“Something is wrong. I recommend that you abort this pregnancy.”
I was just turning 37 years old when I discovered that I was pregnant for the first time. I was in awe. And a little bit of shock. Mostly awe. My husband and I were in the middle of a long distance move from Buffalo to Connecticut. I had just been given a promotion and a new position with my company. It was a very exciting time for me.
Soon after settling into our new home in Connecticut, I scheduled my first doctor’s appointment. I was nail-biting nervous and cartwheel-excited all at the same time.
After my exam and first ultrasound, the nurse took me to a room to wait for the doctor. I waited a long time. When the doctor finally arrived, he was very blunt, and opened the conversation with. “Something’s not right. I recommend we abort this pregnancy before it goes any farther.”. I was stunned. I sputtered out questions and tried to get the doctor to tell me more. The doctor assured me that his technician was very competent, and that there were no mistakes. I left in shock. I processed all that had happened on the way home, and kept shaking my head, whispering, “no…” When I told my husband, he drove us back to the doctor’s office and asked to speak with him privately. We waited in an empty office for a long time. The doctor finally arrived, and was peeved to have been disrupted. He was very obstinate in his recommendation and wouldn’t budge. He became flippant and suggested that we “face the reality of the situation.”
My faith was newer back then, but I had heard enough to believe that God is bigger than our struggles. I felt the fight rise in me as this doctor’s attitude grew worse. I knew that I needed a big God to handle a big situation. As we started to leave the meeting with the doctor, I turned back and looked him in the eye. I simply said, “You don’t know my God.” I prayed, “God. Please back me up on this. You can have my life. Do whatever you want with it, but please….please just save this baby’s life.”
We found a new doctor, and they referred us to the nearby renowned neo-natal clinic at Yale University. I was in good hands. Yes, the original genetic counts were off the charts for possible abnormalities. We heard bizarre things like, “fetus might not thrive…”, “baby may not live outside the womb…”, “non-functioning…”. Yes, they were very concerned, but did not encourage me to abort. Instead, they made a plan to monitor the pregnancy very closely. They took a lot of blood work and performed ultrasounds every other week. I didn’t agree to the amniocentesis (sampling amniotic fluid from within in the womb) because I believed that God was working in the womb, and I didn’t want any needles getting in His way.
Eventually, we found out that our little baby was going to be a girl. Soon, she went from a non-functioning embryo to full of life and energy. The ultrasounds started to get exciting as we watched her squirm and flip around. The genetic counts steadily improved until finally, as we hit the middle of the third trimester, the specialists backed off and said that this risk was lowered to that of any other woman in her mid-late thirties. The constant ultrasounds slowed to once a month. I was excited about what God had done for my baby.
The excitement was building as we neared the end of the 8th month of pregnancy…just four and half weeks to go. We’d decided on the name Lara, and I couldn’t wait to meet her. As I was leaving work one evening, something changed. I felt fluid leaking. It was just once. Did I imagine that? I went home and made supper, and as I was cleaning up, it happened again. I told my husband that we should go to get checked…just in case. We drove to the hospital and waited for one of my doctors to arrive. After the exam, my doctor shook his head and said that he couldn’t see anything wrong. He suggested that I go home and rest. The nurse sat me up, and my water broke. She quickly called the doctor back in and he simply said, “You’re not going anywhere.”
For the next 24 hours, the doctors tried to induce labor so that I would deliver the baby naturally. My body simply would not respond to the medication. By that time the next evening, I was exhausted, and then the baby’s heart rate showing on the monitor beside me started to slow. She was clearly in distress. The doctors gathered in the hallway and were talking in those hushed tones that make you strain to hear what they are saying. They decided that an emergency cesarean was the best choice, and started to prepare me for surgery.
Thirty minutes later, they opened the womb to find that the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around the baby’s neck. If my body had responded to the medication, and gone into labor, delivering naturally, it would have strangled her.
From having watched Lara’s life develop on the screen, I firmly believe that God did have His hand on my little girl, both on helping the tiny embryo to thrive and in rescuing her when her wiggly self fell into trouble at the end. I am so grateful to have had that small amount of hope that the God I believed in could pull off a miracle. I’m so grateful that I didn’t listen to that doctor. I hope nobody else listens to a doctor that recommends abortion on the first visit. Today, Lara is still very wiggly. She’s a bright, full-of-life, ten year old that loves her Girl Scouts, her friends, and her track team…and mostly her dog, Pickles.. She loves God, too, and I find great peace in knowing that her life is still in His hands.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” – Psalm 139:13