“This baby is going to be born with major birth defects. We need to schedule an abortion immediately.”
These words were quite a shock to me as an 18 year old living far away from home on an island military base with my husband when I found out I was expecting our first child. I was nervous, excited, and scared already, but to have these words said to me by the obstetrician was crushing.
My previous six months had been spent recovering from an 18-day hospitalization for a deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism due to birth control pills and an unknown inherited blood clotting disorder from which I came very close to death. To combat future blood clots, a vena cava filter was implanted, and I was put on medication for the next six months. It was during this time when the doctors told me that, due to my blood clotting disorder, I would have to remain on the medication for life. Since the medication was known to cause birth defects, I was told to not become pregnant.
When I discovered I was pregnant with an at-home test, I was overjoyed. I made an appointment with the doctor to get confirmation, but she was less than thrilled. My doctor had me come in daily for blood tests to determine if the baby was growing because she didn’t think he would survive. Every day I remember praying the numbers would double to prove that my baby was indeed growing and developing. My doctor continued telling me that I would likely lose the baby due to being on the anticoagulant medication. After a few weeks of blood tests, she asked me to come in for an ultrasound to see if the baby was developing. That is when she said those fateful words to me: “You need an abortion.”
Not only did the doctor tell me that my baby would probably miscarry, but if not, he would have major facial bone deformities and possible spinal cord issues.
Her strong recommendation was an abortion.
I was devastated and went home to call my parents. I told my parents the news and what the doctor said. My mom immediately replied, “Don’t let them touch that baby! We will pray for him and for you.”
At every appointment, the doctor kept telling me to not expect the baby to survive child birth or to survive long after if I did not miscarry or abort. She was still pushing me to have an abortion for both of our sakes. She continued to tell me that I was a high-risk pregnancy due to my blood clotting disorder and that it could kill me to continue with the pregnancy. The admonition to abort was now becoming not a request but seemed to be a military order. With my adamant refusal, the military hospital decided I was too high risk to remain on the island and sent me home to live with my parents for the duration of the pregnancy. Arriving in Chicago, the recommendation was to go to a Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor at a nearby Chicago teaching hospital. The doctors were still very concerned about birth defects and my own health, but they did not demand an abortion.
As the time for his birth was nearing, the doctors began forming a plan. I was unique in that they had never had an opportunity to study a pregnant mother with this particular blood disorder. The delivery plan was to have two teams of doctors—one for me and one for the baby with extra doctors on stand-by for emergency surgery if the baby’s spine was exposed or his face needed reconstruction. It was an extremely intense time. Hundreds of Christians were praying for me and my baby. I believed in and hoped for a miracle. Finally, that fateful day arrived. The labor went well, and my son was born. But he was born not breathing, and his skin was very dark. My parents were praying hard for him to breathe. When we finally heard his first cry, we rejoiced—crying and praising God for this miracle! He was alive and perfectly healthy. No facial bone deformities nor spinal cord issues. Just a beautiful little bundle of joy.
I know the Great Physician had His hand on the life of my child from the very beginning. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart…” (Jeremiah 1:5).
I am so thankful I did not listen to the doctors pushing me to take his life before he even had a chance to grow and develop. Many would have justified the abortion saying that I could have other babies, or that he wouldn’t have survived anyway, or it would save my life from a high-risk pregnancy.
But I knew that God was knitting my son together in my womb, and He had a plan and purpose for his life.
Looking back, 24 years later, I realize what joy and happiness I would have never known had I followed that medical advice. Praise God that He protected us, gave me the courage I needed to do what I knew was right, and provided a loving, prayerful support system for me along the way.
After all those doomsday warnings from the doctors, it turns out there was one side effect from my medication that my son recently discovered. He only has two of his four wisdom teeth—a far cry from miscarriage or the major birth defects I was told to expect. What a miracle that only the Lord could perform. To God be the glory!