As a man who obviously has never experienced pregnancy or childbirth, I must admit I feel unqualified to write for this blog. However as a father of 3 and grandfather of 7, I have witnessed a variety of child-rearing experiences, and have known that children are a blessing from God. When asked to write and share my perspective, I felt honored and humbled, and knew that the story closest to my heart for PAC's mission is that of my youngest daughter's pregnancies. With her permission, I'd like to share some of her story.
My daughter's first pregnancy became very complicated when her routine 18-week anatomy scan revealed a defect, an omphalocele, which occurs in 1 out of every 5,386 babies. A couple weeks later, it was discovered that my granddaughter also had Turner Syndrome, a chromosomal abnormality, which occurs about once in every 2,500 newborn girls, but is much more common among pregnancies that do not survive to term (miscarriages and stillbirths). We learned along the way that omphaloceles are frequently corrected with surgery after birth with great success, and that many women with Turner Syndrome live completely beautiful, healthy, and happy lives.
However, when these diagnoses were given, my daughter and her husband were advised to consider their options quickly, as they were fast approaching the gestational cutoff in their state for legal termination. At a time when they were reeling with the news of frightening complications and trying to understand what these conditions were and the implications for their daughter, the medical advisors available to them advised that termination might be much easier than caring for a child with birth defects. As her mother and I witnessed our own child struggling through this situation, we were shocked by how quickly the hospital staff suggested abortion as a solution to these complications. Regardless of the outcome of any pregnancy, it changes that mother (and father) forever. The road placed before them seemed almost impossible either way. For my daughter and her husband, choosing to fight for the life of their daughter was the only option. For that, her mother and I are eternally grateful.
At 30 weeks gestation, our granddaughter went to heaven. Three days later, she was stillborn. This was one of the most disheartening experiences of our lives. Our entire family and community had rallied in support of this young family, and no stone had been unturned in seeking care and support for this child. I know my daughter and her husband are grateful that they saw the pregnancy through, even with the tragic ending. They're confident that the overwhelming support carried them through the entire traumatic experience, through grieving the loss of their daughter, suffering a subsequent miscarriage, then through a third pregnancy and the joyously redemptive and miraculous birth of their, now 5-month-old, son.
What options present themselves to someone who finds herself facing the life-changing experience of pregnancy, planned or unplanned, who doesn't have that family support? Where there is a missing father, grandparent, or other family/community support, the Pregnancy Aid Clinic offers tremendous care and support for pregnant women. The coaching, counseling, ultrasounds, classes and financial support are free to those who walk in the door. Having witnessed up-close my daughter's difficult pregnancy journey, I feel drawn to this organization of people who prioritize a compassionate approach to partner with each woman, and her individual circumstances. I truly believe that this model of empathetic, individual care changes and saves lives. I hope and pray that this organization continues to expand its reach and message, and that this approach to pregnancy counsel be adopted by caregivers across the world.