It was 1999 in Miami, Florida. I am forever grateful that my story happened in that place at that time. My heart goes out to those women who have not been as fortunate. My story really began in 1993, when my husband and I decided we would start trying to have a baby. Six years later, after three miscarriages, I was finally excited to have made it to my second trimester of pregnancy. At 17 weeks, we had picked out some names and I was feeling good. We both sat in the doctor’s office waiting for our turn for the ultrasound. The biggest problem at that moment was deciding whether we should find out the gender of the baby or not. We finally decided we’d keep the gender a surprise. We went into the room with the ultrasound and as the technician did her measurements, we saw our baby. We were excited and I babbled on a bit, but I couldn’t help but notice that the technician did not really wish to engage in any of our conversations and was taking a long time measuring the baby’s head. I also noticed a large black spot that filled the inside of the head. Never having had an ultrasound before, I didn’t know what it meant. I asked the technician, “What is the black spot in the baby’s head?”, but she ignored my question. The appointment was taking a long time and my husband was going to be late for work. We were both getting quite antsy and wondering why she had to keep measuring over and over. When my husband indicated that he would have to leave, the technician told him to wait and that she would get the doctor. The doctor came in and told us that the baby had a large fluid-filled sac in the brain and would very likely have extreme brain damage as a result. He accentuated the size of the fluid-sac and the fact that at this stage in the pregnancy, it was unlikely the baby would be in any way normal. He gave us the name of a genetic counselor and another perinatal specialist to see for another opinion. The exact diagnosis was Dandy-Walker syndrome. We walked out of the office dazed. We had to get in separate cars: he to go to work and me to go home alone and make some sense out of this unforeseen blow.
After a week of seeing specialists to confirm the severity of the abnormality and speaking to my Episcopal priest about the situation and praying and praying for some clarity, I decided to abort the fetus. I had always been pro-choice, but I didn’t ever imagine that I would ever opt to have an abortion. I had pined for a child for no less than 6 years. I spent Halloweens walking to our neighborhood street carnival seeing all of the children dressed up and wishing I could just have a baby. Now my hopes were dashed again, and it was the most painful experience of my life. The sense of loss was just unbearable. But deep in my prayers, the answer came to me that I was armed with information about this fetus, this baby, and I knew deep in my heart that it was not right to bring him or her into the world. He or she was not in the right shape to be in our world and perhaps he or she could be reborn, reincarnated if you will, into a healthier, more whole human being. With this clarity, I made the appointment to terminate the pregnancy. Thank God my hospital and my doctor were allowed to do this procedure without any raging, hateful people protesting such a thing. I don’t think I could have borne any more pain. The doctor, the nurses and the staff at the hospital were kind and wonderful. My D and E procedure went well. I knew one of the risks was that the uterus could be damaged. When I awoke, the first thing I asked was, “Is my uterus ok?” I just wanted to have children so badly. It was painful, but I healed. And two years later, I gave birth to healthy twins. Perhaps my first fetus was reincarnated and became one of the twins. I gave my twins names that mean “God is”, and “God has shown great favor”. I am doubly blessed, and I know that I made the right choice. I want to stand with all of those women who have been disparaged by men who will never understand the choices we have to make.