A mother recalls how the doctors didn’t recognize that the child they wanted her to abort was a ‘hidden miracle.’ They never imagined that, even though Joshua had spina bifida, he’d eventually play baseball, pretty much like everyone else:
In 1990 at the age of 19, I was told that the child whom I had been carrying for 16 weeks had a birth defect known as spina bifida.
>Being a single mom was going to be tough enough. I was called into my doctor’s office and told that my unborn child had a hole in his back and that he would require surgery after birth.
I was then referred to my local hospital where I saw a geneticist. I was told that my unborn child would be born deaf, blind, and “retarded.” He wouldn’t even be able to recognize me as his mother. The geneticist asked me what I pictured my child would be able to do. I said, “Play baseball.” I was then told to forget it, because he would spend his life in a wheelchair.
They told me not to read books on his condition, because they would only confuse me. I was told that if he lived, I would only watch him suffer. I was told I was too young to take on this responsibility and that I had my whole life ahead of me.
So I chose to have an abortion. It was a decision that was strongly influenced by everyone I met.
I was sent home to choose the name that would go on the death certificate, to decide whether I wanted him cremated or buried, whether I wanted to hold him, and if I wanted a photograph taken.
Because of my Catholic upbringing I was in inner turmoil. I went and spoke to the hospital chaplain who assured me that to have an abortion was okay. “God makes mistakes, and this is a mistake that it is okay to fix.”
I was then sent to see a gynecologist to have another ultrasound. The technician commented on the size of my baby’s head. What did that mean? I would lay in bed at night and feel my unborn child kick me. Why, if he is paralyzed, do I feel this?
When I returned to the hospital for the abortion, I asked, “Why does my unborn child kick me, if he is paralyzed?” They assured me it wasn’t the child kicking; it was simply the movement of the amniotic fluid.
The doctor then came in and told me they couldn’t do the abortion in Canada because I was so far along. They would fly me to the States.
“Forget it!” I responded. “If my child is that bad, then I will place him for adoption.” The doctor commented, “Who would adopt a thing like that?” I said a few choice words and left.
On May 5, 1991, Joshua Christopher graced the world with his presence. Before they took Joshua to a specialized children’s hospital, I looked in the incubator for the child they said I was to give birth to. Where was he? Joshua had ten fingers, ten toes, and a doll face. He lay screaming and kicking his legs. Where was the baby that was to be “retarded?” I reached out my hand and touched his. It soothed his crying.
Joshua’s condition at birth was spina bifida and hydrocephalus, which, if properly treated, is not fatal. He required two operations, one to close the lesion in his back, and another to put a shunt in to drain spinal fluid from his brain.
Remembering all the horrible words that were said to me fills me with great anger. I sometimes wonder, what if I had listened to them? What if I had aborted Joshua? Here is a beautiful little boy who has a right to live as everyone else does.
They robbed me of the joys of pregnancy. They tormented me as no one should ever be tormented. Why?
Joshua is now seven years old. He is the greatest gift I could ever have received. God walked that path with me. He helped me find a strength deep enough to follow through with the pregnancy and to make sure I could love Joshua unconditionally in order to carry out His work in caring for my son.
I wouldn’t trade anything in my life. I am fulfilled by the love that Joshua has brought me. He has shown me that life holds no boundaries, no conditions.
When I watch Joshua doing things that make him whole, I feel complete. I have done no more than what any mother would have done for her child.
I smile at the fact that I was told he would never play baseball. Joshua plays baseball every Tuesday night!
We cannot correct this imperfect world. Our perfect child at birth may experience a tragedy we cannot be prepared for. We can’t play God and pick and choose who should live and who should die. Everyone is born for a reason. These children are our future.
I only hope that others will find the hidden miracle in their baby that Joshua is to me and realize that God sometimes wraps blessings in disguise.
“Joshua’s Story” first appeared in “Respecting Every Baby Inside and Outside the Womb,” a resource distributed by Morning Light Ministry. To obtain the whole document, call (905) 278-2058.