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When Our Daughter Was Given a Death Sentence, We Were Given a “Choice”

I Didn’t Come Home With A Baby, But I Still Gave Birth

Our daughter died. We were given a “choice”. The choice of when she would die. Not if, but when.

It’s not what I would really call much of a choice, but I’m glad we had the choice that we did.

It was the hardest moment of our lives, but I took comfort knowing that we could make the decision that was right for our family.

I’d like to give you a glimpse into that “choice”.

But I digress. First I want to give you a scenario so you can frame your mindset…

Your spouse or perhaps your mother or father is given a death sentence.

Let’s say they have an aggressive form of cancer, or some sudden reason that requires them to be on life-support.

It’s not something that is curable, and there is nothing you can do to heal this family member.

They could go through extensive major surgeries, over and over. They could live in the hospital and have their life prolonged.

Their prognosis still terminal.

Their quality of life non existent.

Or, you could remove life-support and they could be put into hospice, kept comfortable and allowed to go peacefully and in as little pain as possible.

Do you know what you’d do?

Obviously, the answer is very dependent on the person’s wishes. Hopefully you’ve been able to have conversations around their wishes and desires.

But, what if the person isn’t coherent and the decision is on you?

What if you are the person responsible for making the decision?

Do you choose to have your loved one fight, or choose to let them go?

But more importantly, do you think you should get to choose?

Or, should the decision be out of your hands?

Should everyone be made to fight?

Or, should each family get to decide what is right for them?

Should each scenario be considered?

Or, should there be only one path that every family has to follow?

I’m guessing most of us believe that we should be given the right to choose whether we put our loved one into hospice or into surgery.

I think most of us believe that it doesn’t matter what WE personally would choose, but that we should have the choice.

I think we all realize that our own decision in this circumstance might be different than our neighbor’s, but that we all have the right to choose. And that our decision may change depending on the specific circumstance.

So, now let me tell you about our “choice”.

I want you to keep your above decision in mind when I tell you that our choice was for our unborn child that had a terminal condition.

Suddenly, you are forced into the pro-life versus pro-choice thought process.

Why our society does this I’ll never understand.

The scenario is the same.

A loved one has a terminal condition. A family member has a choice to make. And, two lives are potentially at stake… mom and child.

If, in the above scenario, you’d decided that we all had the right to choose, yet you consider yourself “pro-life” when it comes to abortion laws, I want you to keep an open mind as I tell you our story.

Our daughter had a condition called trisomy 13. It’s fatal. We had a few “choices”:

1. Carry to term, do no life saving measures and try to keep our daughter comfortable.

2. Carry to term and do surgery after surgery to prolong her inevitable death.

3. Do a D&E procedure (abortion procedure) to end the pregnancy.

4. Induce the birth early to end the pregnancy, and let our child go peacefully.

All 4 of these options result in the death of our child. So, we had to find the route that was best for our family.

Many people feel that we shouldn’t have had a choice. But first let me tell you this.

We desperately wanted this pregnancy. This was not an unwanted pregnancy. This was not a decision we came to lightly.

We chose option #4.

We chose to induce at 19.5 weeks and let our baby earn her wings early.

We didn’t want to make our child fight and endure surgery after surgery only to have a poor quality of life that was simply prolonging her inevitable death.

We didn’t want to put her through that.

We wanted to let her go peacefully and in no pain- essentially what I think of as the hospice route.

Babies feel no pain until about 24 weeks. And let me tell you, our daughter knew nothing but love, and never knew pain. I got to hold her in my arms as she peacefully left this world.

You can read our full story here in chronological order. I wrote live on my blog at the time as we were finding out the news and making this heart wrenching choice. I spilled my heart out in my writing. You can read the struggle, the grief, the unfathomable pain we went through…

Had our country passed pro-life abortion laws, we wouldn’t have been able to make that “choice” to let her go peacefully.

We would have been forced to put our child and my body through unnecessary pain and risk.

What I found to be so amazing, was that the people following our story and our journey, didn’t even consider this to be under the abortion laws until I mentioned it.

It hadn’t even entered their minds when it came to our scenario.

I also never felt like we were having an abortion. We were honoring our daughter’s life. I still gave birth to her. I held her in my arms. I was crushed when I had to sign abortion paperwork.

I was crushed when the terminology was that I was terminating and aborting. This was a wanted pregnancy- a wanted child. This was devastating to us.

Many friends and family of ours, and readers of this blog that consider themselves to be “pro-life”, never considered this to be an abortion.

They fully agreed that we should have had the choices that were given to us. Many of them even stated they’d have made the same choice that we did. Pro-life supporters said these things.

Because here’s the reality- when we formulate our opinions on pro-life versus pro-choice, we typically aren’t thinking of scenarios like this. But we need to.

What if the terminology was different?

What if instead of calling it pro-life versus pro-choice, we called it pro-choice versus no-choice?

How would you vote then?

Voting as pro-life, takes the choice away from others- even in scenarios like this.

Voting as pro-choice NEVER means that you are anti-life, or even that you’d personally get an abortion. I never thought I’d get an abortion. Yet here I am classified as someone that has.

Voting pro-choice means that we are voting for the right to choose. And those that vote pro-life, are taking that choice away.

Had our country passed more restrictive “pro-life” abortion laws, we would have been forced to put our child through a potentially painful experience. I am forever thankful that we didn’t have to do that.

We need to rethink the term pro-life. We are all pro life.

Yes, we are all PRO-LIFE and in favor of life. 

And those of you that consider yourselves to be of the pro-life stance, I think many of you believe in choice more than you realize.

It’s not at all black and white like our society has made it. So many of the people that are pro-life, are actually pro-choice.

You may not ever want an abortion. You may be in favor of life (as we all are). But guess what? So many of you are also in favor of the choice that we made.

I leave you with some quotes from people that followed our journey. MANY are people that consider themselves to be pro-life, yet they think we should have had the right to choose. You might be surprised to read them. I know I was….


Quotes From Readers, Friends and Family:

“I don’t think we share stories like this enough. The only things people talk about, politically, are the young mothers and their choices.”

“Religious or not I believe that unless one person’s choice impacts myself or my family in a negative way then it truly is none of my business.”

“I’m still pro life but I think I will be a lot softer and more sensitive toward others after hearing your story.”

“I am a religious person and consider myself pro life, however I also know it’s not my place to judge others. One of the hardest things I have ever done in my life was to sit down with [my daughter and her husband] and tell them that I would completely be supportive if they chose to terminate their pregnancy, actually I felt this would be the best decision in their situation.

“Knowing there was something wrong with the placenta scared me to death that my daughter’s life [in addition to her baby] could also be at risk. So, even though I do consider myself pro life I feel that there are circumstances where the choice to terminate is the best option.”

“I am pro-life, and because I am pro-life I believe in a woman’s right to choose. Your experience has only strengthened my stance that as women, we know what is best for our families and our bodies.”

I am pro life but also believe in situations where choices need to be made that are beneficial for first off the baby and the health of the mom (mental and physical)”

In all honesty, I didn’t even think about pro choice versus pro life when following your journey. I thought about a family losing their beloved little girl, and I could only feel sadness, love, and compassion for every one of you.”

“I’m pro-choice and actually became more so when I was pregnant myself. Partly because I did read similar stories and think through situations like these.”

“So I would not expect someone who does not believe as I do to choose what I would choose. And through that, I understand your heart and desire to protect your daughter from pain.”

“Although I believe the Bible is the source of truth and should be the authority from which we make choices, I also think that defining what that truth looks like practically is not always clear. Your situation, in my opinion, speaks to that thought.”

I’m pro-life. But I do think there are situations when abortion can and possibly should occur.

“I am pro choice. I have strong beliefs about this but I do believe that your situation did strengthen my view.”

“I’ve been pro-choice since I was sixteen and realized that, as much as I may not like the idea of abortion for myself personally, it needs to be a safe and legal option for women.”

“I know far more women who’ve ended up in the position of deciding whether or not to terminate a desperately wanted pregnancy than I ever thought I would. Each has made a different decision, but each has had the opportunity to make the choice that she can live with. That’s what it’s all about for me.”

“My reasoning for being firmly pro-choice comes down to one basic idea. Pregnancy is a medical condition. It limits what you are able to do, how well you can work, what you can eat, what you can do in your free time. We should not force a medical condition on someone else.”

“Like many other things in life, it is very hard for me to see a clear line of pro-life or pro-choice (even with my religious beliefs)…It’s not black and white, and your experience showcases that. And to be perfectly honest, I hadn’t even considered your journey as a case of pro-life or pro-choice”

“I’ve always had the mindset that while I could never imagine myself doing it – abortion – (but I also never imagined your situation, so now I can’t say that), I don’t feel like it’s my right to tell someone else they can’t. I guess when I comes right down to it, I’m pro-choice.”

I suppose I fall in to the category as one who supported you, that is prolife. You are right, I never pictured your specific situation until you shared it with me. But I also think I fall into the category that you talked about where there are situations where it’s not just black and white. I don’t think that babies should be killed just because someone doesn’t have money or they are too young I think adoption is a good choice for that. I do think parents should have a choice if moms life is endangered by carrying baby, if baby has a fatal condition, or if a Momma is raped.

“I consider myself pro life, but never even thought about pro-choice or pro-life in your situation.”

“I have been pro-choice since some time in high school. Your story didn’t change my opinion, but I do have enormous sympathy and compassion for your situation. I actually wouldn’t consider your process a termination. April would not have survived long outside the womb regardless of when you gave birth, and may not have made it much longer as it was. I think you chose well in that you prevented further health complications for yourself, which decreases burden on your family and allows you to be the strongest possible for healing in your grief. You also gave birth at a time when April was not in pain and allowed her to pass in peace surrounded by family. This to me should be considered an elective induction, with the knowledge of the ultimate outcome.”