When we finally found we were pregnant on March 25, 2011, the time couldn't have been riper - what joy it would be for our six year old son to finally have a baby sister! But from the moment we received the genetic results on May 16th 2011, it seemed I was doomed.
Our baby girl had Trisomy 18. An extra chromosome. Three of the #18 chromosome instead of two. It turned out that one little #18 chromosome has more power than all the others put together. It is a tiny tornado, packing a destructive force stronger than life itself.
We quickly learned that half of all babies born with this condition die in the first week of life. 90% of them have heart defects. Most of them have other defects as well, including spina bifida, cleft palate, deafness, joint contractures, and mental retardation. Only an unlucky few survive beyond a matter of weeks, and those don't last much longer. The term that is branded in my brain from our meeting with my OBGYN is "incompatible with life". I was carrying a child that was incompatible with life. How could it be?? As soon as it hit the outside air, it would begin to die. She. "It" was a she. We could tell that from the genetic analysis too, of course. She was doomed.
My husband and I quickly signed the abortion papers. We both knew we couldn't face the thought of birthing a baby girl only to watch her die in agony. This was the right decision. We had no doubt in our minds. I was not the typical abortion patient, and yet this was an atypical situation for us.
From week six to week thirteen, I had fallen in love with the sonograms. Our baby girl was very much a real person despite that -- MY person. I loved her. I love her still.
The two days we had preceding the surgery didn't give us any time to contemplate what was going on. There were papers to sign and I had to get mentally ready by fasting and resting.
The thoughts of the moments prior to the operation room are still so clear. I remember the anesthesiologist saying, "Here is some happy medicine," and then wheeled me off. They then rolled me unto the surgery table and I said, "Please g-d, make everything okay. Please take good care of me and my child." And they said, "We will." I let them do what they had to do by putting my feeble body in their control and care.
I woke up from the general sedation as they moved me into the recovery room. Without my glasses, I tried to make out the dimly lit room. I heard buzzes and beeps, and a monitor took my blood pressure every 7 minutes or so. I thought, "Yes! I'm alive!" The doctor came in and said everything went okay and that I did great. I was so grateful for that since I really did not know what to expect.
But two days later, I have found myself online again grieving a baby girl that I never got to hold. I hope she knows how much she is loved and that one day I will get to be the Mom I never got to be… for her.
I want her to know that we wanted her with all our hearts, but we didn’t want her to have the pain and suffering that went with Trisomy 18. Not at all.
However, it's hard to still move forward when I read terms like,
"Only an unlucky few survive"
"She was doomed"
"what was left of their defective baby girl"
"this ruined life"
"the mutant child"
My baby girl was not doomed. She was not a defective baby. She was not a ruined life. She was definitely not a mutant child.
She was my daughter.
I am still in the grieving process and I don't know how long it will last. It is funny, but I feel like I love her even more after our decision to have the abortion.