‘You can terminate the pregnancy or wait for the baby’s heart to be crushed.’ I feared being judged for deciding to save my life.’: Woman births rainbow baby after painful decision to abort dying son, ‘He was suffocating’

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“I met my husband in September 2014 at the ripe age of 19 years old. We were both servers at a local steakhouse. It didn’t take long for me to realize the tall, handsome blonde had a thing for me, but he was slow to make the move. So, I did it for him with a simple note left on his table at the end of the night telling him to text me if he was ever actually interested in spending time together. Let’s just say, the rest is history.

Courtesy of Madison L.

April 2016 is when the hardest part of our story begins. In a month, I would be graduating with my bachelor’s degree in public relations. I was applying for internships halfway across the country and making plans for my future. Life was exciting and full of promise for a wonderful career and brand-new experiences.

I remember the time leading up to the two pink lines vividly. I was exhausted, emotional, and swollen. My breasts were extremely painful, and I felt as though I had gained 10 pounds. I went to my 9 a.m. class on April 15th, 2016 knowing I would head to the dollar store near my house right after. My roommate was spending her last night in Lubbock before moving to California, so I knew we were going to be going out drinking and my cycle was late. The only responsible thing to do was to confirm I wasn’t pregnant with a test. I walked right into the Dollar Store, purchased two and headed back to my house.

I went straight to my bathroom and took the first test. As I watched the test work, I realized the first line came up…and so did the second line. My head started spinning. I grabbed the second test and did it again. Bam. Two lines. My mind started swarming with thoughts. I was still in college. I didn’t have a career. I wasn’t married. My parents were going to kill me. I grabbed my phone and called my now husband in a crying, screaming fit.

‘Courtland, I think I’m pregnant,’ I said. ‘Why do you think that?’ he replied.

‘I took two tests, and they are both positive.’

‘Those tests aren’t that accurate.’

I then screamed, ‘99.7% accurate,’ before hanging up and calling my sister, who was prepping for a test, and another friend who never answered. I made my final call to the girl I had spent the semester becoming friends with throughout our major final class before graduation. Kari was a lifesaver during these moments, and I will never forget her when reliving this day. I begged her to bring me an ‘expensive’ pregnancy test. She showed up with what she thought was 8 pregnancy tests but was actually 1 pregnancy test and an ovulation kit. A much-needed laugh and support were provided. She assured me my parents were not going to kill me, I was going to be the best mom ever and I was for sure having a girl.

Courtesy of Madison L.

The next week was spent having scary conversations with my parents. My husband’s parents and the rest of our family were shocked but supportive as always. Once that was all over with, I started allowing myself to become excited. We started talking about our future child. Would it be a boy or a girl? What should we name the baby if it’s a boy? Where were we going to live?

Courtesy of Madison L.

I had normal appointments with my amazing doctor at 8 and 12 weeks before graduating, becoming engaged, and taking a trip to Florida with my husband and a couple of friends. My first complication came in the middle of June. I was approximately 14 weeks pregnant. I was unable to hold down food. I never felt ill, but I threw up everything in my body for multiple days. I ended up in the hospital for fluids. They checked our baby’s heartbeat and sent me on the way. My nurse swears it was a bug of some sort, but I know in my heart it was the moment my body realized something was wrong with the pregnancy.

Courtesy of Madison L.
Courtesy of Madison L.

I went in for my 16 weeks check up on June 30th. I had been planning a gender reveal party for July 2nd as my doctor had told me he thought he would be able to tell what baby was by that appointment. It was my first ultrasound done on the stomach. The previous ones had been done vaginally, so I didn’t know what to expect this time. There wasn’t much I could make out and my doctor didn’t have a lot to say. He ended the visit with ‘I’m going to get you in with the doctor’s downstairs for this afternoon,’ and walked out.

My mom was there with me and she was friends with the nurse. I thought the appointment downstairs was so they could tell me the gender since their machines are much better than the small one in his office. I was so naive. I look back and am thankful for the few hours following I walked around clueless. The nurse had pulled my mom to the side and told her my doctor thought he saw fluid in the baby’s abdomen and was concerned. My mom did what we do as moms and chose to protect my heart a little longer. She took me to eat, called my dad and Courtland’s parents, and drove me back to the hospital all while holding it together.

Courtesy of Madison L.

As I sat in the waiting room, I told my mom I felt ridiculous for coming to a high-risk office just to find out the gender and other people probably actually needed my appointment for more serious reasons. It was at that moment she broke the news to me. ‘Madi, we aren’t here to find out the gender. We are here because your doctor thinks there is fluid in your baby’s abdomen, and he wants a second opinion.’ I have never felt heartbreak greater than I did at that moment. Courtland showed up shortly after and carried me through the rest. God bless my mom for already calling him.

The ultrasound tech did her job quietly as I bawled while I tried to stay still enough for her to get the images she needed. The high-risk doctor entered my room after reviewing the images. ‘Your baby has hydrops fetalis. There is fluid in the baby’s heart, lungs, brain, skin, and abdomen. The prognosis is very poor. Your baby is dying.’ They sent me to the lab to have every test done in the book. They were checking for genetic abnormalities and possible infections. They were looking for an answer. I was handed a sticky note by the high-risk doctor with a phone number written on either side for abortion clinics in New Mexico and in Dallas. When I visited with my original doctor an hour or so later, he told me ‘I know what I would tell my daughter to do in this situation.’ You see, this all took place at a private Christian hospital where it is against their code to ever suggest abortion, even in my situation where I was told my baby’s heart would stop…it was just a matter of time, including the extreme risks I would put myself through by continuing to carry a baby full of fluid.

I spent the Fourth of July weekend mourning, praying, and going over my options with Courtland and my family. I came to the decision to terminate my pregnancy if all the tests found there was nothing to be done and if my life was going to be at risk. The decision was supported by all involved.

July 5th came and the doctors were now sure it was a genetic abnormality, they just didn’t know which one. They confirmed there was nothing we could do, and I could either wait for the baby’s heart to be crushed while risking my life, or I could make the decision I had been dreading. I submitted to amniocentesis for the possibility of more answers. I had our baby’s heartbeat recorded and put in teddy bears so I would never forget the heartbeat of the first baby we ever loved. Then, I began praying for God to just stop our son’s heart and save me from making this decision.

Courtesy of Madison L.

My mom drove me to Albuquerque, New Mexico on July 6th. We stayed the night in a hotel and headed to the clinic on the morning of the 7th. I still remember the old man standing in front of the building with a sign that read ‘choose life.’ He didn’t know I was saving the only life I could at that point: mine. I would have chosen the life of my child over the certain suffering and death he was facing by being suffocated and restricted by the fluid filling and crushing him. I won’t go into detail as to what happened in the walls of the clinic, but I will tell you, the doctors and counselors working in this clinic were the greatest blessings. They walked me through each step, made sure I was safe and comfortable, and gifted me with the most beautiful items to remember our boy. We had the opportunity to cremate our little boy and his remains sit in an urn in our home.

Courtesy of Madison L.

For a time, I struggled when it came to sharing my story. I would never say how we lost our baby. I would just say, ‘We lost him.’ I was fearful of being judged by friends and family. I was scared I would be hated and looked down upon for making a decision that saved my life and gave me the opportunity to become pregnant 5 short months later with my rainbow, Sawyer.

I truly believe God carried me through this time in my life. I would not have gotten through these moments without having faith in Him. I know He is the reason I was blessed with Sawyer and with the baby I am carrying right now who is due in April. Sharing my story always takes a little toll on my heart and as Sawyer lays in bed next to me, wraps his arms around my neck and says, ‘It’s okay, momma. Don’t cry.’

Courtesy of Madison L.

Abortion was something I thought I would never choose. I’ve always believed in the right to choose, but I never believed I would be one to make that choice. Here I am, 3.5 years later thanking God I had the right to save my life. The right to share my story with the world.

Courtesy of Lo Photo Birth

I encourage you to withhold your judgments towards pro-choice activists. Many of them share stories very similar to mine. I encourage you to keep your negative opinions off social media. Someone you know has had an abortion whether you realize it or not, and whether or not you support their decision, they do not deserve to be called a murderer or a monster. They probably just decided, a very hard decision, they believed was best for themselves and their family. Until you have walked in their shoes, you will never understand.”

Courtesy of Lo Photo Birth

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Madison L. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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