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It Was the Right Decision for Our Family

Category: Elections

Tags: 20 week ban, Albuquerque, ballot measure

I've heard people say, no matter what side of the abortion issue they say they are on, that they don't know what they would do if faced with a pregnancy that has taken a tragic turn for the worse. And that is exactly why I urge Albuquerque voters to vote against the abortion ban on the ballot November 19. You just can't make decisions about abortion for someone else.

My first pregnancy wasn't easy, and my husband and I struggled to become pregnant again. We were thrilled when we learned in June we would be giving our beautiful son a brother or sister next spring.

Despite every preventive measure to prevent the complications I had in my first pregnancy, just weeks into my second pregnancy I became sick. Very sick. An extremely rare condition put me on total bed-rest, and I needed an IV from eight weeks on.

The threat this pregnancy posed to my health turned my whole family's lives upside down. With a toddler at home, my husband missed countless hours of work for childcare. On top of that, all household responsibilities fell onto him. Our neighbors pitched in to help him whenever they could, but it was a daily struggle for us to get reliable help since the wait lists for daycare in our town were at least six months. We had tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

But all of this, including the threat the treatment for my condition posed to my own health, was worth it. Numerous ultrasounds by high-risk specialists over the next several weeks showed our baby (a boy!) was growing, even though I had lost 30 pounds. Our dream of growing our family was coming true, and our small New Mexico community stood with us.

Then, at our fifth ultrasound appointment on October 1, the doctor saw a problem in our baby's brain, but he couldn't quite tell what it was. When we returned as instructed next week, our nightmare began. "It's really bad," he said, compassionately.

The ventricles in our son's brain were three times the size they should have been. There was almost no brain tissue visible at all -- a cyst growing in the back of his brain had prevented the cerebellum from forming, and crushed what little of it there was. A second opinion in Albuquerque confirmed what our doctor had told us: "Even if they could have stopped the damage from spreading right at that moment, there was no chance our son would ever breathe on his own." In the unlikely event that he could be carried to term, all our son would know before his death was suffering.

It was the most painful decision we ever had to make. I could continue to risk my health and my family's well-being to continue a pregnancy that we knew wouldn't make it, or we could end the pregnancy.

We thought very seriously about what to do. During that difficult time, I avoided everyone. What do you say to anybody who congratulates you on a baby you know will die? And what, I wondered, was I supposed to say to my two-year-old, who with such excitement would touch my stomach and proudly say, "baby."

After much anguish, my husband and I made the painful decision to end the pregnancy. It was the right decision for our family, given the only agonizing options we had.

We arranged for childcare for our son and induced labor at the Albuquerque hospital. This was our decision we made so we could hold our son, say goodbye and keep his footprints forever.

We said goodbye to David on October 19 -- exactly one month to the date from when voters in Albuquerque will decide whether another New Mexico woman faced with a heartbreaking circumstance similar to mine can make the right decision for her -- in consultation with her doctors, her values and her own family.

If you are a voter in Albuquerque, please vote no on November 19.

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Lauren, age 29, is a stay-at-home mom in New Mexico. She has requested anonymity to protect her privacy and the privacy of her family.

"It Was the Right Decision for Our Family" originally appeared in the Huffington Post.  You can read the article here


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