People keep reminding me that I don't have to defend myself. But that can be really hard to remember at times. So, while I'll try not to defend myself, I'll try to at least explain things a little better. It may not change the hearts and minds of the few people who still hold judgement, but at least I will have tried.
EIFWAIL is an acronym for "early induction for fetuses with anomolies incompatible with life." It is what we chose for our Sarah. I was very angry with people and judgements that they made when we first found out that she couldn't live. I didn't feel that I should have to give a lot of details. I still don't. I was surprised at the harsh reactions.
I did read everything that people sent me. Some of it was very persuasive. At first I really considered letting her go to term. Of course, my first understanding of Sarah's condition was only what it meant to her. I was still terrified of continuing to carry her, to become more and more attached with every kick. Sometimes I wished she'd stop kicking and I wouldn't have to feel her. As it was she didn't kick often. She never moved much at all. I don't know what decision I would have come to if she had been anencephalic, and posed no threat to me. I was torn. But I did read it all. I did listen.
Each time I spoke to my doctors, I'd have another list of questions, all of them about her. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to ask about myself. I suppose I didn't care at first. I wanted them to give me a shred of hope that she could live. That we could do something to make her be okay. There was nothing. People kept posting, even on other blogs about retarded children, or children with handicaps, and how much their parents loved them. I WISHED that she had something like that. That we could bring her home. I'm a homeschooling mom! I know of a group in the area for special needs kids! I would have rejoiced at that point with that diagnosis! But it never came.
Each time I spoke with the doctors, they had some new specialist involved in the case. They went over and over her test results. So many people weighed in, all with the same conclusion. No one really believed that she could survive the birth process, ever. Not with all of the problems in her head. Though at one point I was told that there was always a chance that she could be born alive, but that was my regular OB, and not the specialist.
So, it came down to what the risks were for me. Obviously there are risks associated with giving birth and with early induction. There are more risks associated with giving birth. On top of that, our daughter's pathology lent itself to other complications with me, because of what they believed was happening, and would continue to happen within her head. That these issues would have surfaced was not definite, but was much, much more likely. If I continued the pregnancy I would have to be closely monitored.
None of the articles I read really seemed to address that. They talked about anencephalic babies, who really pose no threat to their mothers. But what about when your baby could threaten your own health and safety? I was supposed to wait until I was at serious risk, or until I was in trouble? How sick did I have to be (as Jennifer often asked me)? Then I could deliver my baby who couldn't live? I couldn't see how that was logical. I still can't.
I still can't see why a woman should put herself at the most risk for a child that cannot live. This doesn't mean that I am right. I am fully willing to admit that just because I think I'm right, doesn't mean that I am. I love the idea of perinatal hospice. I think it's an amazing gift and service. I believe that women who have carried their dying babies are incredible. But I also don't think their children's deaths were any easier. Because there is NO time that is easier to have your baby die.
Believe it or not, I don't believe in moral relativity. I believe that there are absolute wrongs and rights in the world, and one God who is the standard by which these things are judged. What I don't believe is that our judgement is always as perfect as His. That's where mercy and compassion come in on our parts. People all over the world believe that it is 100% okay to do a number of things that I don't agree with. That doesn't mean that I have to agree, or that I can't work for what I believe is right. But lashing out at people who disagree with me in anger and hatred will never futher my cause. So, for me, now, the issue isn't about whether or not there is a right answer, but did we come to the right one?
I still don't know. I am responsible for when Sarah died. But what killed her is what would have killed her whenever she was delivered. Her head couldn't take the birth process, and that simply wasn't going to change, no matter how long I left her in to cook, no matter which method we used to deliver her.
My arms, heart, and even my eyes ache for her and miss her. Emotionally I think maybe I'm falling apart. Yet God has not abandoned me. He is still by my side. And if I was wrong, I believe that His blood will cover me.
But I made what I believed to be the best decision possible with the information I was given. Information that was correct. My doctors didn't lie to me. They didn't push me. They gave me a lot of information, and then supported the decision we came to.
Was it hard? Ya, it was hard. It's still hard. I don't know when it will stop being hard. My daughter died! I love her! I wanted her! I still want her. The feelings of expectancy didn't disolve or dissapear with her heartbeat. I suppose some people may even think that I don't have the right to grieve her, as they believe I am ultimately responsible for ending her life. And some people have decided that I'm not really pro-life. Other people believe it is misplaced to offer someone like me compassion, and that it should be reserved for Sarah. My Sarah, who is safe in the arms of Jesus. She no longer needs it.
Even if you don't agree with our decision, I can't believe people can't see how this has torn us up. How this has broken my heart. How I feel the weight of my missing her every minute of every day. How I grieve. Even if you don't agree with our decision, how can the grieving not deserve compassion?
If we are called to suffer at times in our walk with Christ, believe me now that I am. That I did, and that I will. Every day I ask Him to make my burden lighter, or to make my suffering draw me closer to Him. So far He has only answered my second prayer. But He promises one day to dry all our tears. I'm counting on it.
My heart is with every mother who has ever recieved the kind of news that we did. And if there are any other mothers who made the same choice that we did, to induce a child who was terminal, please e-mail me. I've found support groups for loss, but none for EIFWAIL. Regardless of right or wrong, we deserve to share our stories and heal. And if you don't agree with me, well, the truth is that at this point, I couldn't give a flying bug's butt. I actually had a much more colorful way of saying that, but it involved profanity, and that I reserve for really special occasions.