14 years ago today my son was born. He weighed in at 1lbs 10oz. Had the sweetest little cheeks and a full head of the blackest hair I’d ever seen…he had ten tiny little fingers and ten tiny little toes… he was also very broken inside… instead of a 4 chamber heart with 4 values, he had a 2 chamber heart with 2 valves and transposed arteries, he had a chromosome defect and likely other internal abnormalities that were yet to be diagnosed…I held him for hours and traced every part of his face with my finger and permanently etched it in my mind… 14 years ago today, my son also passed away…. I was 19 when I got pregnant, a pregnancy and a baby I did not want… But abortion was immoral, wrong and murder…. The thought although at times early in my pregnancy crossed my mind was something I would never do. As my pregnancy progressed I fell in love with this awesome little creature inside me…every doctors appointment I waited for, how soon until I feel a kick?…, see an ultrasound?…., find out if its a boy or girl….I went shopping, I picked names, I planned for our future together…. finally the day came 21 weeks! My first ultrasound I get to find out boy or girl! Yay….who knew it was the day that would change my life, my mind and my opinions…forever. Never having an ultrasound I didn’t really know what to expect…however when in the first 3 minutes the ultrasound tech stops, asks if you brought a support person with you and calls in not only your OB but the other OB in the practice and a nurse in your room…you kinda know something isnt right. They didn’t know what was wrong ….just that my baby’s heart was grossly malformed, that I needed to be sent elsewhere for my prenatal care and that I was having a BOY!… I was having a boy…something about the rest of that appointment lost its value, I was having a boy! I was referred to high risk obstetrics at Doernbechers Childrens hospital @ OHSU. When I called to make my appointment they wanted to see me right away…I think that was really the first time I realized that …’this is serious…this is really serious…”…. but how serious?…its 1999 they can fix everything right? Especially a heart, they even make artificial ones…all was good…. All was not good. I was 21 weeks, visibly pregnant and walked into my first appointment. This appointment was not like the others…the office was different, the office was friendly, the air smelled different and the faces of the people that worked there shined…I know now its the look of understanding, compassion, empathy, love….not the look of “I am a doctor out to make a buck”…but the look of people that truly love their jobs and their patients. The doctor greeted me and introduced herself by her first name. She took me in and with an ultrasound tech did a very in-depth ultrasound. My baby was ill, my baby was very very ill. She explained to me his heart abnormality and showed me in pictures what it meant, explained that when he is born, if he makes it through my pregnancy that he will require at least 3 surgeries in his first year of life, all of which could take his life or leave him more damaged. His first surgery would have to take place immediately after birth, as his heart would not be able to oxygenate his blood…talk about a brick to the forehead. She also explained that these heart abnormalities are not seen in genetically healthy babies…and that my baby most likely had a chromosome defect and that we should do an amniocentesis to find out for sure…she took me into another room and performed the procedure herself. It would take 2 weeks for the results to come back…2 weeks. In the meantime there were more ultrasounds, to check his kidneys, his intestines, his brain…all were normal…the last ultrasound before I got my results however also showed a deformity between his esophagus and trachea, that they may not be entirely separate and require surgery as well….. My doctor called me into her office and once again explained to me what these things mean and then she told me about my options…my options?…’my options’?…what does she mean? I am 23 weeks pregnant, in 17 weeks I am having a baby, a sick baby, but surgery will fix him and all will be good….options? I sat there and listened to what she said…I think that’s when I learned to be stoic… I walked out of her office after it was over and cried…to this day I don’t think I have ever cried so many tears, I don’t think in this lifetime I ever will again….My amnio results should be back any time now…Did she just tell me that I could “kill” my baby?… These were the days before Google, back when we all had to dial-up pay per minute internet…so info was not at my fingertips….but I read everything, everything about hearts and tracheas, about esophagus and chromosome defects, about surgery risks, complications, about living as someone with trisomy 13, 18 or 21, the top three suspected chromosome defect possibilities my son had, about being a parent to a special needs child…. I could totally do this and be an awesome mom. My son would be alright no matter what…my son would be alright. I would love him and protect him and care for him no matter what. The night before she finally called me with my amnio results I was 24 weeks and 1 day…. I was suffering with horrible hyperemesis and was in the shower puking my guts out….I was crying and sad. I kept thinking about how awfully sick I was and how it sucks to be sick and hurt….it sucks to hurt….and then I felt my son kick and flutter..’he would hurt’…he would hurt alot….. Surgeries, lots of them…. surgeries lots of them, that may never ‘fix’ him… and if he has a chromosome defect surgeries he wouldn’t understand, he’d hurt, he wouldn’t be fixed and he wouldn’t even know why he hurt…and that I was the one allowing him to be hurt, that his mom was taking him to be cut open and proded, to be hurt in vain…. At that time I believed in GoD…. and when I was in that shower I was the lowest I had ever been him my life… a name popped in my head ‘Dominik’ I would name my son Dominik. i got out of the shower and grabbed my baby book name and looked it up…it said “belonging to GOD”…. thats when i made the choice not for me, not for my self, I could stand with my moral convictions and anti-abortion stance because abortion was wrong….but really…whats more wrong then a mom not protecting her baby….not protecting her baby from pain, from hurt. A mother that loves her child and wants the best for them would never hurt their child, especially when the hurt will never fix what’s broken. The following day my OB called…and told me the even more crushing news and confirming what I think I already knew….he had a chromosome defect as well…. I scheduled my induction. I was having an ‘abortion”…. At 25 weeks I walked into L&D at OHSU. The moms walking the halls in labor where painful to watch, in a few hours they will give birth and hold these little screaming bundles of joy and in a day or two they will take them home….in a few hours I will give birth to a dead baby and be walking out empty-handed with an enormous hole in my heart. The induction was no different then any other. I was given misoprostol to dilate and then Pitocin to induce labor. I was given a morphine drip for pain and declined an epidural…. no one came in with any vacuums and sucked out brains, there were no long needles with caustic chemicals introduced into the amniotic sac…Dominik was born still after 49 hours of labor. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t see his face in my mind, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t cry, there is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful. I am thankful that abortion is safe, that abortion is legal, I am thankful for the women before me that fought for my right… for my right to do what was best for my son. Happy Birthday Dominik Kennedy. I miss you soooo much, I miss you everyday…and I am so glad you never had to feel pain, to be hurt. I am so glad to have had you in my life and I am so glad you taught me what being a mom really is.