Submitted by: Kara
I never thought I would ever get an abortion. I made it almost 37 years without one, but 7 weeks ago I had a surgical D&E at 16 weeks.
I wanted the doctors to be wrong more than I’ve ever wanted anything. My baby girl was already my baby girl, even though she wasn’t born yet. She’s always going to be my baby girl. I had already seen her beautiful 12 week ultrasound. I could tell by her bone structure and her profile that she looked just like her living brother. The same round cheeks and jaw, the same cute little upturned nose. I was totally in love already.
We had our 12-week scan late, and then the NIPT results came in even later. My medical provider is a “no news means good news” establishment so when I didn’t hear back on the NIPT test results, I figured we were all clear. I went ahead and announced my pregnancy. A week later I got the call. She had Edwards Syndrome. We scheduled another test, a CVS, and hoped it was a false positive. At the CVS my doctor said she looked perfect on the ultrasound. He didn’t see anything wrong with her. A week later however, we got the lab results, and she was positive for Trisomy 18.
The genetic counselor could not give me any remotely positive outlook on the diagnoses. It’s a big unknown as to how each individual will be affected by the trisomy. Her chances at even living in any capacity were terrible, that’s all they could tell me. She would probably die before she was born. If she made it to birth, she probably wouldn’t live a day. If she lived a day, she probably wouldn’t live a week. If she lived a month that would be a success, and if she lived to be 5 years that would be a miracle. Even if she lived her short life, the overwhelming likelihood would be that she would starve to death or suffocate slowly as her body gave out. That was my understanding of her prognosis.
So, I had just celebrated the end of the second trimester, and finally not puking so much every day, and announcing my pregnancy. All of a sudden I was having to decide if I would kill my baby, or wait it out and watch while she eventually died slowly. I realize that’s not pleasant to read, but that was and is how I feel about it. In one scenario I would end her life with hope that she hadn’t fully developed the brain synapses to realize she was experiencing pain or fear, and hopefully end it quickly. In the other, she would die fast or slow while her mother, father and brother had their hearts torn out and broken over and over, and there was no way to know how painful or fearful, or trapped she would feel in a body that didn’t work right.
I might come back to this later and feel I’m being melodramatic. I don’t know. I feel so fucked up about this abortion. I read all the details of the procedure and looked at pictures of what happens, and watched every YouTube of positive Trisomy 18 stories, and I still decided this was the kindest thing I could do for my baby who I loved and wanted more than anything. I couldn’t bear going into it not knowing full well what I was doing to my child.
I truly feel [hope?] I chose the one that caused her the least pain. But I’m pretty sure I did get one thing wrong. I think having the abortion caused me more pain than I would’ve felt birthing her and watching her even if just for an hour.
The abortion itself was straightforward. It wasn’t really painful. I got some meds to take for a couple days after. I stayed up all night talking to her. I tried to talk to her and comfort her until they put me under. They gave me her footprints and I am so beyond grateful to have them. I think they’re the most important thing I own.
I think about her a lot of the day, every day.
I’m functioning more or less normal in life. Only my husband and my online support group have any idea I’m sad. But oh man, I am sad. I am so sad.
Having a lot of guilt, but also I do realize this decision made sense. However I don’t know that I would ever do this again. If I get pregnant and my baby is totally fucked up and missing everything, I think I will still birth that baby. If I could build a time machine and go back, I would absolutely not have an abortion.
Thank you Kara for echoing everything that’s been on my heart the last few weeks.
Kara: Thank you so much for your heartfelt honesty. We have received a very similar diagnosis and we so appreciate hearing your story as we struggle to make our own decision. Sending you so much love and peace.