Her Name is Vanessa

by Val G

March 13, 2019

Content Warning: later abortion

I was 25 weeks pregnant with my very wanted third child, a little girl. We had already named her Vanessa because that name had a special meaning for us. Now it is even more special.


I went in for a follow up ultrasound to get a better view of her heart because she was not in a good position at my 20 week ultrasound. I thought it would be a routine visit, be given the all clear, and go on to enjoy the remaining 15 weeks of my pregnancy. Oh how wrong I was. After my doctor got a view of her heart (which he said looked good) he went back over her face. He went over and over again. Something wasn’t right. Her face was flat, no cute little  profile showing a  little nose and outline of her lips, nothing. Finally he said he didn’t see a nasal bone and referred me to maternal fetal medicine. I demanded I be seen that day. I called my husband and told him to meet me at the office.


And hour later I was getting my anatomy scan redone. It seemed like and eternity and I knew something was very wrong by the look on the technician’s face. I couldn’t take it anymore, I closed my eyes and cried on the table. When it was over the doctor came in with a list of defects. My daughter had a problem with the vessels around her heart, a cleft down the middle of her face, she had no nose, and there was a cyst in her brain. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong or what kind of quality of life she would have but that is was some kind of genetic condition. And my doctor had missed all of it at my 20 week ultrasound.


My husband and I knew what we had to do. We couldn’t risk out daughter suffering. We couldn’t put that burden on out family, especially our two living children. It was heartbreaking but we knew it was right. We didn’t have time to hesitate, I wasn’t 25 weeks pregnant and we had very few options.


We are so lucky to live in Maryland where there are no limits on when an abortion can be done. We are so lucky to live near Dr. Carhartt’s clinic in Bethesda MD. It sickens me that he is so vilified, because he saved my family and my daughter from suffering. He and his staff treated me and my baby with so much compassion and understanding. They made a horrible situation more bearable. We had the procedure done when I was 27 weeks. I never thought I would be there, needing a later term abortion. It wasn’t something I wanted, but the alternative was worse. My child would suffer. I would do anything to prevent that. It wasn’t a decision we made lightly. It was agonizing, tragic, but necessary. It was the most humane thing for my daughter.

My daughter ended up have a very rare condition. There are 18 other cases in scientific literature. She would have had a short lifetime of severe physical and mental disability. She would have needed 24 hour nursing care and multiple surgeries. I love my little girl. I miss her every day. But I know my husband and I made the right decision.


No one talks about the things that can go wrong. No one thinks they will ever be that less than 1%. It’s always some abstract statistic until it’s you. Horrible things can happen during pregnancy. We are at the mercy of genetics for a healthy baby and we are at the mercy of medical professionals to detect problems in a timely manner. Those things can fail. They did with me. I thank God every day I had the right to end my pregnancy and that there are people willing to help people like me despite the threats to their lives from anti abortion zealots.

Remember that our stories are ours to tell. We’d love to hear your story too!