Brothers and sisters in Christ, I would like to take this opportunity today to bare my testimony.
Three years ago I was pregnant with my 4th child. Strangely enough, I had an extreme sense of foreboding with my AFP test. (A test used to screen for chromosomal abnormalities and neural tube defects) I actually made a special trip into the doctor’s office to get reweighed before the test since I hadn’t been weighed in several weeks and I knew that the maternal weight was important to the calculation of the final result. I was extremely nervous about the test which was bizarre since I had 3 other pregnancies and never gave that test a second thought.
My results came in 2 days before Christmas. Abnormal. I wasn’t really surprised, just crushed. I “KNEW” something was wrong. I had a 1:55 chance of having a baby with Trisomy 18. T18 (Edward’s Syndrome) is considered incompatible with life. It is an extra chromosome not unlike T21 (Down’s Syndome) but this one is much much worse. Ninety percent of babies with T18 are dead by age one. Usually, they die in utero or the first week of birth.
So here I was faced with this absolutely devasting news right at Christmas. That time was an absolute blurr, mostly because I couldn’t stop crying.
We went to Christmas Eve Mass at a different parish mostly because ours is so large and if you don’t go at least an hour early, you’re not going to get a seat. So we went to this other parish which actually doesn’t have it’s permanent building yet because it is brand new. So finding a seat is not nearly as difficult.
Father came up to our family and welcomed us most warmly. He kept complimenting us on our family. Since Mass was to start and he was very busy, we couldn’t tell him what was troubling us so much. He did spontaneously give me a blessing which made me cry and I had to try to keep myself under control the rest of the Mass as best I could. I’ve never prayed so hard in my entire life.
We went home, put the kids to bed and talked. I’m so ashamed of this, but it is part of the story and part of my testimony…so I will share…
We were given our options from the genetic counselor. Of course I hadn’t had the amniocentsis test yet to confirm the T18, but to discuss all our options should we get the diagnosis…The prognosis was awful. The doctor said we could obviously carry the pregnancy for as long as it would go or I could have labor induced so basically the baby would be delivered much too early to survive…on purpose. Certainly not a partial-birth abortion, but a way to end the pregnancy.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit in the moments of my most dark, desperate thoughts that I did not seriously consider that as an option. I thought hysterically, how can I continue a pregnancy of a baby that is doomed to die? How can I plan for a funeral after I deliver? I did just want the situation to just go away. I then turned away from my pregnancy. I didn’t want to get attached.
It didn’t help that my husband’s parents are Mormon. Certainly they were extremely saddened by the situation, but me “aborting” the pregnancy in this circumstance is certainly permissible in their church. Listening to them only seemed to encourage me to think of the “easy way out”. At that time, my husband was inactive LDS. He has since converted to Catholicism. I’d like to think this experience is a part of that.
I went for the amniocentsis and then began the longest wait I’ve ever endured.
However, during the wait, I suddenly had a feeling of peace come over me. I had made my decision. I knew by the extreme peace I finally felt after these 3 weeks of absolute torment that my decision for life no matter what the result of the test, was the absolute right one. I know the holy spirit was with me and everything was going to be all right. I felt the loving arms of our savior carrying me, just like in that poem.
At that time, I think my husband still had decided on the early delivery, so I kept my final decision to myself to avoid any more strife since it wasn’t necessary to bring it up.
We finally got our results and all our baby’s chromosomes were completely normal. It was a false positive…or divine intervention?
That Easter, right before we delivered our precious baby, we ended up at that other parish for Mass (again since we couldn’t get out the door early enough:rolleyes: ). Father came right up and had remembered us from Christmas. He saw my huge belly and immediately put his hands on it and gave me the most beautiful blessing I’ve ever heard. I wish I could remember it all, but it contained Luke 1:41 “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” And my baby moved just then and leapt in my womb. It was like we came full circle.
We are truly blessed.