned in her place.
She slowly tiptoed into the room— like a priest late for a funeral, and with compassion in her eyes, she laid any hope we had of our baby being okay, to rest.
“Your baby has severe cystic hygroma. It has moved from the neck down onto the body. This child has a 0% chance of living.”
A zero percent chance? Can doctors even say that?
She was sure. My baby was going to die inside of me, and if I chose to continue the pregnancy I would either: A. Die with them or B: Never be able to have children again.
I don’t know who’s sorrow was greater in that moment— My husbands, knowing that I would gladly give my life for our child, or mine, knowing that giving my life still wouldn’t bring our baby into this world.
Everything I had ever believed up until that point had been put into question. They call it a medical termination, but I had only ever known it as one word:
Never in my life did I think I would ever have to worry about something like abortion, because to me, abortion wasn’t an option.
That is, until it was.
We prayed vigorously.
We cried out to God, begging Him to help us understand why we would ever be expected to make a decision like this— pleading with Him to tell us what to do.
I thought about Abraham and how God had asked him to sacrifice his own son and to trust Him.
I didn’t understand, and I knew He wouldn’t be running in before it was done to save my baby and thank me for my faith— but I knew that this was something I was supposed to do.
I know that sounds absurd.
Why would a loving God ask me to take a life He created from this world?
I can’t explain it, and maybe I was wrong— but I felt like that was the right decision at the time.
So, with the heaviest heart, I walked into Planned Parenthood on May 16, 2011.
My doctor stressed the urgency of a termination as soon as possible for my safety, and our hospital was not able to accommodate, so they sent me to PP.
I was so thankful that there were no protestors outside on that day, condemning me even more than I had already damned myself.
We checked in at the front desk and they advised us that I would be there for about 3-4 hours and that my husband was not allowed to accompany me past that point.
Anxiety set in and I couldn’t breathe.
How was I supposed to get through this without him by my side?
They called me in for a private interview where I was asked a series of questions.
“Is somebody forcing you to terminate this pregnancy? Do you understand what you are about to do? Are you sure you want to do this?”
I broke down.
“This is the last thing I want to do. I love this baby. I want this baby. But it cannot survive.”
My response made the woman stop what she was doing and read my file.
Upon realizing my circumstances, she went and talked with her boss and they agreed that they wanted to help me in any small way that they could.
“We aren’t supposed to do this, but your case is special. You have to take a pill to soften your cervix and it takes about 2 hours to set in. Normally, you would sit in a room with all of the other girls here, but we have a conference room and you and your husband can go in there so that you don’t have to be alone. We are so sorry that you are going through this.”
I was so grateful, and I couldn’t believe the kindness I was receiving from a place I had demonized my entire life.
After a few minutes they came to get me for an ultrasound. The tech talked to me as she looked at my baby.
She had been briefed on my situation and explained to me that before she started working at PP she worked at a clinic that was specifically for medical terminations for 18 years.
She took one look at my baby, and gently grabbed my hand.
“I want you to know, you’re doing the right thing here. There is no way this baby could have survived.”
I cried some more, and thanked God for the comfort this woman had given me in that terrifying moment.
My husband and I tried to keep our minds off of things while we waited for my cervix to soften.
We laughed a little, cried a lot, and sat in silence just holding one another. When it was time, I was taken back to the operating room alone.
The doctor came in and she too, held my hand and told me she was sorry.
Tears trickled down my face and I heard her say this would be over soon before I went under.
I woke up in a different room, with dental-style chairs everywhere.
The seats were filled with other women clad in hospital gowns and somber expressions.
The entire room felt like it was frozen in time, and I wondered if I was dreaming—until a woman came over near me and said, “Oh good, you’re awake.”
I looked down and saw that they had put a pad and underwear on me.
Suddenly, I was overwhelmingly aware that my baby was gone.
I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t feel.
I was catatonic in that moment, and I remember wishing they had killed me too.
Going to sleep was the easy part— it was waking up, it was having to be awake for the rest of my life, that left me feeling dead inside.
This is such a heavy topic, and with good reason.
But life is not black and white and neither is abortion.
We prayed for our pregnancy. It was planned and our baby was wanted— loved.
Everybody says that cases like mine are “just” the 3%, but I matter.
My right to choose my life, mattered.
My right to end my child’s suffering, mattered.
I believe that my baby was a person from the moment of conception. I saw that heartbeat— I heard it.
I also believe in science.
I believe my doctor was telling the truth when she said my baby would suffer and then die, never meant to share this world with us.
Am I a murderer because I chose to end her pain, even if it meant causing myself to live a lifetime of it?
But that is my cross to bear.
My hope isn’t to make a case for the pro-life or pro-choice activists. It is to shed light on the forgotten 3% in this war.
It is to remind people that there are some of us stuck in the middle— forced to make the tough decisions that nobody else behind a keyboard full of hate has had to make.
I hope you never have to become a faceless, nameless, shoved-to-the-side statistic.
I pray you never have to feel the tear in your heart as you read debates clumping you in with the likes of Charles Manson and Hitler.
You can say, “it if was me I would have (fill in the blank)”, but I can tell you from experience, that you have no idea what you would do until you are face to face with it.
And I pray you never are.