I was sent home, still pregnant with a baby who could never take his first breath no matter what I decided.
It has been seven years since I said goodbye to my surprise baby, Zeb. In December of 2005 I discovered I was pregnant for the third time. It was not a planned pregnancy, but a welcomed one. Everything seemed to be moving along smoothly.
On March 29, 2006, I had a mid-pregnancy ultrasound to check how things were progressing. I was in the blissful world, believing that this appointment was all about finding out the baby’s sex. My two sons, ages five and seven, were eagerly waiting to hear whether they would have a little brother or sister.
Instead we heard, “Something is wrong with the kidneys, I am going to get the doctor.”
We were sent home with a number to call a high-risk OB for a second opinion and better equipment to diagnose the anomalies. Four days later we learned our baby was another boy, but that his condition was incompatible with life. His kidneys were full of cysts. No bladder was visible. There was no amniotic fluid in my womb to protect him. His lungs would not develop without amniotic fluid.
I was given two choices and told that neither would be easy. I chose to end my sweet baby’s suffering because, without amniotic fluid, he was being crushed by my organs.
The next day I met with my regular OB. He was unavailable that night to start my induction because he was attending a conference. He called on one of his colleagues, who agreed to start my induction that evening and let my regular OB take over the following morning.
That evening, I arrived at the hospital with my husband and my mother, who’d flown in from out of state to support me. I was given a gown and my husband went down to register me. Just as the nurse was starting my IV, another nurse arrived and said my OB was on the phone. He apologized and said the other doctor was now refusing to come because it was “against his morals.” He’d no idea that he felt that way or would never have asked him. This did not make it any better or easier for me.
I was sent home, still pregnant with a baby who could never take his first breath no matter what I decided. I was his life support. Although the high-risk OB agreed to start my induction, I now had to wait until Friday, April 7 and go to a different hospital. Those two added days of waiting were pure hell. I had to live life as if nothing was wrong because I had two other sons to take care of.
It was cruel for me and for my unborn son. It was cruel for my living sons, who did not understand why a doctor would not help their mommy and their sick brother.
Because this anti-choice doctor decided to set me up, promising he would help and then standing me up, my baby’s gestational age went two days beyond 20 weeks. Right now, Texas is considering a 20-week abortion ban. If something like this had been in effect during my pregnancy, I would have been forced to carry my dying baby until I went into labor on my own. Without amniotic fluid, he’d have been crushed in a slow and painful death.
This ban wouldn’t benefit anyone. Women do not always have their second-trimester ultrasound appointment before 20 weeks gestation. In the case of a fatal anomaly or a poor prognosis, this ban takes away the humane choice to spare their baby the pain of being carried to term. For mothers and babies with a diagnosis like Zeb’s, it would stretch those two days of hell we experienced into months.