October 2, 2008

What I Learned During This Pregnancy

I knew that my D-Day would come sooner or later, and since I couldn't guarantee that I would have access to a computer in the hospital, I wrote a few entries in advance. Here's #1:

Most women in Penn's High-Risk Pregnancy Clinic have been asked at least once if they want to terminate their pregnancy. My friend (let's call her Aalia) has been asked this question more times than the rest of us, and for good reason: Aalia has Brittle Bone Disease, a debilitating form of dwarfism. Standing no taller than the average kindergartner, the eight-month pregnant Aalia is all belly....literally. The added weight and pressure of her unborn baby has put such a strain on Aalia's petite body that she has a tremendously difficult time doing things that most of us take for granted (i.e. walking, sitting in a chair).

Because our doctors' appointments are scheduled on the same days and times every week, Aalia and I have had a lot of opportunities to talk about our pregnancies, and the choices that we have made in relation to them. Last week, Aalia told me the story of when her 20-week ultrasound revealed that the baby she was carrying would be born with the same debilitating disease with which she struggles.

"Would you consider terminating your pregnancy?" asked her doctor.
"Not any more than I would consider terminating myself," Aalia replied.

It's been a week, and I can't stop thinking about Aalia's response to her doctor's suggestion. Specifically, I am overwhelmed by this mother's love for her child...and for herself.

How often do we look in the mirror and lament our physical imperfections? More often, I bet, than Aalia does. As I catch myself focusing with increasing frequency on the inconveniences of pregnancy, I can't help but acknowledge with great admiration that Aalia understands with perfect clarity what many in the world never will: namely, that beauty lies in the gift of life itself.

13 comments

HW said...

All I can say is AMEN.
And thank you for your beautiful words for life.

Oh, and congratulations on that new baby!!!! I *heart* babies so much.

gigi said...

What a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing such beautiful insight.

Hope your little one is growing stronger each day. God Bless you and yours!

Likes Chocolate said...

I am amazed how doctors can so easily ask those words would you like to terminate your pregnacy. When I had my 18 weeks ultrasound with Roman, and we found out that he had CHD they asked me if I wanted to termninate my pregnacy. No way! It would not matter to me even if he had not been able to survive. I would still have said no way. Look at him now. He is my greatest joy. I am sorry your friend had to be asked that question.

Mia said...

With Boy Child's pregnancy there was an ultrasound where they couldn't see the correct amount of vessels in his cord. I was called at home an explained that my son would be a mutant and that what kind of person am I to bring a child in the world that would not have any quality of life. I explained that it didn't matter to me, he was my son and I will make sure that he matters and our family will love him not matter what. I made the staff mark the outside of my chart that I was to never be seen in the office at the same time that particular doctor was in the office as well.

The vessels appeared on the next ultrasound and my son is healthy and freakishly strong.

Life is to be cherished.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I am such a whimp when it comes to pregnancy. Despite good health, I manage to whine and complain, and often. I really admire those who handle pregnancy as the blessing it really is, and despite great challenges and real issues, move forward with such grace. (That's the amazing power of choice.)

Mrs. Morty said...

I can't imagine being ask such an offensive question. I'm sure in some book somewhere it says that doctors should make sure their patients have ALL their options spelled out to them, but really it is very insensitive and degrading to the life growing inside a mother. Good for your friend to say it like it is!!

The Mommy said...

My heart is absolutely overjoyed that I have found a mommy who not only embraces life, but isn't afraid to note that life...is not a choice. God bless you and your truly beautiful friend!

Britt said...

Life is so precious. Thanks for the post. I hope you are healing quickly and your baby is growing stronger.

Lindsey said...

Thank you for this.

Your blog always brings me laughter, but this entry brought me tears. Good ones, no worries.

I appreciate the reminder to focus on the wonderful gift of life I've been given, my own, my husband's and my daughter's.

I hope all is well with the new baby!

Helen said...

Well said Jana!

brossettelewis said...

I love her reply. I was asked too (because of twin to twin transfusion syndrome) and couldn't fathom having to ask (they have to give it as an option) or replying affirmative. I couldn't imagine choosing to end James's life, regardless of the hand he could have been dealt.

Sants said...

Loved this post. For so many reasons. I have three siblings with cystic fibrosis. I have a child that the doctor injured when he was born too. Two different disabilities (for lack of a better word), two different reasons, I wouldn't change anything.

I wish I knew your friend. I'd make her a minkie blanket for her new little one.

Cindy said...

Oh Jana, what a lovely way to express these thoughts. Having been through some of those moments myself, I agree. Life is a gift...