This is a post I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. I’ve never talked about why or how David and I came to the decision to keep Brielle and not abort her. And I’m not going to stand here and say that it was an immediate decision. Or that we both just knew for sure. I’m not going to tell you it was because of our faith, because it wasn’t. And I’m not going to tell you it was an easy decision.
We were told two options. The first option was presented very plainly, we could schedule a date, and we would come in to the hospital. Dr. B would inject potassium into Brielle’s heart. She would die and then labor would be induced. I could hold her, kiss her, tell her I love her. And in a short time, we could try again for another baby.
Our second option was that we could carry her to term. Dr. B let us know that this would not be easy. He warned us of the burden that it would be and how it would feel to have strangers excitedly ask us about our baby. He told us she would be offered comfort care once she was born and that she could be stillborn, live a few minutes or hours, or even live as long as a month. Dr. B left us in his office and we pulled ourselves together, nearly ran out of the hospital, and cried the whole way home.
We talked about the first two options. The first seemed practical and I had no idea how I felt about either, because I was too numb. I had just really started to feel Brielle move and I wondered, “Is it real? Is everything just a reflex? How can she be capable of anything if she doesn’t have a brain?”
David and I digested everything for a few hours after we came home. We talked about what she would look like at twenty weeks and we looked at pictures of babies at twenty weeks and anencephaly babies. We talked about how quickly we’d want to try again. We mapped out the next ten years of our lives taking option number one. And as we talked I stared at a bloody twenty week baby that had been aborted the way we were talking about. I think it was then that I knew. I knew out of this whole experience that I wanted two things. I wanted to hold my baby alive and I wanted to tell her I loved her. If she was dead, I couldn’t do either.
And then I thought about who I’d be in ten years, twenty years, thirty years. And I thought about our little girl. And I knew that I could not live with myself if I had killed my child. No matter how I looked at it, that was the decision we were making. How did I want my daughter to die? And what of our other children? Would we tell them about her? And if we did, would they wonder, if they had something wrong with them in utero or even in the future, would we still want them? Would we still love them? Of course we would, but would they believe it when we said it? The ramifications for terminating Brielle quickly began to build. We weren’t talking about just her life, but our lives, our children’s lives. And what if there was something wrong with our next child, where do we draw the line? Whose life is more valuable? How do I choose between my children? It became clear that I could live my life for myself, doing what was easiest, or I could be this baby’s mother and love her more than myself. Who did I want to be? I looked at David and I said, “I can’t kill her. I can’t do it.” David nodded, “Okay.”
We didn’t know how we were going to make it through the next twenty weeks. We still don’t know how we’re going to live through this. But within a couple of days we had decided that we would love Brielle. Just love her. We’d take her on adventures, we’d show her as much as possible, and we’d give her everything we have. We choose to live our lives without regret. And that is how we make our decisions now. “I’m too tired for the petting zoo. Will I regret not taking her to the petting zoo? Will I regret not making that memory with her? Yes, yes I will.”
And so we push through. When my ankles are swollen, and I’m having round ligament pain, and I’m utterly exhausted, I push through. When David is sweating bullets, miserable in the Georgia heat, and past the point of exhaustion, he pushes through. Who are we to complain? We have been more than blessed with a beautiful sweet little girl, who loves her Mommy and Daddy. Who can’t stop wiggling her little butt. Who is stubborn as a mule. Who has a strange love for heavy metal and Christian music. And who is loved more than anything.
Life isn’t fair, it isn’t easy, and it’s not always fun. We don’t get to choose when we die and there are no guarantees in life. All we can do is live our lives with the best possible attitude and love those around us. And that’s all that matters. Everything else washes away in time. Some people say David and I are brave for doing this. To us it just feels like living, sometimes surviving. While this will be some of the deepest pain we will ever have to endure, this has also been one of the brightest times in our lives. She’s our ray of sunshine, our little angel, and I wouldn’t trade one minute of my pain or suffering for her beautiful life. We are going to hurt for the rest of our lives, but that pain comes from missing someone that we loved deeply. If we had the choice, we’d do it all over again. Her love is all we ever wanted and all we ever needed and it’s enough, it’s enough to make all of our pain worth it.