Our Heartbreaking Choices


Right after my tx, I decided to buy Our Heartbreaking Choices, a complication of stories from the women on the Termination for Medical Reasons board on the BabyCenter message board.

I didn’t want to read about women who had miscarriages, or women who had a still birth, or women who suffered from infant loss. I wanted to read about women who made the same decision that I did.

At first, I just read the stories about spina bifida. I couldn’t look at the other possibilities, because I thought that I’d just work myself up. To be honest, I am a little nervous about TTC again, not that I know more about these illnesses than I ever wanted to know.

But I’m glad that I went back and read all of them, because I found comfort in most stories.

Here are the parts that I’ve highlighted from the book that were particularly meaningful to me:

“We are moms who loved our precious babies enough to let them go far sooner than we ever wanted to. We took on the possibility of a lifetime of emotional pain so that our little ones would not have to feel one moment of pain.”
“No parent should ever have to grieve for a child silently, without support, without empathy from others, or without the same assistance and kindness of others who have already walked that same path.”
“But one truly never knows that one will do unless faced with a situation where a choice must be made, and must be made relatively quickly. Some people are pro-choice in theory – we are pro-choice in practice.”
  • I never thought I’d be pro-choice in practice. NEVER NEVER EVER. And here I am.

“…you CAN get through this tragic time, you CAN be happy again, and you CAN live and laugh again.”
“Please understand, my sweet son, that none of these was what we wanted. We wanted to be able to give you a rich, full life, We wanted to bring you home, We wanted to watch with wonder as you grew. We loved you so very much. So much. But how could we let you be born only to suffer?”
“How selfishly I wish for those moments of holding you in my arms, feeling your warmth, your movements outside my body. But I could not bear to think of you suffering.”
“God tested Abraham’s faith by commanding him to sacrifice his son Issac as a burnt offering… For you, Issac, there was no burning bush. There was no miracle.”
“Never was a baby wanted more than you were, my precious child!”
“If she wasn’t already in pain, she would be soon.”
“We chose to stop the suffering of our child. We didn’t look at is as having to make a decision – it was made for us when we heard the horrible news.”
“I realized that people whose babies are diagnosed after birth do not benefit at all from worrying about what their baby’s health will be like in 10 or 20 years. They can’t think that far down the road. They can’t think about college and marriage and independence. They have to think about getting them to nurse, and whether they need surgery for a heart defect, and how many surgeries they’re going to need this year… I was worried about all those things, but I knew there was still a choice we have to make that hadn’t been made yet, and to make that choice, we had to consider the long-term things we would face down the road. Otherwise we were just burying our heads in the sand to pretend that those things might not be there. So I knew in that way things were different for us than most of those other women. I knew that I had to think about my baby’s future.”
“We had determined that raising a special needs child was something we could do, but that didn’t necessarily mean I thought it was the right thing to do.”
“Firsthand accounts of some of the incredibly difficult health issues that these children face were paramount in our decision. The public only really sees that who are coined as “happy” children. But those who are subjected to countless surgeries and ailments are not exposed.”
“Life is precious, but so is quality of life. We who are so humane to our pets are judged for being humane to our children. Isn’t that what makes us good parents? We have the ability to know that instead of giving our children a life of suffering, we have given them… peace.”
“And that was when the veil of black came over my eyes, and over my soul.”
“I know people can be horribly judgmental and have a hard time seeing the world in shades of gray – more personally than I ever thought possible.”
” ‘Your baby is very sick.’ Those five words would change everything.”
“Ironically, I was teaching probability to the students and tried to tell myself that if I had 125 red chips in a bag and one blue one, pulling a red chip was much greater… I was destined to be the 1:10,ooo.”
“Infertility – what a dirty word. To me, it meant my existence had no purpose.”
“I couldn’t stand to listen to other women complain about their pregnancies. I hated them for being moms and I cringed every time another friend had a baby. I was not happy for them, because everyone else had what I wanted – a family.”
“We also knew that babies need affection and warmth and closeness and nourishment during the first year of life. Safety. Our baby would have none of these. He would be taken from our arms, cut open, and sewn back together. His heart would be stopped. His ribs would be broken. His brain would be put on ice. He would most likely sustain brain damage during the surgeries. He would experience all of these things if he were lucky enough to be born alive. He would experience them again and again. We were his parents and we could not let this happen to our son.”
“In my work, I had not only seen what the condition can do to the patient, but also to the caregivers. They become very isolated and sad people.”
“…one of those blessings is the fact that I was allowed to make this choice for myself, my husband, and my sweet, precious little daughter.”
“My heart was heavy, my soul was bruised, and my spirit was broken. But my son would never know pain or fear and that is why we did it.”

There are so many more sections that I have highlighted, but going back and rereading them all is a little too much for me. When I read through the first time, my highlights were diluted by the other words, but all together like this – I didn’t think it would be this hard.

I can’t count the times this book made me cry – my husband would see me curled up with it and get frustrated with me – but I think it was a much needed cry. It taught me that there is more than just a headache after the tears are over.


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