I was 29. I always wanted to be a mom. I had done everything “right.”
I had graduated college, enjoyed the single life while establishing a great career, met a wonderful man who became my husband, and then enjoyed a few years of D.I.N.K. life while saving money. We were ready to have a child.
I had always been vehemently pro-choice. However, I always assumed that when it came to me, and if I ever became pregnant and it was my choice, under no circumstance would I make “that choice.” Not if I was young, not if I was single, not if I was broke, no way. I had always wanted to be a mom, and if fate said it was my time… it was my time.
I had even considered if my child had some type of disabling condition. After-all, I have a cousin with spina bifida who could not walk. I had volunteered with Special Olympics, and even watched a girl with Turner’s syndrome for several summers. I am a patient person… the perfect person to be someone’s mom, no matter the circumstance.
Then, it happened! We were pregnant and overjoyed and excited. Just as suddenly devastation: complete miscarriage at 9 weeks. My husband and I mourned, but trodded on. To our delight, we quickly conceived a second time. Again, overjoyed, but more apprehensive and less naive this time around, we were very interested in pre-natal testing given our history.
After a routine NT ultrasound which showed some soft markers, I underwent an amniocentesis several weeks later which confirmed the grim diagnosis. Down’s Syndrome.
My husband and I had, surprisingly, had this conversation prior to conceiving, prior to even getting married, but had not reached a consensus. I think we both felt this disagreement was unlikely to ever be faced…it only happens to “other people.” My husband did not want to keep the child.
Over the next several weeks we cried, we mourned the loss of a healthy pregnancy yet again, and I deliberated what I was going to do. There was adoption, but I had worked in child services previously and know what type of predators prey on innocent, helpless children in foster and adoptive homes-definitely not an option.
Ultimately, I decided it would be selfish to keep the baby. Not because my husband didn’t want the baby, (if I had decided to keep the baby, my husband would have stuck around and been a wonderful father—he was under no delusion… it was my choice and he supported me 100%) but because, what would happen to the child if anything happened to us? What if it was born with some of the more severe variations of down-syndrome that no one talks about leading to very poor quality of life? What about all the bullying and hatefulness the child would certainly face? What if the fetus didn’t make it to full term, and I had to face the unbearable outcome of miscarriage again? What if I could become pregnant with a healthier, happier baby instead?
Ultimately, we terminated the pregnancy at 16 weeks. The baby boy was cremated and buried in our yard next to its sibling. I still think of my son often, daily. Undoubtedly, this was the worst experience of my entire life, but it was the better choice for me, my son, my husband… and the (genetically normal) daughter who is currently on her way.
No matter your reason, you have the right to chose. My heart goes out to each of you. You are 1 in 3, but you are so much more than that, and you are not alone. Together we are 100s and 1,000s, and we will fight for each other and our rights to make decisions about our own lives.