Nine years ago I found out that I was twenty three weeks pregnant with a sick and dying baby.
“Not compatible with life.”
“Even if you make it to term, he won’t survive the trauma of labor.”
“Your baby is going to die.”
The echoes of voices breathed into my bones as I laid on the hospital table shortly after having the level two ultrasound that followed an amniocentesis confirming that my baby boy had a chromosomal abnormality called Trisomy 18.
A hole in his heart.
Thick tumors on his brain.
Sick, deformed hands.
My child who I had dreams and hopes for, a life growing deep within me that I wanted more than my life itself was given a death sentence. My heart was plunged into a grave that at times I still believe resides in with him. Dark, deep and barren.
“What do you want to do?” The White Coat asked me.
My head spun, my muscles tensed and my baby kicked.
“What do you mean, what do I want to do?” Perplexed by his question I sat holding the hole in my stomach where they had just pierced out fluid to tell me the fate of my life growing inside me, I sat tearstained wondering what in the world did I want to do? Die. Yes, in that moment I wanted to die. For him. Let him have my life. Oh, by the way, his name is Zachary and I wanted Zachary to have my life. A soul for a soul. I’d easily jump off that cliff for him.
“I want this nightmare to be over.” I gasped staring deeply into the deadpanned doctors eyes.
“Ami, do you want to interrupt the pregnancy, or carry him to term where he won’t survive? Where you risk your own health. What do you want to do?”
Immediately my husband bellowed into the darkness of the blinding room, “We want to interrupt. I can’t lose her too.”
I gasped. Lose me too? The doctors in a synonymous state shook their heads up and down. Yes, lose me too.
Pro-life my whole existence, I agreed. Besides, the doctor didn’t say “abortion”. He clearly said “interrupt.” A much nicer term. Something I could live with, right? The overhead dim lights took the brightness away of the gravity of the words of it all, the smell of hospital made knew by hope that I wouldn’t have to live another moment with gushing women wanting to touch my swelling belly with a non-thriving baby that was sentenced to death. Interrupt. We prelude our thoughts all the time, the shadows in our mind that overcome them with what we think they should be. I blocked out the convictions of my youth and stared blankly into my sonographers eyes that crystalised the ocean, that brought life in the face of death. Her head moved up and down in a synchronized dance telling me no matter what I chose it was okay. In my mind’s eyes I interrupted her and trembled out the words; “I just can’t.”
“Well, some people don’t want their babies if they aren’t perfect.” The main White Coat Doctor said and hastily left the dark yet bright small, stale, sickly smelling room. Brutal. You have never lived this moment, I thought. You arrogant, judgemental man.
…I want him…Yet can’t have him…I yelled out with a voice that had no voice. Yet, at that time I did. Abortion still existed in my state after 20 weeks at this time and the choice was in my hands, in my heart and completely up to me. It was my body after all. My choice, his sick broken body to do what with I willed it so.
Nights turned into days, appointments confirmed the amnio over and over. Pictures on the screen echoed the tumors, holes in his heart and his hands, over and over we saw the pictures that justified it all. The bad hands were what made our doctors in Kenosha worried enough to send us to the big city hospital in the first place.
Zachary was dying. He really was. Nothing was bringing him into the perfection that we dreamed he’d live in. A child that can run, play and actually thrive in. Not one that will die any day in my body, or in my arms shortly after birth. I thought in my youth I was one of those women who could do so, but at 34 I realized I wasn’t that woman. I just couldn’t. I needed interruption of this torment, this flood of grief and a longing to be free of being pregnant with a dying child who was in fact suffering inside me, not thriving and growing, one who was waiting for the moment. The breath of non existence.
I was resolved, after doctor after doctor told me that I risked my own health. Hypertension, heart failure; the list went on and on. Alan’s skin paled when the risks were made aware again and again and I held Zachary in my arms through my stomach, coupling him with my love as my body was the cavern he lived within. He would die, but today he was alive, kicking inside me. His existence at that moment was life, yet, his terptidude was death. But isn’t that the case of us all? Who are we to decide when that time comes? That thought still haunts me today.
I wasn’t a Christian then, but I was raised one. Deeply demonstrative in my youth about my faith, especially when it came to abortion. I breathed pro-life and argued the right to a babies life no matter the circumstances, well maybe not in rape or incest, but I was pretty dead set on babies getting to live. I even told a friend of mine once who thought she was pregnant that I would take her baby so she wouldn’t have an abortion. We were sixteen.
My husband and I decided to interrupt Zachary’s life. For me, for them, Caleb, Cameron and Trasen, our three other children who needed me to be here. I mean, Zachary was going to die any way and they couldn’t lose me too while I carried a sick baby that could suck the life right out of me as he continued his voyage towards what I somehow hoped would be the gates of heaven. Hoped.
I had lost a baby 17 months earlier who had died in my stomach, no choice to make, no idea of interruption, just a death. It was much, much easier. I promise you this, it was much easier. At least they’d have each other, dancing as brothers should in the sunlit clouds in the sky, overlooking the oceans I’m sure that there are in Heaven.
The day of interruption came and I slowly throughout the day became encased in labor without interruption. Contractions cradled my stomach so tight I felt it so deep that I had no choice but to give into the fortune in the stars that a God I didn’t believe in was giving me a piece of heaven. My heart beating in the throws of labor as a form of upward falling. The gift of freedom I was being given was a trade of decision versus fate. My spirit accepted the gift, my body caved and I ventured into a force of producing a lifeless body fast and hard.
Zachary was born still at 8:04 am on a Tuesday morning in a form of surrender in a sweep of love that God gave me, knowing that the youth of my belief and truth would always be there and the future me couldn’t live with the reality that I chose interruption even if it was the best choice for me and my family in that moment. That time stamp on my life slowly began my voyage back to my love of God again. Of Forever, of Truth. My knees hit the ground that day as my baby slithered out of me, sick, dead and with all the presentations the doctors told me he had, of Trisomy 18, a sickness not compatible with life.
When God placed it on my heart to write this blog in the climate we live in now with new abortion laws, I have lived with tremendous guilt. Even though I didn’t have to do it, empires of reflection have caught me half way between grace and guilt. 9 years later, I wouldn’t have that choice as the laws changed. After 20 weeks gestation a woman has no choice to interrupt now. But would that have saved me the blinding ravage I still face each and every day that I was going to do it? I think so. If I didn’t have a choice but to wait for Zachary to come on his own, the choice would have not been on me, the decision of interruption wouldn’t reside and I could live guilt free. I have fallen back into my Savior’s arms, entrenched in my faith once again but with much more fervor than ever. Since then, with the thought that I had decided to do it, I have faced depression, addiction and severe anxiety.
It is a huge issue in our nation at this time. Laws are being made that call to the truth of life. No matter your stance, it isn’t just your body. It is her’s and his and your partner’s who really has no say as they say it is your body, your choice. If it were today I wouldn’t have been given the choice I had then. I would have given birth to a broken baby who had died in childbirth, I would have had no choice to do so. And is that such a bad thing? Society and famous people say yes. But, I would have held him with no guilt that held a crown of thorns in my head so deep and bloody I’d have to dig them out for the rest of my life.
This isn’t a political blog. I’ve never been a controversial author, this is just my story. I realize I may lose friends and family over it but it is my story to tell. Zachary was mine, life was in my hands and I know that it was his body, yet my choice. And the echo was made for me by the God that loves me and knew I just couldn’t have lived with it all, yet I still have a hard time to this day existing in a world where I thought I could. I love you all and understand we have different views on this one, but this is my tale. My Zachary is in heaven with his brother and I’m on a earth that I have found a place I can live in because the choice of it all was taken away from me, because God took him before I could.