Friday, April 17, 2009

My thoughts on choice

When you're told that your child has anencephaly you are given a choice. Do you continue the pregnancy to term or do you interrupt the pregnancy? No one should have to make a choice like that. For some people they choose to carry their child to term. Other people choose to go ahead and deliver. Now I have seen those who choose to go ahead and deliver say that it was such a hard decision to make and I don't doubt that it was. For me, the decision was very easy. I chose to carry Carleigh to term.

I honestly hate that such a choice even exists. I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels that way. Now, I can't speak for every parent of a child with anencephaly but I believe that most of us, no matter what choice we made, love our child very much and that we made whatever decision based on what we thought was best for us, our family, and the child we were carrying. There are many different reasons to make certain choices. Some may choose to carry to term based on spiritual, religious, or moral reasons. Some do it simply out of love. Some may choose to deliver immediately based on their own emotional well-being and that of their family's. There can be many more reasons either way. Every person has their own reason for their choice and each is uniquely different.

We should never judge a person who makes a decision different than what we would've chosen. God tells us not to judge others and He's pretty smart. And really, you shouldn't if you haven't walked in that person's shoes. (Well, you shouldn't even if you have!) I must say that after finding out about Carleigh I struggled to understand how anyone would choose to go ahead and terminate. I knew that I loved Carleigh so much already and the thought of ending everything right then and there was more devastating than the diagnosis. But I have come to know that when I have continued out of love some choose to end out of love. It's not a love I completely understand because I haven't been there and I didn't make that choice.

I truly hope that those who face this situation make the choice that they can live with for the rest of their lives. You can never take it back. I hope that they do their own research and not just listen to a doctor when they say to terminate. Doctors don't know everything! The fact is that only 5% of babies with anencephaly are carried to term. That is a staggering figure and very shocking. It may seem like I'm picking on people who choose not to carry to term but that's not what I'm trying to do at all. I'm just trying to get people to think. I know all of you have read my story and the stories of the other moms on blogger. None of us regret carrying to term. I haven't come across a family yet who has had such a regret. I have come across those who have regretted ending their pregnancies early and my heart goes out to them. I truly hope they are getting the support they need. I'd like to get people to reflect before making a truly life-altering decision.

To see how the Catholic church stands on this issue click here. I, myself, am not Catholic but I know that many people are so I thought it would be good to include this.


Christina said...

You write beautifully!

Anonymous said...

I am anonymous because I talk about my sister and I don't know if she'd like me sharing this. Sorry for the anonymity. My sister had a baby with anencephaly and other defects when she was just 17. He lived for one hour. Her second baby survived and is normal. Her third had anencephaly again, and was born still at 5 months gestation. For a young girl to go through so much in such a short amount of time was devastating to her and to her marriage. Her fourth pregnancy resulted in another diagnosis of anencephaly and other defects again. She chose to terminate as she could not emotionally go through it again, and was told the baby would not survive, even in the womb. So devastating again. She never wanted to make a choice like that. After genetic counseling, rare chromosomal defects were found in both her and her husband. Her living daughter is a miracle to this day. Thank you for your honesty and transparency in sharing your story. I have prayed for you. I am so sorry you and so many young vibrant women have to go through this. I have to say my sister has a part of her that is so broken. Who knows where she'd be if this type of group existed back then. I applaud you and all of the moms for your tireless and selfless efforts to share your stories and lift each other up. God bless you all!!

Andi Soergel said...

Well said, Holly. You are a very good writer!

Anonymous said...

First off I would like to say I have been following your story and my heart is with you. Your daughter is beautiful!

I have had to make this choice myself. It was the hardest thing I have done and will ever have to do, but we did what was right for our family at the time. I was induced at 23 weeks and our beautiful girl was born alive and lived for just a short time. It was the most beautiful thing to feel her move and I will never regret my choice.
If it were to ever happen again, I cannot say I would terminate again, that is something I couldn't decide until I was in that situation another time.
I would just like to say that don't let anybody make the choice for you. Do what you feel is right, what you need. Everybodies story will be different with different circumstances and it is your baby and your body.

Chantelle said...

I wanted to thank you for acknowledging this fact - that mothers make their choice out of love, whatever choice that is and no matter what the choice is, it is a very difficult one. 15 years ago, when I was 18, my mother had a surprise pregnancy... baby #9. His ultrasound showed that he had exencephaly - his brain was on the outside of the back of his head. As you understand, this absolutely devasted my family, especially my mom. For at least another month, my parents got 2nd opinions, talked to church leaders, Dr's and God. They were told if he even made it to term, he would never survive birth and donating his organs was not possible. In the end, my brother was born around 26 weeks gestation. He lived for one precious hour. Over the last few months I have been following your story and some other mother's in your situation and every time someone said, "I would never do that do my baby... I love him" it would break my heart a little more. My parents love my brother - they still do. We miss him so much and we are trying so hard to live the way we should so that we will have the privelege of being with him again. So thank you, again, for acknowleging the fact that my mom loved her baby too. Thank you also for sharing your story. YOu are a choice daughter of God and a good example. How sweet the day will be when we get these precious babies back into our arms... where we always wanted them to be.

Nicole said...

Holly, I am so glad you brought this up. I love how you put it. No judgment, whether you think termination is the right thing or not its not our place to judge or look down on others for their choices.I believe every mother who had to make this type of choice loved their babies. They love them and they still grieve over their loss just like mothers like us who carried our babies to full term.

If you have ever read my story you will know that I did not know what I was going to do when I found out Logan had anencephaly. I was so scared of the unknown and I didn't think I had it in me to carry Logan for 4 more months knowing he would die soon after or before birth. That first day I thought that I would probably go ahead and induce labor. It was not until I started reading stories on line of other mothers who had carried their babies to term & I found out that it was possible for our babies to live for a little while after birth. Once I found that out I knew I wanted to carry Logan to full term. Now I am so glad that I did, if I would have delivered him early I would have missed out on 33 hours of him alive in my arms.

I am not religious like most mothers are who carried to term, I am not strictly pro-life, I am just a mother who followed her heart because I wanted as much time as possible with my son.

I do hope that all mothers who are faced with this decision will research anencephaly on their own, don't take your doctors word because many doctors dont know all the facts on anencephaly and will scare a lot of mothers into doing something they will later regret. I feel for those mothers who were scared into termination when had they known the truth they would have carried their sweet babies as long as possible. I do not judge them, my heart goes out to them.

Wow I didn't mean to write a novel here. Thank you for posting this Holly. ((hugs)) you have such a caring heart, I am lucky to have "met" you.

Nicole Mommy to Logan Quinn

Nicole said...

Thank you so much for sponsoring my sweetie!! We hit 500.00!!! I cant thank you enough girl! I will be sure to sponsor you when you walk for Carleigh! Much love.

Brooks said...

5% is a staggering number. I really appreciate that even though you stand so firm in your decision, and that you know it's right, that you are fair to those who've made different choices. I wish the rest of the world were like this.

April Swenby said...

Well Holly, you know exactly how I feel and that I completely share your opinion. You have taken the words right from God's mouth. No matter what the situation, it isn't our place to judge. Remember, we could all be victims of choice. I am just so happy that you have been given such peace and grace as you have made yours and I pray that every mom who faces the burden of choice, feels his grace and peace.

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