Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Thoughts on Carrying to term
Having 2 babies diagnosed with fatal Birth Defects over the past 3 years has given me a lot to think about. I have written a couple of different things based on my experiences....
May 29, 2009
Looking back at the past few years I often wonder if I would change anything. When I became pregnant with Emma we were so excited, there was so much hope for a new family of four. When we had our diagnosis with her it was like that all shattered. I knew what Anencephaly was, but I am not sure I knew enough. When faced with an awful situation like a fatal birth defect what do you do? The medical field is telling you there is no chance. Your child will not live, the birth could be a risk for your health and so on and so on. When we had Emma's diagnosis I was in shock. My husband and I did not know where to turn. We both wanted what was best for our baby and to keep me healthy. So it seemed the best decision was to have her and we did. We lost Emma at 21 weeks. The next 19 weeks I not only mourned my daughter, but my pregnancy with her. I thought everyday what I should look like, how big my belly should be and when I should be feeling her kick. I never once thought I did something wrong, but I always wondered if I could have made it a little more right. I don't think I even began to heal until her due date. It was like I needed to get to that point, when she should have been here, to allow myself to heal. When I became pregnant with our son I knew no matter what things would be different. I had learned so much about myself and my strength in carrying and losing Emma. When we had his diagnosis at 18 weeks with Anencephaly my husband and I both knew that we were going to carry him. I had done so much research after we lost Emma and with Connor's diagnosis. I knew that people had carried to term and that they were fine. Of course you have an increased risk of excess fluid, increased risk of c-section...but that could be true with any pregnancy. My pregnancy with Connor was wonderful. He moved all of the time and kicked and bounced around. I got the joy of motherhood for him by carrying him. I knew he wouldn't live if at all for very long, but it didn't matter. I spent 5 months longer with him than I was able to with Emma. Do I feel bad sometimes that I didn't give Emma that time. Yes and No. We did the best thing for our family that we could have at the place and time we had Emma. If we hadn't lost her the way we did we may have never enjoyed or cherished our time with Connor the way we did. There are things in life you can't change, and maybe they were never meant to be changed. I believe that God sent Emma and Connor both to us for special reasons. Maybe Emma was here to help us appreciate our time with Connor. We had 9 precious months with Connor and we were able to hold him in our arms. He was born to Heaven, but it didn't matter. He was here and he was ours. Any parents faced with theses difficult situations and terrible choices should always do what is best for their family. If I have any advice to give, having lost a child both at 21 weeks and at term. I would carry to term. For all of the things I think I might have changed with Emma, the thought has never crossed my mind for Connor. I know I gave him all of the life that I could and kept him here as long as God gave him. Being able to have my husband and daughter feel his kicks, enjoy my cravings and have the time as a family is something we will always cherish. Emma and Connor have taught us so much about life and about love. They have made our faith stronger and our family stronger. I have had so many people tell me that carrying to term is so brave and that they could never do it. You never know what you are capable of until you are in that situation. Love is a pretty amazing thing and the love you have for your children is powerful. Being a mother is the greatest gift that God can give us. Knowing that your child may not live past birth is a scary thing, but it does not make you love them any less. If anything it allows you to love more openly and more honestly. Emma and Connor have made a great impact on many lives in the short time we had them. I know we will meet our babies again and until that day I know God is holding them close.
In the past, I can't say I ever took a side on the pro choice/pro life debate. I thought of it as a decision that a woman would come to, that extenuating circumstances would play a major factor in. When I had a child with a fatal birth defect, I didn't even think of myself as someone having to make a “choice” into one of these groups. I remember my mom saying that my Aunt had mentioned it to her, but really didn't even get the concept at the time. It was in the months after that I realized that “termination” is a medical term that lead me into the “pro choice” realm of thinking. When I lost Emma, I never thought of her as “aborted”. She is my child and I love her with all of my heart. T.J. and I made the best decision for ourselves and for Anna. We thought we made the best decision for Emma.
All of the months I grieved for her I sat at the cemetery and looked at the other stones. If only I had thought of the Mother's who lost their children because they didn't stay in their wombs long enough. These babies that came too soon and couldn't be saved. What their mother's wouldn't give to have carried them longer. What I wouldn't give to have carried Emma longer.
I guess there is a turning point in every persons life. A place where they can stop and realize that they have changed. Sitting on a hot Summers day in that cemetery I changed. It was Emma's due date July 28. I had made it to when she should have been here. I was able to heal a little that day and I was able to see things a lot clearer. That was the day I changed my mind on what I thought was a “political issue”.
As I sit here and type this it is the day before Connor's birthday. The night I went into the hospital was one year ago today. I can sit here and think that I did everything for my son to give him as much life as I could. I can look fondly on my time with Connor. I was given such a gift to carry a baby for 9 months who was not able to survive outside of my womb. How can anyone not believe in God or in Miracles....without these things what was this experience! I felt every kick and hiccup and helped him to grow into a perfect baby boy. I was able to deliver him, hold him, kiss him, love him and he went to be with our Lord in his own time. I wish every mom faced with a diagnosis like ours could step into my mind for just a few minutes. I wish I could go back 2 years 1 month and a few hours and step into my own mind today. Would I have done things differently? I guess I will never know. One thing I do know is that my life has been forever changed by my two precious babies. I thank God and Emma everyday for the things they have taught me and the strength they gave me to carry Connor. What a gift to be given.
Happy Birthday Connor