The Truthful Choice
Amy L. Haba
© Copyright 2022 by Amy L Haba
Photo courtesy Duané Viljoen at Pexels.
was scared out of my mind and blissfully embracing motherhood with
youthful naivety; this is the emotional paradox of pregnancy. I knew
nothing. I tried to crash-course myself into perfected mommy-hood.
With over twenty-five years between then and now, I can still say
with certainty a thousand times a year I felt I failed miserably. It
felt like the crying nights, the dirty diapers, the “terrible
twos” and “worser
an eternity, but
in a blink, he was grown and moving out.
I can say with the most unwavering honesty; every parent worries no matter how old their child. My parents still worry about my brother and I; we are forty and forty-six. There have been moments that I worried I would be that mom; leaning a ladder to his second-story apartment window just to make sure he was ok, but motherhood changes us at every phase.
In my first go-round with pregnancy my body went into full pre-eclampsia. I delivered the boys at 30 weeks. Ian underwent open-heart surgery, and we lost him at five days old. By the time Dakota came home 9 weeks later, I think I could have placed him in a plastic bubble for the next 18 years if his dad had let me. Motherhood has been an endless process of faith, trust, and letting go.
Dakota came into this world abruptly and
kept us on our
toes. Our hearts were full from the instant he arrived. We wanted
more of that, all the laughter, the wonder, and even the craziness he
brought, I wanted to quadruple that! I loved being a mom.
We had seven more attempts at growing our family; I think it became my personal trial between my body and the universe. I remember crying in Rick’s arms, in the dark, sniffling out,
“I feel like my body failed me”.
If only I could have seen how hard I was being, but I just grew angry and more stubborn.
After the sixth attempt, we learned my body was just never made to carry a baby to a safe term. We all say childbirth is a miracle, but Dakota is living proof of a miracle. Science continuously proves that something greater exists. With Dakota, every atom, molecule, speck of stardust all aligned to take favor upon us. I remember the doctor looking at all my medical charts, and finally looking up and saying,
“I am not one to believe in such things, but the fact that you even have your son is nothing less than a miracle”.
We would learn that I have Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS). I experience Thrombocytopenia; my platelets drop low and my blood does not clot, my body attacks the pregnancy, and then me. I almost died two times, have had six blood transfusions, intravenous platelets, steroids, heparin, and once dialysis.
Multiple doctors, one being the head of OB/GYN and specializing in high risk pregnancies at a well-known national hospital, almost had it all figured out. Even as he sat with me in the hospital in his golf attire, having raced off the course somewhere along the 8th and 9th holes on a gorgeous summer Saturday. I looked at my doctor and spoke with streaming tears,
All my blood work said everything was great, but I knew it was starting. I begged him to take her right then to give her a chance; a baby’s life at 24 weeks gestational, it was possible. It was far more logical then leaving her in my death-trap of a womb. I knew my body was going to fight against us both in a matter of hours.
He sat with me, and together we cried. At that time, the law in Indiana said he couldn't take her, because there was not medical proof to show that she or I were in medical danger. I laid there in that bed until they lost her heartbeat three hours later. All the while knowing I was losing her, I still prayed for a miracle that wasn’t going to come twice.
By 2007 I had a partial descending aortic
dissection, and spent three weeks in a medical coma and another two
weeks in the CICU. I don’t know if I fully realized the price
of all my "trying". I accepted it as another hurdle. I am
sure part of me, on hard days, saw it as another failure. I know we
all felt that the weight of trying ever again would bring nothing but
heartbreak, we had a glimpse of what life would look like when I was
in a coma.
I have a saint of a husband, and a child that is a resiliency master, but we were all were showing our wear. I had to come to terms and find my acceptance of reality and my body. I needed to regain my peace; we needed to be a family.
By 2013 we were back in Michigan, I did not want or need to get pregnant and was truly happy with that decision. Pregnancy was not at all what we: he or I were willing to go through ever again, but we were about to.
It was an unusually warm December day. I felt like I was out of my body, hovering over myself. As we sat with yet another head of OB/GYN at another amazing hospital. I was pregnant by what felt like immaculate conception given all our checks, balances, and fears.
The new doctor reviewed all my records and then he reviewed all my cardiology team’s reports. He told me his best decision as a doctor would be to end my pregnancy then at 7-8 weeks vs burying us both in another 16 weeks. He added that nothing presented as abnormal on all my bloodwork, but science had showed us inevitably what happened every time prior. Due to my health history they admitted me to the Women's Hospital connected to a state-of-the-art cardiac hospital, to do the procedure. In the event that anything went horribly wrong with my body, we had many measures.
and I both had the right to do this; to choose, what was best for me
and my pregnancy. To be clear, even though we held that “right”,
it did not make it feel better, nor was it something to celebrate,
nor was it something we leaped into.
Choosing myself over that baby felt greedy and selfish. There I was pregnant, by what felt like a one in a billion chance. I knew I had a subset of APS that less than 1% of all women with APS have, I also knew that window between 22 and 24 weeks all too well, and I knew to a painstaking degree the hellish war my body would wage on us both. Still, I felt cruel for choosing me, over him or her. I was raised that my life - all life, is divinely given and taken by Him, and never for our human hands to choose the end.
Today, I have nine years of reflection. I
see I carried a lifetime of propaganda, outside beliefs, and the
overbearing shadow of what others would think of me. I long carried
and painfully felt the words of my father who once told
12-year-old me, who questioned the meaning of a pro-life bumper
sticker. Firmly he towered over me stating loudly,
“If ever you have an abortion you will be dead to me in my eyes. I will consider you a murderer. God doesn’t like murderers and neither do I!”
That fearful 12-year-old little girl sat front and center in my then 38-year-old pregnant body waging a war of irrational thinking.
My poor dad would probably hate that he ever made me feel any of that; to have questioned the value of my own life, over certain loss.
We all say things based on our upbringing to our children, often without thought, it’s just there. This is the same man when the doctors told them that it was more than likely a choice: Dakota and Ian, or me, he did not hesitate to choose me. This didn’t make him a murderer, it made him a loving father.
I am the face of a woman who had to choose me, my life, the life my husband and I built with our son, my life as a mom to a remarkable boy. Not because I am a murderer, but rather a rational, educated, God-fearing woman who understands what my body is and is not capable of, regardless if others cannot.
It took me a very long time, many dark nights with guilt and shame, and a lot of prayer-filled talks.
I have never shared my story.
It has long been a chapter of my life that I struggle to read.
Yet here I am. I have spoken my truth.
I hope my voice reaches other women like me.
I am a woman who made the best choice for me.
I am the only one who should.