Editor’s Note: Claire Mackness of St. Thomas More High School, Hamilton, Ontariowon third prize in the Fr. Ted Essay contest sponsored by Niagara Right to Life. The contest asked participants to reflect on the statement: You are a child in the prenatal stage of development. Are all the current biomedical/technological breakthroughs helpful in advancing your right to life as a preborn human being?
My home had slowly shifted from a place of security and safety to one filled with confusion and terror. My mother, who was waiting in a dark, grey room with a single bed, fidgeted slightly with her thumbs. Her hospital gown flowing gently over her body, and arching right at her belly, formed a small bump. That’s me. I’m her little bump, her baby. I do not know why she was feeling that unsteady. For the past week something had felt wrong. She had been deciding whether or not to go to this building, she kept telling herself that it would be better if she went, but she was there and I could feel that she was more stressed than ever.
Footsteps made their way to the door and a woman wearing a white coat walked in, holding a clipboard.
“Hello Annie, I am doctor Wendy. I was told you wanted to see a consultant about an abortion?” she said, sitting on a chair in front of my mother. Looking down at her clipboard she explained, “unfortunately, you are 11 weeks along, so an abortion by pill would not be the right option for you.” Taking a pause and looking up, she continued, “I suggest that I perform an in-clinic abortion to end the pregnancy. Now you do have options. Our first method would be using suction, called vacuum aspiration, to take the pregnancy out of your uterus. This is the most common type of in-clinic abortion. The other option is a dilation and evacuation. We would use suction and medical tools to empty your uterus.”
My heart dropped.
“End the pregnancy? Abortion? But mom, my life is just starting! Why do you not want me, I do not understand this? Mom I am here, I wish you could just see me. I wish you could know that I’m really here!” These thoughts cluttered my mind with me desperately hoping that she could hear them.
Miraculously, she stood up shaking with uncertainty and said, “I’m sorry, I – uh – I don’t think I want this, I’m sorry,” as she threw open the door and ran out of that dark room. I was literally jumping for joy as we raced out of that building, my body floating around in my mom’s tummy. When we got outside, the warmness of the sun was shining in on me, and I felt safe again.
“It’s okay mom, I know you are scared. It’s going to be okay though.” I wanted to whisper this in her ear, to reassure her that she made the right choice, so she would not go back in that terrible building.
As my mother turned the corner, she was greeted by a woman holding a sign, reading “Pro-life.” The woman smiled at her gently and asked if my mom had a minute to talk.
It was soon after my mother met this woman that I can say my mom’s anxieties and fears finally went away.
We continued to walk down the street with the woman who held the sign — Alice was her name — and we walked into a different building. This building, the good building, was where we went for the next few months.
This was the building where my mom found me. I heard someone call it a Pregnancy Center, but for me it was my heaven. She had an ultrasound there one day. She could see my tiny hands, feet, arms, legs, she could even tell that I was a little girl. I knew that if she could just see me that she would know that I was really there.
She kept that picture of my ultrasound everywhere she went. When she went to the blood clinic and found out that she had Rh-negative blood, while I had Rh-positive blood, she looked at me, at the ultrasound picture, and I felt her heart beat return to a steady pulse.
The doctor explained to her, “If your blood and your baby’s blood mix, your body will start to make antibodies that can damage your baby’s red blood cells. You need to take a needle in order to protect your baby.”
As my mother got her needle, she again grasped on to the picture of me, holding it firmly in her hand to keep her calm. I could see how much she needed that picture of me. Without it she would have lost her faith in me.
Weeks passed and we continued to go to the pregnancy center. I soon was able to recognize Alice’s soft voice. When my mother went to see her for help, or support, I could feel my mom become more calm, which made me calm. I held on to those moments of serenity when things got scary and confusing, and things were always scary and confusing for me and mom at the hospital. I had many appointments to go to since my IUGR, also known as an unborn baby’s gestational age, did not match my proper weight ratio. My mom switched to a healthy and nutritious diet to give me more nutrients so I could gain weight, and she was even told to rest a lot so that I could get more blood flow. I loved those days when we both just slept for hours comforting each other. I wanted to grow, but I was too weak, too little. My energy started to decrease and something felt wrong.
At my next check-up, the doctor had told us that my mother would have to have an induced labour. He had tried to keep me in as long as possible, but since I had stopped growing, and seemed to be having minor complications, the doctor thought it was healthier for me to be monitored outside of my mother’s uterus.
Although I was weak, I remembered what my mother told me before the procedure. We were in an isolated hospital room, my mother lying on her bed cradling her baby bump. The bump was much bigger than all those months before. I was bigger, just not big enough. My mother tenderly spoke, “Hey baby girl, I just want to say this, in case anything happens… I love you. You are strong, stronger than me, I know that you can fight. When I first found out I was pregnant, I admit I was scared, and I did not know if I wanted to have a baby. But now, that I might lose you, I’m scared to death that I will not be able to survive without you.”
These words gave me strength. I promised her in return,
“I will fight, and I will live.”
The induced labour did not run smoothly. I was too weak, small, and fragile to come out. The doctor quickly made the decision to switch to an emergency caesareansection, which meant he had to cut my mom open and pull me out. I was so scared to hurt my mom like that, but before I knew it, two large hands lifted me up from my cave of darkness. Confusion had filled me as I was passed from doctor to nurse, being moved gently, yet quickly. I tried to open my eyes, but I was crying too much to see anything. I was cleaned and immediately placed in my new home, my transparent box, called an incubator. This home was safe. It kept me away from germs and monitored me, and even gave me a breathing tube to help me breath. It was so different from inside my mom, I just wanted to be with her. I wanted to hear her heart beat again. But I did not know where she went.
I heard her. I wearily opened my eyes, adjusting them to all the foreign sights and movements. I saw a blurry shape, right beside my head. It was her. It was my mom!
“Hi my baby girl, I’m so glad you are okay,” she said, tears falling from her eyes.
I gave my best attempt at a smile, and thought to myself, “we are going to be okay.”