Having Been Given the Option…

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The choice happened so quickly, I almost forgot about it. The decision seemed insignificant at the time. Easy, even—especially in the wake of the news we had just been given. It wasn’t until years later, as I unraveled the intense grief and shock from that day, that I asked my husband, “Did that really happen? Did the doctors offer us an abortion?”

In 2010, we were twenty-seven weeks pregnant with our second son Carter when we found out that he had a rare birth defect called bilateral renal agenesis. Without cause, he had never developed kidneys. No treatments were available at that time, and we were told that his body could not sustain life after birth. By law, our baby was considered nonviable.

As we processed this news, we were given our options: Carry our son to term (with no guarantees that he would even be born alive) or choose to end the pregnancy early. The word abortion was never used.

Without needing time to consult one another, my husband and I decided to continue the pregnancy. Many people have said we were brave, but we felt nothing of the sort. Broken was more accurate. All we knew were: 1) We couldn’t bring ourselves to pick the date our son would die, and 2) pregnancy was our time with him. We already felt shortchanged—and we wanted all the moments we were given.

Now I think it’s important to mention—to avoid demonizing anyone who was doing her job—that every doctor, nurse, and staff member who knew our situation treated us with nothing but compassion. The option to terminate took a back-burner to the empathy displayed and support offered. And as a result, the conversation seemed like such a small moment. And in our story, it was.

But what strikes me now years later is that had I paused, had I given weight to both my options, I could have missed everything.

Yes, I was shattered emotionally. I spent many days barely able to function as I tried to adjust to the idea that my son would soon die. Our oldest son was 15-months-old at the time, so I was acutely aware of what I would be missing. First smiles. First words. Even knowing the color of his eyes.

But then, something shifted. God’s grace fell fresh. While the grief was ever-present, a sweetness began to overtake those six weeks I carried my son. Instead of focusing on all the things I would be without, I began to savor: The way he’d wiggle, turning from side to side as I took my nightly bubble bath. How he’d stretch his little limbs as I sang him lullabies. How I craved baked potatoes on a daily basis, so I assumed he liked them as well. Every hiccup, every movement, the way I’d couldn’t quite get comfortable when I’d crawl into bed—all this became sacred. It was our time with him.

Carter was born on February 2, 2011, and he lived for an hour. I spent every moment possible trying to memorize his sweet face. His toes. The way his right ear folded over on itself, no matter how many times I tried to correct it. He had a full head of dark hair. That one hour became holy ground.

While our time with him was short and the emotional-mental anguish often too much to bear, not for one moment did the grief outweighed the grace. I have no regrets. I cherish every day spent waiting for my son to die—because that is when he lived. Yes, it was unbearably hard. I will walk this earth forever wounded, missing a son who isn’t here. But without question, the joy I received from our time with Carter and the way his short life changed countless others—including mine—outweighs any burden I now must carry.

Because his life held weight. His life held value. His life was viable.

I’m no political commentator. In fact, my tendency leans toward not getting involved. The world doesn’t need one more voice, especially when we’re not trying to listen. But in the last several months as I’ve paid attention to the news, my heart has been grieving all over again. The battle over abortion rights aches me to the core—yes, for the unborn babies, but for everyone involved, really.

As a mother who was given her options, I know how pain can wreck a person. Life feels incredibly unfair and impossible sometimes. And while I don’t pretend to know or understand every circumstance, while I would not point my finger at any woman who chose differently than I did, I just can’t shake this ache. I wonder how many beautiful moments have been missed in the shadow of broken dreams.

My guess is that the battle over abortion will continue to rage. And if I wanted to join in, to tell my story and shake my fist, I suppose I have a platform to do so. But instead of joining in the fight, I have decided to take a knee—to pray for the leaders and women and the doctors and the legislators who find themselves in seemingly impossible situations. To pray for those who are being given options and those who must give them, for the individuals who fight for good things but have lost sight of God. For we who feel like helpless bystanders in a war that goes much deeper than biology. For all these people, I will pray.

No matter where your opinions lie, my plea is that you join me. With Mother’s Day approaching, I can think of no better day to pray for redemption and restoration in our nation. Because we will get nowhere in championing the sanctity of human life if we do not first see the sacredness in each other.

And we need God for that. Not anger. Not judgement. Not remaining in comfortable ignorance. But infallible power wrapped in abundant grace. For He is our only option.

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