Submitted by: Kara
I posted on May 22, 2020 about my 16 week abortion for Trisomy18 diagnosis. This is my update. It’s not a positive or easy one if you’re having abortion trauma and seeking reassurance. Skip it if you don’t want to read about regrets.
My daughter had Trisomy18 and I aborted her at 16 weeks. I was convinced it was the right choice — a mercy killing to save her from pain.
I still think about my baby girl every day, all the time. As this year has passed, I know I made the wrong choice, and that my life would have been better for every single day she would have existed, in utero or outside. No matter how much life we would’ve lived in the hospital, or long nights worrying for her, my life would’ve been better.
We don’t discuss her too much, except to acknowledge important days. We don’t talk about her in front of my son, who is now 2 yrs and 8 months old. Tried to save him from the sadness. But he is an amazingly bright little boy. I don’t know how he’s so smart and talkative and capable, but he is. He remembers everything as far back as 7 months old.
A few weeks ago we were in the car and he said to me “Mama, we love our girl, right?”
And I asked what girl. He said “Our girl, our baby girl. She’s gone though, but we still love her.”
We talked some more. We’re not a religious family, but he apparently had told a 4 year old friend about how his baby sister is dead, and his friend told him that she’s in heaven now. My son asked me if she was in heaven, and I told him I hope she is, but no matter where she is, I think someday we get to see her again. That made him very happy.
That conversation confirmed for me that I had made the wrong choice. Trying to save him from the heartbreak of having a broken little sister was a big factor in deciding to abort her. But he could’ve handled it. We all could’ve handled it, and she would’ve brought more love into our lives, even if we lost her fast or slow.
My niece is 10. She has severe muscular dystrophy. Her life requires constant 24/7 care. I thought about that a lot when I made my decision. If my daughter lived and kept on living successfully with her condition, it would’ve transformed our lives from our carefree outdoors adventure-based lifestyle into a life of hospitals and medical equipment. Just like my brother and his wife for the last 10 years. I was so scared of that and I couldn’t admit it.
I talked to my brother a few months ago. I’ve never directly asked him what life is like with a severely handicapped child, and when I asked he just lit up. He couldn’t describe the sheer joy his daughter brings him. She is not verbal, lives in a motor-chair and has required numerous risky surgeries just to keep breathing. But he talks about how much fun they have, how she’s his best friend and his sidekick, and how he wishes she would live forever. He said he wishes everyone in the world could have his experience.
I can see how he feels that way. I think now I would’ve felt the exact same, and I’m ashamed that I couldn’t commit to changing my life around, possibly spending many years with a malformed little human who relied on me for everything. But I can unequivocally say, I would have been there for it, with bells on. I would give anything to be the mother of a broken little girl. I would take such good care of her, and her brother and her father would love her, and we would change our habits and routines to make space for her. We would’ve found a new kind of joy in our lives.
I can’t describe how strongly I regret my choice. I look back, and I was worried about the disruption to my immediate family, my extended family, my work, our recreation, my relationship. No one else wanted me to have that baby. No one around expressed any support whatsoever for NOT aborting her. The doctors and genetic counselor weren’t pushy, but no one said: “Ok so she has this condition, and here’s what the start of her life will look like,” or “This will be a big change, but here’s resources on what you can do.” What I got instead was: “Of course, it’s your choice to make, BUT…”
If I had decided to have her, I would have disappointed (even angered) everyone around me. My parents would’ve felt ashamed to have a grandchild with birth defects. People would secretly think less of me, that I somehow deserved it. All of those thoughts might be my own invention, but that’s how I felt then and I know it now. It took me a while to admit it to myself. I couldn’t stand the fluffy language of support groups. Everyone telling each other what strong mothers they are. I failed as her mother and her advocate. She had a right to live. Her diagnoses wasn’t necessarily fatal. Due to my strong feelings on this, I have been kicked out of the 2 major online support groups for medically-induced abortions.
I am not trying to push my feelings onto others about their choices. I don’t know that others SHOULD feel this way, or that I SHOULD feel this way. This is just the way I feel and what I have learned.
Regardless of all of that, I am not beating myself up with shame everyday. Life has gone on. We’re trying to live it happy, taking absolutely nothing for granted, and I feel like it’s the only thing I can do to honor her memory. But my regret will be there in the background, probably forever.
I have found absolutely no one in my life that I can talk to openly about this. Sometimes I just bring it up at random, or not-so-random, and talk about this part of my life, but what is someone supposed to do with that kind of talk? They give empty platitudes, or silence, or say something nice. I appreciate it all, and respect what a difficult subject it is.
I guess that’s why I wanted to come back here and post this update. Just saying it somewhere, to someone in the world.
Thanks for reading. I’m so sorry to every one of you who has the misfortune of also having to search out this website, and I wish you the best.