My husband and I married in 2010, after 8 years together. We had a home and good income, so we decided that we were emotionally and financially ready to have a baby.
32 days later, I’m pregnant! I always wanted a girl.
Fast forward again, to 20 week check-up (or, as any patient of a busy OB/GYN practice knows, a 20-23 week check-up, just whenever they can squeeze you in). The big deal at 20 weeks for parents is finding out gender. The big deal for clinicians is the anatomy scan. Only at ~20 weeks are body parts and organs large enough to examine for abnormality or illness. Our appt was the last one, on a Friday.
The tech told me I was going to have a little girl!
Moments later, devastating news: something is wrong. We were told we desperately needed to see neonatal specialists to verify what our GYN was seeing on ultrasound. We couldn't be seen until Monday afternoon.
After a weekend from hell, I was examined for almost 2 hours, by a team of experts at the specialist’s office. I knew 2 things: I didn't want anything to be wrong with my baby and it didn't matter to me if she was mentally or physically handicapped, my girl would go home with me.
And then, I learned there was a third thing, as the team of specialists turned to us and said the words,"...not compatible with life..."
I was prepared for everything but that. I asked if they were certain. I asked for candor. I asked how she could move so much if she was so sick. I was told, "Yes. Her movements are seizure-like activity, and not normal fetal movements. She should not have made it to this point. It is a form of miracle that she did. She should already be dead. If she could make it to term, which she undoubtedly will not, the birth process would surely kill her. If it did not, the moment she was separate from your body, she would die."
I was also told that my options were to end my pregnancy, or go home and wait for my baby to die. I was told, that if I chose to terminate, I had 30 minutes to make the decision, because of a waiting period enforced by law. If I took even 1 day, the waiting period would cause the procedure (which must happen out of state) to occur 1 day too late for it to be legal, according to her estimated gestational age.
We were given 30 minutes to understand and accept that our baby girl was going to die. I was given 30 minutes to make the choice of a lifetime. Only 30 minutes because of a legality that regulates a woman's health choices, with the focus of supporters being on "women who are irresponsible, or find being pregnant inconvenient."
My pregnancy was NOT inconvenient. MY pregnancy was planned. MY life is stable. MY DAUGHTER was dying, and I was the life support system. We had 30 minutes.
We chose to let her go. We chose to not prolong her dying. We chose to not go home, not knowing when I would deliver a blue, lifeless baby. We chose not to spend (possibly) the next four months planning a funeral instead of a nursery. I chose not to be a living tomb for my dying child.
But we had just 30 minutes to decide. We should have been able to have more time. We should have been able to get a 2nd, 3rd, or 30th opinion. My husband and I decided together, with the support of our friends and family.
Our sweet baby girl passed away just days after our 1st anniversary. We still mourn for a daughter we never knew, never held. We do not regret our decision. We only regret that she could never have lived.
In the worst moment of our lives, we were being essentially told, "Hurry up, because in a half-hour, the government will take your choice from you."
It was always OUR choice to make. We should have been able to take the time to give the decision the consideration that it deserved- the consideration that my daughter deserved. But we could only give her 30 minutes.