Tag Archive: spina bifida


irma1

When I started thinking about having children and even long before.. I would never have guessed that the word abortion would ever be part of my vocabulary. I am definitely pro-life, and have been an active advocate against abortions, even doing speeches and presentations on the matter. I always thought that it was a black and white issue, and I am sure that for most people it still might be… I kind of wish that it was still that easy for me. But my life and view of things have changed dramatically over the last 3 years.

I’ve always wanted to be a mommy. I even wanted 6 children! But when I was about  20 years old, I was diagnosed with endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. My doctors told me I would have to have a lot of medical help if I want children and one doctor even told me that I will never have children.  About 9 months after I got married, I went to the gynecologist and she told me my chances of getting pregnant without medical help is about 0.05%. I was devastated, and decided to discontinue my contraceptive medication.  We weren’t planning children right away, but it seemed senseless to use if I am not really able to get pregnant.

I got pregnant 3 weeks after stopping the contraceptive.

I was so overjoyed and in awe of this amazing miracle. I had a very tough pregnancy and had morning day and night sickness for the full nine months. I had almost every possible ‘side effect’ of pregnancy and lost 10kg during my pregnancy. My baby boy, Helgard [HG] was born a healthy 4.52kg through normal delivery (I believed in doing things as natural as possible). One of my friends had her baby 1 week before my son was born. Her baby died when she was 3 months old. She had Edwards syndrome. This friend is still struggling severely. And not knowing this would change my view of things.

When my son was about 10 months old, we decided to get pregnant again, and again it happened so quickly. This time I got so sick right from the start, and it was really bad. We went for the first scan at about 9 weeks and everything looked pretty normal, but I was REALLY sick. By the time we went for the 12 week scan, I was hospitalized 3 times for dehydration because of the severe morning sickness.  When we looked at the baby on the sonogram we could see something was very wrong.

This ended up in weeks and weeks of testing and worry and uncertainty. We were so devastated. This was (I thought at that time) the worst thing that could happen to anyone. By the time I was 21 weeks, the tests could not diagnose anything specific, but we could see with every scan how the baby was deteriorating. We went to see a fetal specialist and were told our baby was suffering from advanced heart failure. His lungs, kidneys and liver were much too small and his limbs were under developed. The specialist told us that heart failure this severe was not very common in a baby this size. She also informed me that there was no life expectancy for this child and that he would probably not survive another 2 weeks inside the womb. By this time I have lost 12kg and have been hospitalized 6 times. I have been prodded and poked by needles and emotionally I was dead. Because of the risk on my own life, we decided to end the pregnancy. Terminate. Abort.

This was horrific. I wanted this baby so bad, but he was so far gone. Through this whole ordeal we kept praying and believing in a miracle… but despite people telling us that ‘if we just believe and pray and keep faith, he will be fine’ he was not. I believe that God can do ANYTHING. But I also believe that just because He can, it doesn’t mean that He will. God has His plans and His timing. And sometimes people get sick and die. And my baby was sick and dying.

I cannot begin to describe the devastation of holding your lifeless baby in your arms. We could see by the severe swelling and malformation that he was never meant for this life. We had a post mortem done, and he was diagnosed with a rare genetic mutated disease. There is no baby born alive with this disease. Although this was difficult we made peace with it and tried to move on.

We still desperately wanted another child. I really put everything in front of the Father and told him that I don’t think I can face something like this again. So I prayed feverishly for a healthy baby and a healthy pregnancy.

I had so much faith. And I believed everything would be fine.

About 5 months later I was pregnant again. We were so overjoyed, especially in light of our loss. But again, despite my belief that things will be easier, I was very sick. I made the hospital my home every second week. At the 12 week scan everything looked fine, and I was so relieved that I cried. But this relief turned into the worst devastation I could ever imagined when we went for the 20 week scan and found out that this baby (we named him Christian) had severe spina bifida . We went to see a specialist again. And the prognosis was horrible. Although there was life expectancy, everything else was really bad. They also told us to go for more tests because it was very likely that there were other illnesses as well.

I felt like I had died. I could not believe that this was happening. AGAIN. My heart felt like it was ripped out of my chest and into a million pieces.

I believed. I prayed. I fasted. And still this was happening.

We had to go through the process of deciding on this baby’s life. Again.

I still don’t know if we did the right thing. But we ended the pregnancy. I held my broken and hurt baby until he went cold. I have cried a river of tears and find it so difficult to be happy for my friends that had normal and healthy babies. There are no words to describe this loss and the agony of our decision to anyone. I don’t think anything else in life I will face or have to decide on, will be this difficult. A part of me died that day. And I will mourn for the rest of my life.

We have been judged on our decision, without compassion. And although I am sure that this might be a struggle for the rest of my life, I still have hope. I know I am loved by our Father. And I know my babies are with Him and they are not hurting and suffering. I am the one suffering. Most of the time I feel that I made the right decision, but I question myself constantly.

My faith has been tested in ways that I would never have dreamed possible, but I still have faith and I know that my Father held me through this whole thing. And I picture Him crying with me. I don’t understand why any of this has happened, and doubt that I ever will in this lifetime. But I know I have a deeper understanding of God the Father, and I know I am close to His heart.

 

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I read the post from the friend of yours who is still in so much pain over losing her baby and it made me feel so much less alone. She puts into words so much of how i’m feeling. Words that I haven’t had for the last 7 months.

I had an abortion. I never thought those words would apply to me. But they do. I desperately wanted my baby. But the doctors told me he would never live. Non-viable. Not compatible with life. Such ugly words.

I was so sick while I was pregnant. My hormones took over and I was also miserable and depressed. I even said at one point “I’ve changed my mind”. I didnt mean it, but oh how I wish I never thought it! I wanted my baby. Then the doctor said everything wasnt ok. He was querying downs syndrome and spina bifida. And sent us into a spiral of turmoil and despair. One of my early reactions was “I want it out”. We prayed and prayed for a miracle, for guidance. My gynae mentioned termination and we just didnt know. Do Christian people do this? Could we? But could we cope with a disabled child? We were so afraid. For 5 days (the longest five days of our lives) we prayed. We asked for clear answers, for guidance, for a miracle. We prayed that we wouldnt have to make the decision. Then we went to see the specialist who said that our baby would die. Probably not make it to term, and definitely wouldnt live more than an hour or two if he was born. She said it was so bad that she would terminate the pregnancy up until the day before i gave birth. She said that she was a Christian and she would still do it. We went to our church and the minister said the same thing. That he and his wife had suffered through a number of miscarriages and he would still terminate the pregnancy in our situation. We thought we had our answers. There was no possibilty of any kind of life. We didnt want our baby to suffer in utero for as long as he may live. We were afraid to continue with a pregnancy, just waiting for our baby to die. So we decided to end it. We went to counselling at church the night before the procedure and i left there with peace.

I was terrified on the day. They gave me tablets to start the process, and pethidine and i spent the day floating. When the doctor came to see me, I was in so much pain, and I just wanted to get it done. I drifted into the anaesthetic, thinking when i woke up, this nightmare would be over. Then I woke up and it wasnt. My baby was gone. I wasnt pregnant anymore. I had gotten rid of this life that I never appreciated enough. I only realised how much i had loved that baby now that it was gone. I woke up a mother. And racked with guilt for every moment of not being grateful enought to be pregnant. Filled with regret for spending the morning wishing it was over with, rather than cherishing my last moments with my baby inside me. For panicking and not waiting a little bit longer to make the decision. I just felt like I had killed my baby.

Its been 7 months and I still dont know what to do with it. I didnt decide my baby would never live. God did. But I did end his life. I know that I prayed. I prayed that God would stop us from terminating if He didnt want us to. Instead, all sources seemed to point to it. Is it ok with Him that we did what we did? Or did we fail some major test? Can I just be allowed to deal with my grief, or should i be dealing with guilt as well? I didnt trust God anymore. I was so angry with Him, with everyone. With everything. I was suicidal. My heart and my faith were shattered. Still are. I am able to function more normally now, but its like there are two of me. the one is logical and dispassionate and says we did the right thing, the merciful thing. Our baby’s heart was beating, but we had lost him nonetheless. The other half of me is just bleeding, and screaming with pain. Did God lead us to do what we did or did I just kill my baby? And regardless of how our baby was lost, he is still gone.

What your friend writes about how people are, and how she feels in church and how much it breaks you inside to have people make their pregnancy announcements around you – all these things are real to me too. At first I couldnt function at all. I would go to work and sit there, waiting for the day to end. I couldnt focus. I would write in my journal, telling God how I couldnt go on. I would go home and just want to be dead. I’ve moved forwards from there now. I was given new projects at work and had no choice but to focus. So I fuction again. But it is still dark. Some days are better, and I tiptoe through them, hanging on to a tenous thread of sanity, not looking around me for fear of something setting off the darkness again. I feel like i am lost in a dark cave. I dont know the way out, and I’m stumbling around bashing up against things and hurting myself. Sometimes I see a glimmer of light in the distance and I follow it for a while then i trip over a rock and get disorientated and its dark again. I dont know how to fix it, i dont know how to come out of it. I’m just praying that my dark days will continue to lessen.

People want to help. My mother sent me scriptures – about how God took Davids baby away as punishment (ok?!). One idealistic soul apologised (6 weeks after the fact) for not making sure i did the right thing (I’m so pleased she knows what that was becasue I still dont), another told me all about the many babies that she lost – again with the best of intentions (ok, she has 2 perfect children now, but i cant contemplate the thought of having to survive this again and again. She’s on the other side of it now. Will I ever get there?) And the one who told me she thought she was pregnant and considered aborting the baby cos they were done with having children (i guess she was trying to tell me she doesnt judge me, which i appreciated, but otherwise, it didnt help!). And my husband. Who decided on “tough love”, refusing to do housework in order to force me to function (we’re still debating on the helpfulness of that one). My husband didnt feel as shattered as I did. He feels we were given a clear answer and he feels that he protected me from having to carry our child even longer, while waiting for him to die. His mom got very sick soon afterwards and so he had more real things (for him anyway) to focus on and I felt so alone. Some unlikely people did help me though. While some were saying things like “you’ll understand when you are mom” (who may acknowledge my pain, but not that i am every bit as much of a parent as they are. I am a mother and i have had to make a much more difficult decision for my child than they have ever had to make for theirs!), other people understood how torn up i was, understood that I am now a mother and it is these people who helped me stand again: My gynae’s wife who visited me in hospital and hugged me while I cried, my GP who supported me when I went to his office and burst into tears, giving me tablets for the short term and making sure I was in counselling for the longer term, the woman who pulled me aside at a breakfast and took me away to cry while she held me and prayed for me and my baby, the woman who said to me “You didn’t kill your baby”, the woman who took the time to find and send me a poem that someone who went through a similar experience wrote – on exactly a day that I needed it most, and my husband’s assistant who phoned me on mother’s day to wish me happy mother’s day – not an easy call to make, but appreciated more than he will ever know.

So now I’m standing again (or at least trying to). I’m still looking for God again, I’m looking for answers, I’m looking for a way forward. I thought I heard God, but everything I thought I heard turned out to be wrong, so maybe the abortion was too. But I get stuck there, because the alternative is equally unthinkable and I dont know that I wouldnt do the same thing in the same situation again. I dont know that I would either (or how I even could), and I just wish I had the answers. I wish I had peace.

I dont. What I do have is pain and a new empathy for people who decide to have an abortion. The terror, for whatever reason, of not being able to handle whats coming, and how it can seem to be the best solution. I wish I could say it is… I dont know. What I have learnt is not to judge others. Ive learned that some days it feels like I’m too broken to breathe, but somehow I do. And I do still belive in God. That all things are working for my good. I dont understand how, I dont understand Him, and it doesnt make it better, but I am trying to hang onto that fact. That His was are higher than mine, His thoughts are higher than mine. The last couple of weeks, I have been hearing again and again that I should be praising Him through everything. I’ve also been surrounded by pregnancy. One morning I listened to a talk on praising God through pain, then later walked past an old friend in the shops who was heavily pregnant. God, in His mercy, didnt have her stop and speak to me, but i nearly vomited right there in the shops anyway. It hurt so much. But i went home and sang. I sang on the way to the car, all the way home and for the next 45 minutes as I unpacked and cooked dinner. I sang (and cried) to God every song that popped into my head, and slowly some measure of peace descended.

I pray that I will find complete peace at some point. And some kind of answer as to the ethics of what we did. I’m praying that we will have healthy children in future and that I will remember that God is God. He is almighty and my days are in His hands. “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” 2 Chronicles 20:12.

And one day, I pray that I’ll get it.

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