Strength

Strongest

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.

Brielle’s Spirituality

I watched this earlier and as I was watching it I felt Brielle start to move. The longer I watched the more she moved. And once the clip ended? She stopped moving. Brielle does things like this all the time, things that make me wonder just how much she understands. For instance, every time we pray she starts moving. When we’re at church she dances during the music. No matter what kind of music it is. We can be in a church that is all acapella and incredibly quiet. We can be in a church filled with thousands which a choir and orchestra, people singing out loudly and boldly for the Lord, and she dances.

During a sermon a few weeks ago, the preacher stated, “Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through him.” She jumped. She jumped so suddenly she knocked the breath right out of me. I don’t have an explanation for these things. And quite frankly, I don’t need one and I don’t think there ever will be one. But these things make me wonder. I wonder if she has her own faith, her own opinions and feelings about God. And it makes me ponder on this quote: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” While I’ve always thought this to be true, I never once thought of it through the eyes of a baby. Through the eyes of my daughter. And I really don’t think there is anything quite as beautiful as pure innocence celebrating God.

Why We Chose Not to Abort Brielle

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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.

Is Abortion Murder?

I used to attend the Village Church when I lived in Denton. Matt makes an excellent argument here on the realities of abortion. I really don’t think I could say it better myself. I’m posting the whole article, but the video clip is really the best part. Everything he says is spot on and I think he makes an excellent point, that the majority of the one million abortions that happen every year are not due to rape or the mother’s life being in danger, but based on the baby being an inconvenience.

The clip is really worth your time.

P.S. When transferring this post over to the blog I just attached the video clip, not the whole article.