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In the spring of 2015, my husband and I found out we were expecting our second baby. When I was 18 weeks pregnant, our family walked into our anatomy scan thinking the biggest piece of information we’d be receiving that day was whether our two-year-old daughter would be having a baby brother or baby sister. Instead, we found out that our sweet baby had calcification building up on her heart, which is a symptom that presents itself in the end stages of heart failure. She was also developing fetal hydrops, a condition where fluid collects around several organs of the body. There was no medicine that could stop it or alleviate her symptoms, and there was no surgery to fix it.

The mortality rate for a baby with fetal hydrops and a structural heart defect is over 99%. If our baby did make it to birth, she would struggle to breathe or eat and would repeatedly experience heart attacks, strokes, seizures, and suffocation until one was strong enough to kill her.

We did not want our daughter to be born into a life where she would struggle with immeasurable pain from her first breath to her last. After several ultrasounds and fetal echocardiograms, and after visiting two of the best pediatric facilities in the nation, we knew what we had to do. At 23 weeks of pregnancy we made the heartbreaking but compassionate decision to terminate.

Everyone should be able to decide if, when, how, and with whom they start or grow a family.

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