*Trigger warning for mother/fathers who have experienced fetal loss.*
I originally wrote this as a comment in fiver's diary, "NE Woman denied abortion, forced to watch baby die". I have been a member of Daily Kos for 5 years but have never written a diary prior to this. However, a few commenters in fiver's diary mentioned that more stories such as Danielle Deaver's need to be told.
I'm sharing this because I loved and wanted my baby, but I wanted to end my pregnancy early and was denied that. I share this with you so that you'll know that sometimes elective abortion-- or "early delivery" as many mothers in my situation refer to it-- isn't about ending an unwanted pregnancy or saving a mother's life. Sometimes it's about being humane and saving a child from needless suffering.
While you read this please keep in mind that this story is a very personal one. The child in the story was my son and he's gone now. This is the other side of the abortion coin. The one they're happy to deny mothers-- the choice of how to say "good-bye" to our doomed children.
When I was 17 weeks pregnant with my son, I found out he was afflicted with Potter's Syndrome-- a condition I learned was "incompatible with life". There was no way that he would survive outside the womb because he wasn't producing amniotic fluid.
Amniotic fluid is magical-- babies swallow it, urinate it and float in it. It inflates their stomachs, bowel, bladder and, most importantly, lungs. With no amniotic fluid his lungs could not mature ever.
It does something else, though. It provide a cushion between mother and baby. As the baby moves around the amniotic fluid prevents the child from being crushed and prevents injury to the mother's uterus from the constant contact.
So, I learned that as my baby grew, he would be crushed by my own body. I knew he would suffer. I asked my doctor to perform an early delivery. I wanted to birth him and give him a burial. I wanted to be able to hold him and mother him for whatever time I could. But I didn't want him to suffer. Imagine being cramped inside a box, your shoulders and hips dislocating as the box became smaller, your limbs bruising from every single movement. This was his life inside of me.
The doctor, his nurses and the hospital nursing staff refused to help me. This doctor actually had his wife talk to my mother-in-law to convince me to go to Akron to have a D&E. If I did that I wouldn't be able to bury him or, more importantly, hold him. I just asked that they induce labor so I could birth him. No. The only hospital I could find to help me was 85 miles away and there was no way for me to go there.
So, I carried him until I was 33 weeks. As he grew, I felt like the inside of my uterus was being rubbed raw. I was in an incredible amount of pain from his every movement-- I can only imagine what he was enduring. Every single day I knew my child, who I wanted more than anything in the world, was only experiencing pain. That was all he knew or would ever know, until he was born and his suffering would stop because I wouldn't be able to keep him alive anymore.
I refused heroic measures to keep him alive longer when he was born. When I went into labor, he was transverse breech; his little elbow was coming out first. My doctor refused to answer his page and the doctor on call delivered my baby via C-section. That doctor made sure to express his disgust with me for deciding to forgo measures that would prolong my child's suffering. But I wanted him to be with us when he died, not on a helicopter to Akron with strangers working fruitlessly on his little body.
When he was born, his little body was covered with bruises. His head was misshapen. His ears hung down to his shoulders because there was no fluid to float them up to their proper place. His shoulders and hips were dislocated. At birth my son looked like someone had beaten him.
[Note: There are many images on Google that show what a Potter's baby looks like after birth. I have my own photos, but have chosen not to share them here.]
He died 36 minutes later as his father was carrying him to my recovery room. I never got to hold him while he was alive.
My choice of how I wanted to say good-bye to my son and how I wanted to grieve for him was taken away from me. They thought it was inhumane of me to want to end my pregnancy before he was big enough to be crushed by my body. They thought I didn't care about him and that I didn't love him. So they forced me to carry him until I went into labor naturally-- for weeks experiencing the heartache of knowing he was in pain and that he was going to die.
But they couldn't make the choice to prolong his suffering after he was born. They couldn't continue to torture him for nothing after he was outside of my body. So, I went to their hospital and let them watch my family and me grieve for that baby. That little boy who felt nothing but pain for the entirety of his existence.
It will be 8 years in July since he died, but as I write this my heart continues to break with the memory. The memories of the continued torture that the child they purported to want to protect and the helplessness I felt because I couldn't protect him have caused me more heartache than the moment I realized he was indeed dead. They caused that. They did that to me and to my family. And they did that to Danielle and her family. Why? Because their God said so? Their God wanted my son to die. And he did. But before he died his little body experienced nothing but pain.
That is how they love and protect children. That is it in a nutshell.
Now, someone is going to come in here and tell me that I shouldn't refer to my son as a "baby" or a "child". They're going to chastise me and beat me over the head to call him "fetus". To those that would do that to me after I tell the story of my greatest pain, I say
fuck off please don't bother. I won't be paying attention. This is a situation where the message is about the pain of mother and child. They need to know that they hurt us, they need to know that in their zeal to control out uteri they are hurting our children-- even the ones who haven't been born yet.
My son's name was Gabriel Michael and he was wanted and loved.
If you've had a similar experience to mine or Danielle's, please share. Those that would stick their laws into our uteri need to know that they aren't blessing these children with a few minutes of love from their parents. They are sentencing children like my Gabriel to a short lifetime of unmentionable pain.
Updated by gratis4 at Tue Mar 8, 2011, 09:36:03 PM
I guess this is the part where I say thanks for the rec list, but I don't want to do that.
Instead, I want to thank everyone for reading my story and for offering their support. And I especially want to thank the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and friends who shared their own stories in the comments. They've shared the pain of making the decision to deliver early because of medical reasons-- whether to end the suffering of the children or to save their own lives. Making that decision is something I can't adequately explain except to say the pain is all encompassing. Please take a moment to read their stories too.
I also want to thank those that have shared other losses, such as the trauma of an unforeseen complication or making end of life decisions for a dying spouse. There are choices involved with those stories that can be and have been the target of the Fanatical Right. We must protect all of our rights to make these decisions for ourselves.
My doctor and the medical staff at the hospital where I delivered took away my choice to end my son's suffering. But the end result was still the same. Another hospital staff has taken away Danielle Deaver's right with exactly the same result. These people don't care about children and they don't care about families. Please feel free to use my story as just another example of their hypocrisy.
Again, thank you. The support this community has shown me is absolutely amazing.