Abortion is a touchy subject in our society. This is not meant as a social commentary on pro-choice or pro-life. I feel I need to write this to mothers facing a terrible diagnosis – whatever it is. On the trisomy boards, I see mothers asking should they terminate? Should they carry the baby to term? I see loving mothers struggling with the question of what is best for their unborn child. This would be my answer to that question.
There is no pain like the pain of facing your child’s death. There is no agony that can crush your heart more than knowing that your child is likely to be stolen from you as an infant or a toddler. When I look at my son, look into his wide, knowing blue eyes, touch his perfect, rosebud pink lips, I feel my heart shatter at the thought of never seeing those eyes again. When I stroke his soft, downy hair, I sometimes think of the day that I won’t be able to touch him again, to touch that soft baby hair. Sometimes, I imagine letting him go for the last time, never to hold his warm little body again. It is a physical pain that shoots through my body. It can paralyze me in its strength.
And yet, I would not change it. Not for a single second would I go back and do anything differently. If I knew at 12 weeks gestation, I wouldn’t have done a thing differently.
This little boy is a gift. He is a light in the world.
I was so afraid before he was born that he would have severe physical deformities, that I would love him less because he was “broken.” And he does have physical deformities – his hands are clenched, his fingers overlap, his little chin is small and undershot, his ears are low on his head. But it doesn’t matter, because all I see is my perfect little baby. While others may see the defects, I see his spirit shining through him. No physical deformity will change the love I feel for my son.
I was afraid that knowing my son was mentally handicapped would affect how much I loved him. Knowing that he will never be a scholar, never read, possibly never even do something as simple as say “mama.” It ate at me, caused me to ache.
None of it matters.
I hold him, and I look at him, and I see all that is good and beautiful about this life in that tiny elfin face, in his glowing blue eyes. I see too all that is hard and painful. It is all within him.
There are no regrets for bringing him into this world. I would not give away this pain to undo him. Despite the weight that I carry every single second of every single day, there is nothing that I would do differently.
Mothers facing this question – do not be afraid. It is hard. It is the worst heartache that I can imagine, and there is only more to come. But there is joy too. And I would do it all again just to hold James for even five minutes – to touch his downy head, to count his tiny toes, to hold his hand in mine. Even if I knew that he would not live, even if I knew I would lose him in pregnancy or shortly after birth (as we were afraid we might), I would not change any of it.
He is a gift that has been given to us. We don’t know for how long. We don’t know why it can’t be for the rest of our lives. Just because we didn’t know and still don’t know those things doesn’t mean that we can’t accept the gift of his life.
Don’t be afraid.