After all, I did not get a miracle from God. But God gives me the support to live through it.
Like many women here I had never imagined that I would have to have an abortion. I thought I would always choose to keep a baby despite any financial situations, or not having a partner/husband to support me. But it never occurred to me that a child could be sick and the decision to terminate a pregnancy would happen because of this.
Deciding to have a second baby
With my first child, my son, the pregnancy went smoothly. I was 40 when our son turned three years old and we decided to expand our family. I got pregnant right away. This time it was different. The first trimester was hard on me. I constantly had a low-grade fever, nausea, strange pain in my lower back, and tiredness. My OB/GYN said it was all okay. She told me things should improve as I got closer to the second trimester, which it did.
Second trimester – bad news
By 14 weeks I was much better. But then the terrible news came. My OB/GYN called me about the results of my DNA blood test and left a message to return her call ASAP. I realized something was wrong. I call her back and she told me my child had Down syndrome.
I remember asking my doctor, “What am going to do now?” She replied, “It is your decision to have an abortion or keep this child.” I was shocked by this answer. By asking her I had meant that maybe I needed additional testing, or maybe it was a mistake and I needed to repeat the blood test. My question certainly was not about abortion options. But after that call, all I could think about was what I was going to do if the screening results were right.
Waiting for my miracle from God (and a diagnosis)
We got an appointment with a genetic counselor. It was too early for an amniocentesis and too late for a CVS. We had to wait until I was a full 16 weeks, then another 2 weeks to get the results.
Those four weeks were the most terrible time of my life. I was pregnant and at the same time I was trying to detach myself from my baby to prepare myself for the worse. I tried to stop loving her (yes, it was a girl). I felt like a traitor to my daughter.
I went to the church, I prayed, I bargained with God. I didn’t want to lose hope. It was hard and I felt alone in my faith, believing in a miracle. Nobody else around me believed a miracle from God could happen.
My husband didn’t mind whether we did an amnio or not (although I insisted on it). He was quite satisfied with the DNA blood test results and didn’t believe that an amnio would show anything different. I felt like he gave up right away, that he didn’t want to fight for this baby. It was killing me.
The FISH results came back three days after we did the amnio and confirmed the diagnosis. I thought I was ready for such news. But I was not. I was crushed and devastated. It was a death sentence for me and my baby.
Deciding to have an abortion
My husband was convinced that an abortion was the right decision in this situation. Most of our close relatives (who knew what was happening) shared the same opinion even if they didn’t talk about it straight out.
I couldn’t imagine myself aborting my sweet baby whom I had seen many times in ultrasounds. At the same time, I did not want a life with Down syndrome for my baby. Who would take care of her when she became an adult… what would happen to her after we weren’t around, not able to help her? I did not want to put the burden of taking care of his sick sister on my son.
The abortion was scheduled. About a week before the abortion, I found a strange peace within myself. I could not cry anymore. I turned my attention back to my poor baby, telling her how sorry I was and how much I loved her. I wanted to feel her move in my womb. I started to value every remaining day with her.
Just two days before the abortion the final results of the amniocentesis results came back. The FISH results were confirmed.
I was lucky to find a place and people who did the procedure (a D&E). They were professional and very compassionate. Only one thing upset me. I thought the doctors would send for an after-abortion pathology report to confirm the Down syndrome diagnosis. And I thought we signed permission for this. But the doctors said they wouldn’t do that. They said that the amnio was pretty clear so there was no need to check one more time. I didn’t have the strength to find out if this was true. After all, it could not bring her back to me.
After the abortion, I got a memory box with my baby’s handprints and an ultrasound image inside. (I did not have the strength to look inside right away. It took me a month to find the courage to open the box). In the image, my baby had her head turned away from me, like she was disappointed in me. It was heartbreaking. At the same time, it’s important that I have something of her now that she’s gone.
We arranged the cremation of her remains by a funeral home.
God and My Community Support Me Through This
After all, I did not get a miracle from God. But God gives me the support to live through it. I found this website and it has helped me a lot. That’s probably the only reason I’ve decided to share my story here, too. I hope it helps someone else.
My sister-in-law is a religious person and has a great gift for finding the right words at the right time. Having my son helps me to cope with my grief too. Though my church does not approve of abortion, my priest told me he was going to pray for me and with me to help to heal my wounds.
Other relatives also struggled to help me, but didn’t know how. Some preferred to pretend like nothing had happened. Others tried to find the words but they were not right for me. I don’t judge them. If I were in their shoes I would probably behave the same way.
I made peace with my husband. He is a man. And for him, the baby was not as real as it was for me. He could not feel her presence like I could.
I am very grateful to my little girl, who I named Maria, for those five months we had together. Every day I pray and ask her and God to forgive me for my decision. The right decision and wrong decision at the same time. My little daughter… I miss her so much…
Maybe one day we can try again. But I know that another baby will never replace my Maria for me. Also, I have a great fear that something could go wrong again. I wish science could give us a precise answer in the first trimester. I think emotionally it may be easier to terminate a pregnancy when you are (for example) 8 weeks rather than 20. Maybe I am wrong.
I do not wish this kind of experience on anybody. I still feel guilt and sadness, but what has happened to me has become part of me and will stay with me until the end of my life.
CC0 public domain image courtesy of gsyoo via Pixabay