I’ll never forget November 3, 2016.
I was pregnant with twins, and it was the day of my 18-week ultrasound. I was so excited to find out the babies’ gender. Were we having two boys, two girls, or a boy and a girl? Though I would have been thrilled with any combination, I was hoping for a boy and a girl.
My husband, Mauricio, and I arrived at the clinic near our home, and we were soon told that we had boy/girl twins. I was beyond ecstatic! The technician then asked us to wait while she tracked down the radiologist to come speak with us.
An Unexpected Diagnosis
The doctor entered and, with a solemn face, explained that our little boy had a condition called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. I would need to go to a clinic for high-risk pregnancies the following week. Without any further information, we left the clinic hopeful that the issue was minor, blissfully unaware of the turmoil to come.
The following week, we made our way to the Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic. After a two-hour-long ultrasound, a middle-aged female doctor met with us and explained our son’s condition in detail. There was a large hole on the right side of his diaphragm muscle that had allowed his intestines and liver to navigate up into the chest, crowding out his lungs. The right lung was practically nonexistent and the left lung was only 27% the size of a healthy lung. With treatment, he had only about a 25% chance of survival. Without treatment, he would suffocate as soon as he was born.
A Tragic Choice
My mind was whirling trying to process all this information. It had never occurred to me that my child might die! Without an opportunity to process this news, I was hit with yet another bombshell.
“In situations like these,” the doctor said, “you may want to consider having a reduction.”
A reduction? I thought. What does she mean…? Oh, wait a minute…she means an abortion. She wants us to kill our son.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Though I was in a state of shock, I knew I could never allow him to be harmed. I wasn’t able to articulate an answer, but my husband came to my rescue and said, “We know you’re talking about abortion, and let me tell you — we stand for life. We will not have an abortion, and we will fight for our son.”
I didn’t realize it at the time, but we had just received a prenatal diagnosis. Though it isn’t something that’s talked about much, it’s a real and relatively common occurrence. It’s also traumatic.
Nothing prepares you for all the hopes and dreams you had for your child to be dashed. If you’re not standing on the solid rock of Jesus, it has the potential to crush you.
From that day forward, my husband and I faced pushback from the doctors for not only choosing to carry on with our pregnancy, but for insisting that our son receive treatment at birth. We were asked again to consider abortion at least two more times, and then were offered palliation. I’ve since learned this is called perinatal hospice, which is a dignified way to honor the life of a baby who will likely die before or soon after birth. We continued to insist, though, that the doctors do their best to save our son, and we would trust in our God to do His part. But they followed up our request by offering palliation two more times.
Why Wouldn’t They Respect Our Choice?
Mauricio and I were incredibly frustrated that these doctors wouldn’t respect our choice. Isn’t that what everybody says this is all about? Choice, according to the culture, is the ability to choose what you will do with your body (although there are actually two distinct human bodies involved). We chose life, so why were they pushing their agenda rather than respecting our choice? I can only assume it was because we had chosen a path that defies the overarching mindset of today’s world.
From the beginning, I couldn’t understand why the doctors believed that killing my son was the solution to his congenital issue. Many in our world today have been blinded by the lie of false compassion—the belief that it’s merciful to end the life of someone who suffers, or in the case of the unborn, someone who presumably will suffer. But true compassion says I will suffer with you and do all I can to alleviate your suffering. For me, it has always been plain as day that every preborn child is alive and has great value as a person made in the image of God. I grew up reading Psalm 139:13-14, which says:
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.”
Mauricio and I understood that both my son and daughter, equally, were being woven together by the Lord, that He loved them immeasurably, and that He had a plan for both of them. We knew that God could do a miracle and save our son if He so chose. How freeing it was to know that it was His responsibility to make that decision, not ours.
And so, with hearts full of hope emboldened by faith, we determined to bring our son before God’s throne of grace in prayer.
To continue reading Christin and Mauricio’s story, please click here for part 2.