When I was 29 years old…
I had a very high risk pregnancy.
My life could have been at risk during both the pregnancy and delivery.
I had a husband and two small sons at home.
Abortion was suggested to me by my physicians.
I would like to share the story of my last pregnancy. But first you must know… I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I believe in life. I believe life begins at conception.
At age 29, I was a young mom of two little boys and found myself in a situation I never expected. Backing up a bit… at the age of 23, I gave birth to my first son, Zach, and due to complications I became a paraplegic. During surgery they discovered some life threatening issues, including an aneurysm and two spinal AVM’s. The specialists at Columbia University Hospital in NYC did their best to block blood flow to those areas but were not able to block them more than 40%. The paralysis was caused by the extra blood flow from the pregnancy so a future pregnancy would hold a lot of unknowns and possible risks.
After many discussions, we decided that we weren’t ready to take any risks with my life so we chose to adopt our second child. We adopted our second son, Alex, as a three year old from an orphanage in Romania. I can’t lie and say that there weren’t big adjustments, especially for Alex who had left the only life he knew to join a family of strangers in a foreign land but also for Zach who had been our one and only for five years and now had to share his room, his toys and his parents with a brother who didn’t even speak English. But as a family we began to adapt to our new normal and settle into a routine together. As a paraplegic, it took some time for me to acclimate to having two active, busy preschoolers but I truly loved being a mom to these two little ones.
As Alex’s first anniversary with our family approached, I began to notice that I was not feeling well. I had a lot of nausea and even bouts of vomiting. Never giving pregnancy a passing thought, I mentioned it to my friend, Cindy. She asked me if pregnancy was a possibility which I immediately laughed at the notion. Yet as days passed and the symptoms increased, the thought took root in my head. I mentioned it to my husband who promptly drove to Walmart purchasing a double pack of pregnancy tests.
The first test yielded a very faint pink line but it was not very clear one way or the other. The second test was similar. It showed a faint line indicating pregnancy but unlike our first pregnancy, it was not immediately positive. Steve hopped back in the car and back to Walmart for another test in a different brand. He came home with another two pack. This time the line was very obvious that I was indeed pregnant. I took the fourth test just because my insides were freaking out as my brain began to realize what the positive test meant.
This test meant a precious little life was growing inside me. But it also meant an abundance of conflicting emotions and thoughts.
I was overjoyed. I was terrified.
I wanted more children. I didn’t want to leave the two children I already had.
I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. I didn’t want anyone to know.
I couldn’t wait to have a newborn again. What on earth would I do with a newborn?
I wanted to live. I would give my life for this child.
God blessed me. WHY God?
These thoughts (and many more) were my constant companions. Once reality set in, I began to see various doctors trying to determine what this pregnancy meant for me.
One doctor sat me down and gave me some scary truths. My situation was unknown to all of my specialists. They had not had a situation like mine and were unsure of the complications and risks to my health. I had two children at home and I had to consider them because this was a very high risk pregnancy for me. He laid out the option of an abortion saying that I needed to consider all of my options since there were just so many unknowns. While he did not push it, I knew that it was a suggestion he thought I should seriously consider.
I had gone alone to that appointment. I needed to hear the truth, but I was frightened by all he said. Was I selfish if I had this baby? Would I die and leave my boys alone? What was the right decision? Yet as I left his office, peace settled around my heart and I knew that an abortion was not the answer for me. The peace didn’t remove all of my fears. Some days I would look at the faces of my little boys and just beg God to keep me safe so I could watch them grow up. But the peace gave me the assurance that no matter what happened, God was in control and I could trust Him with not only my life but the life of my unborn baby.
Once the doctors realized that abortion was not going to be an option, it was never mentioned again as they just jumped on board to make this pregnancy go as easily as possible. They still discussed concerns but I felt as though each doctor and nurse I met made it their goal to get both of us to the finish line healthy and whole.
As the pregnancy progressed, I spent numerous hours in one doctor’s office or another. I saw a neurosurgeon for the issues in my spine; I went weekly to my OB/GYN for monitoring; I went weekly to a high risk doctor for ultrasounds and testing; I had to see my urologist (this baby killed my bladder); and my regular doctors who just followed my personal health and my medications. Medications were another big issue because some I absolutely had to have, yet could harm the baby so I opted not to take them despite the added problems it caused me physically.
When I was 34 weeks pregnant, I went in to see my OB who was a believer and very compassionate man. He came in and he asked me how I was feeling and although I am a very strong person, I burst into tears and told him I could not be pregnant for one more second.
I was peeing my pants constantly. I was either constipated or had the runs. I had non stop muscle spasms. I was uncomfortable. I was nauseous. I WAS DONE.
(I also had rowdy four & six year old sons and had just packed and moved our entire home while my husband was out of town for work quite a bit. My rope was getting shorter and shorter and my grip was slipping.)
After an amniocentesis to make sure the baby would be safe, my doctors got together and made a delivery plan. I would deliver my baby (even after weekly ultrasounds, I did not know if it was a boy or girl) by C-Section four weeks early. The neurosurgeon did not feel it was safe to insert an epidural in my spine so I had to be put under general anesthesia for the delivery. The high risk specialist would be in attendance to monitor me while my OB would perform the C-Section.
Moments before I was to go into the operating room, my husband and I prayed together. We were both afraid. I was shaking. But we trusted God. No matter what would happen in the next hour, we had trust that God was writing our story.I knew I made the right choice. This unborn baby who I had yet to meet was as much my child as Zach or Alex and I could never take any of their lives. Even if it meant losing mine.
Praise the Lord my story was not yet over. After I woke up from surgery, I saw my husband standing there with our precious baby girl. Unspeakable joy filled me as I realized that I had two little boys and now a baby girl. My heart wanted to burst with gratitude for surviving the pregnancy and delivery and the realization that my deepest prayers were answered and the desire of my heart was given. Tears filled my eyes as I kissed my husband knowing together we would watch our sweet family grow.
My sons gained a little sister, Morgan, and other than an infection in my body, I was healthy. I did have my tubes tied because I didn’t want to risk my life again. I am still so grateful for these unexpected gifts from God. All three of my kiddos. My three kids-in-law. Realizing how valuable life is. Learning to depend on God. Discovering peace and joy amidst worry and fear. Trusting when your faith is shaky. All unexpected. All gifts.
My story may not be how I would have written it but I have learned to be thankful that God is the author holding the pen.
My story < His glory
As New York passed the bill this week for full term abortions, I have seen and heard arguments from both sides of the debate. Personally I am deeply saddened by this bill as I value both life and adoption. I do not write my story to debate or argue with anyone but rather to be understanding of how circumstances and life can be frightening. I hope to encourage women to help one another, support one another, love one another. I also hope it encourages you to trust God when you feel hopeless and afraid.
Maybe choice begins with the choice to join our hands with less judgement and more love. Less criticism and more compassion. Less selfishness and more serving. Less guilt and more prayer. Less me and more Jesus.
The day Morgan was born & her big brother’s meeting her. (Steve lost the stache thank goodness!)
Zach, Morgan & Alex on Morgan’s wedding day
Photo by Cross Photography
God knows you and loves you.