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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The abortion debate

I've heard many comments over the past six weeks, but the one that sticks out in my head is "I know what I would do in your situation." I want to look at them and say, "Really? You think so? Because I don't honestly believe you do."

No one knows what they will do in this situation until they have to go through it. I always said I would terminate a pregnancy if we were given a diagnosis that was incompatible with life. I was firm in that stance, too. I said I wouldn't terminate if it was just Down's Syndrome or spina bifida, but I now know those can be incompatible with life. However, when I first heard that Jenna was sick with Trisomy 18, all kinds of thoughts ran through my mind.

My first was that I couldn't terminate even though Brian and I had decided that we would if she had Trisomy 18. She was my baby. I was here to give her life, not take it away. It was funny that I felt that way because I had always been pro-choice. Not necessarily pro-abortion, I just believed abortion was a decision a woman has to make on her own with her doctor, not something to be decided by politicians. But, even though I always felt that way, I didn't think I could do it at first. Jenna was very much wanted, so how could I do away with a baby I had tried so long to have?

I then thought of the problems she would have if she survived birth. Babies with Trisomy 18 have problems with their heart, kidneys, brain and other major organs. She would be severely mentally handicapped. Most likely, she would suffer.

I was her mother. I loved her. One of greatest jobs as a mother is to keep our children safe, healthy and free of pain. By continuing the pregnancy and taking the chance of her being born alive, I risked filling her life with pain and suffering. I will say it again. I was her mother. I loved her, and I couldn't do that to her.

I think even those who are pro-life would have to take those things into consideration. I don't think they would automatically know they wouldn't terminate, or at least, I would hope they would think about their child suffering before making that decision.

So, as anyone who reads this knows, I didn't get to terminate. I carried Jenna until her heart gave out, and she just couldn't try anymore. In some ways, I'm glad I wasn't able to end the pregnancy because I didn't have to make the choice of ending her life. But, on the other hand, I had to see her birth defects, which only proved to me she would have suffered terribly during delivery if she had been alive. Also, because of those defects, the birthing process was very unkind to her body, leading to deformities no mother should ever have to see.

So, when you hear of a family who has gotten a fatal diagnosis for their unborn child, please don't say you know what you would do. Until you walk a little while in their shoes, you can't know.


Jamie said...

That's terribly sad. I'm so sorry for your family and for Jenna.

You've been so candid and you've done a service by letting us see some of your thoughts. That's amazingly generous of you at a time like this.

Take care.

Catherine L. Tully said...

Wow. You are very courageous and I admire what you did. Truly.

The Adventures of Jing & Ying said...

Hi Tamara,

I think of you and Jenna and your family often. No one deserves to lose a child. Losing my daugher was the most difficult experience I've had. Just remember, Jenna did not suffer. All she knew was the love that you, "B" and "T" had for her.

I honestly don't understand why some people lose their babies. When I lost my daughter, I had also lost faith in God. The pastor's wife visited and tried to explain why Chloe died but I didn't want to hear any of it (5 years later and I still feel the same way). The truth is, we may never know why we lose our babies. All we can do is to remember our little girls and to keep living life. Each day will be a struggle for awhile, but I promise you it does get easier (5 years ago I never would have thought so).

Big Hugs, and know that you were the best mommy in the world to your sweet Jenna,

Erica (from ttc)

Anonymous said...

hugs sweetie, in my thoughts and prayers.

Grace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grace said...

You are absolutely right about that. And I always feel that pro-choice is the only way to go because it means that a mother has a choice, even though she doesn't have to exercise it.
Without that choice, this country is no where better than China, which is famous for its one-child policy.
I believe religion plays no role in non-believers' right to choose. Period.