Note: Cindy will be sharing a series of blogposts on protecting life, both during her pregnancy and after her son was born. This is the first post in her series.
I couldn’t believe it! My greatest dream was coming true! For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mom. Due to Endometriosis, my dream didn’t come true easily or quickly. But it did come true!
At our first ultrasound we found out we were expecting twin boys. I couldn’t believe it!! At our second ultrasound the technician spent a long time studying Baby B’s heart. I remember specifically asking, “what’s wrong with Baby B’s heart?” She gave the very proper answer that the doctor would be coming to answer all our questions. Both my husband and I held our breath until our doctor came through the door. (BTW… our OGBYN was one of my husband’s clients in banking. Somehow, that made me feel better. Sure, he had seen my cervix, but my husband knew the amount in his bank account.)
Our doctor said that the images of Baby B’s heart weren’t very clear, but he had some questions. There was a possibility that his heart didn’t have the correct number of chambers. We scheduled an appointment with the specialist. Three weeks later there was another ultrasound with the specialist, in a Catholic medical center, none the less. He agreed that something wasn’t right about Baby B’s heart. After going over the images and giving us his “expert opinion” I sat up and he turned my way. The doctor said that there was still a chance that this fetus wouldn’t survive. He apologized and told me that if his happened in Baby A instead of Baby B, he could have offered me a pregnancy reduction. He wasn’t sure what the baby’s quality of life would be.
I had to run his comment through my head another time in order to understand it. A “pregnancy reduction”? He was apologizing that he couldn’t offer to abort our baby. OUR CHILD?!? OUR DREAM COME TRUE? EXCUSE ME?!?
I finally turned toward him. By the grace of God I had the presence of mind to say, “Well, we believe in the power of prayer so we’ll see what we find at the next ultrasound. Our baby was created in the image and likeness of GOD! I can’t imagine a better quality of life.” I don’t remember exactly what I said after that, but I expressed to him that he was not to mention abortion in any way from this point on. In my head I told myself if this baby wasn’t meant to survive, it’s in the wrong womb. My husband and I would do everything possible to ensure that this baby survived and lived a life to its fullest, however that live might manifest itself. Next I contacted everyone I knew, and probably some I didn’t, to send a deluge of prayers heavenward. And at our ultrasound two weeks later we found two beating hearts. Our sons, growing each and every day. We found the same outcome at the next ultrasound, and at the next ultrasound.
We were actually referred to a pediatric cardiologist half-way through my pregnancy. He did his own ultrasounds and each time he referred to our son by name. Never as “embryo” or “fetus’ or even “baby.” And how blessed were we that this doctor understood this was already a unique, living being. We chose the name Aidan Christopher. Aidan means “little fiery one.” This son was always smaller than his twin brother, yet he kept on growing and developing despite the odds. I chose Christopher in honor of a boy I babysat for who died at the age of nine. We also made note that Aidan deserved the larger bedroom. Lucas, his twin brother, was always taking up 90% of the space. The ultrasounds found Aidan squished up under my ribs.
It doesn’t mean that everything was coming up roses after that. I went on bedrest at 28 weeks to try to keep Aidan growing for as long as possible. We knew that at one point, Aidan would stop growing and then it would be better for him to continue growing on the outside. The cardiologist and perinatologist kept a close eye on the development of both of the twins. As predicted, Aidan did stop growing. At 35 weeks 6 days I was induced. Our OBGYN would have likely performed a c-section, but another OBGYN was on duty and decided it would be best deliver vaginally. With Aidan’s delicate condition I was quite sure they wouldn’t let me labor too long. Clearly, I was wrong. Bless their hearts, a pediatric cardiology team was standing by during all 17 hours of labor.
Our bundles of joy, the fulfillment of my dreams, joined us on the “outside” early in the morning on April 1st. Both boys were whisked off to the NICU, but we counted our blessings and invited everyone to offer up prayers of thanksgiving.
Years later, when reflecting with the hospital social worker, she pointed out that not every woman would have made the same decision. The truth was, my husband and I had been married for eight years, were dedicated to our future family and each other, were educated, owned a home in the best school district in the metro, had medical insurance, had a supportive family, and were willing to do whatever it took for our baby. Can you imagine if a “pregnancy reduction” was offered to a 20 year-old mother who was going through this alone? Or to a couple who believed that life was disposable, especially if the quality of life was unknown? What if parents didn’t have health insurance and were worried about all the medical expenses they could incur?
I don’t believe this was a coincidence. It was a God-incident. In later prayer and reflection I feel as if….and this is going to sound crazy…somehow God told us that he had a special soul waiting for us. This soul needed parents who were committed to quitting their job in order to be with him in the hospital, or even to get him on the other’s medical insurance before he met the lifetime maximum. This little one needed, love, and nurturing, and parents courageous enough to fight many battles just to keep him alive. But, oh, his smile, and sense of humor, and his courage could not be surpassed. Despite the challenges, we would be blessed with love, and joy, and a sense of true purpose. On some level, I feel we agreed that we would take this special soul as ours.
As we got to see them, love them, and, finally, hold them I couldn’t imagine my life any other way. I was convinced that our journey of fighting for life was over. Aidan was a living breathing child and no one would dream of doing anything to compromise that life. Unfortunately, our fight to protect that life had just begun.
Copyright 2019 Cindy Clefisch
Author: The Well
The Well is a vibrant women’s ministry rooted in prayer, evangelization, and charitable action. We exist to gather women together, to foster spiritual friendships, and to build up the local Catholic community. Just as the Samaritan woman encountered Jesus at a well, we pray the work of this ministry opens doors to a deeper and sustained encounter with Jesus for those who gather with us.