I think what most people say to me is that I am strong, “The strongest person they know.” And I don’t understand this. I don’t feel exceptionally strong. I feel quite average.
I feel like my “strength” is easily explained. I’m strong because I have no choice. We all face difficult times as we raise our children, each person has a different circumstance that calls them to do what they have to for their baby (no matter how old). My challenge didn’t happen in Brielle’s teens. It didn’t happen as a child. As an adult after a crisis. My time to step up as a parent and mother happened in Brielle’s earliest days. And maybe this is what people find admirable. But really, it is no different.
Brielle needed me to love her. She needed me to protect her and give her the best life she could have. What else was I to do? I could have aborted her, but would you abort your teenage daughter struggling with depression? Your child recently diagnosed with autism? Your grown son who was just diagnosed with cancer? No, you wouldn’t. You may get frustrated. You may not know what to do, but you would do your best for your baby. All I did was the best I could for Brielle. And so I don’t feel exceptionally strong, I just feel like a mother. A mother that was faced with difficult circumstances. And I did my job. I did my best.
Maybe it was that I had the choice. I could have aborted Brielle. Maybe not taking the option is what people find so amazing. As if it was an out, an easy solution to a horrific tragedy. But it’s not an out. It’s not any easier. There’s an entire support group filled with bitter mothers who aborted their babies with anencephaly, hoping it would be an easy out, only to find it wasn’t. There’s no taking back an abortion. There’s nothing you can tell yourself to fill that void. The void of regret.
I am future oriented. What I mean by that, is that I spend most of my time in the future. I plan, think, and dream of tomorrow and the days to come. And I know myself very well. I knew who I would be if I aborted Brielle. The draw of a new healthy baby a few months after Brielle was aborted was appealing. But looking down that road I knew it would tear me to pieces. I’d destroy myself with regret and agony. I would live a life violating my conscious with no way to correct the hole in my heart.
I’m not here to start an anti abortion campaign. That’s too political and I don’t want to mar Brielle’s legacy with politics. But I do want people to understand that I did take the easy out. I knew which of the two options would be the most difficult to live with and I chose the easiest one. I chose to love Brielle. And it wasn’t hard. It’s not hard. I miss Brielle so much. But I get to miss her. I have memories of her. I met her, held her, told her I loved her. None of those things are hard. They don’t require strength. They just require a heart and we all have one of those.
When I go to bed at night, I’ll hold Brielle, sob through “I’ll Love you Forever,” tell her goodnight and go to sleep. And I sleep peacefully. I ache. But my dreams aren’t sad. I am not haunted by worry. By the fear that I made a mistake. By guilt over a new pregnancy that I chose to replace the anencephalic baby I had.
If I had chosen the “easy” option everyone thinks abortion is, I would spend the rest of my life filled with a horrific ache. And a guilt that no one could imagine. I would never have forgiven myself. That kind of pain requires super human strength. And it is not something I am strong enough to endure. I am in awe of those that carry on, silently grieving their loss. A loss that they cannot speak to anyone about. A loss that haunts them. The mother’s who chose the path that I did not deserve our love, support, mercy, and encouragement. They carry a burden that is unimaginable.