credit Ashley Hayes and Lakeside Portraits
Getting Bad News and Giving Good News
by Nancy E. Head
You're excited to be pregnant. Then the news hits you like a rock. Your child is "incompatible with life. You should terminate." Or "You have to terminate." It happens more often than you might think.
But not every unborn child so labeled dies.
What follows is a post by Rachael, a friend.
She knows all too well what it means since she and her husband Mike found out a year ago that they were expecting identical twin girls--and that the babies were at risk.
"'SIUGR stands for selective intrauterine growth restriction and occurs only in monochorionic (identical) twin pregnancies.
"About 10% of monochorionic pregnancies will develop SIUGR. Many doctors do not know enough about this condition, and as a result, many are still recommending that parents terminate the smaller identical twin.
"We were given the option to terminate [the smaller baby] Vesper. We faced the options of terminating or relying on faith. We were told, if Vesper passes away, you are going to cause her sister (Olenna) to either pass or have severe brain damage. And you need to prepare for a life with a severely disabled child if that happens. As I watched them dancing on the ultrasound screen, we determined then and there that termination was not an option for us. Vesper was growing and fighting to survive. She was just smaller than Olenna.
"So we went to the doctor every two weeks. The anxiety that filled each appointment until we heard both of their heartbeats is something I hope I never have to relive. But every week our girls fought and grew. After 24 weeks the medical staff stopped asking us every appointment if we were going to terminate.
"Finally, at 34 weeks, the longest they would allow our pregnancy to go, we delivered two beautiful baby girls.
"I am raising awareness for every fighter- survivor and angel out there. Olenna and Vesper want you to know that SIUGR does not automatically mean a death sentence. There is always hope. My girls are six months old, and the Joy for our days. I thank God for them.
"’This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.’” John 9:3"
That's Rachael's testimony of life for both her babies.
Hannah Sudlow's story is different, yet the same.
Her single baby Evelyn has the genetic disorder Trisomy 18. Her doctor told her Evelyn would surely die.
“She is incompatible with life. She won’t survive. I don’t think you understand how serious this is.”
But Hannah and her husband Craig insisted on giving life to Evelyn—and committed to enjoying her as long as God allowed her to live. The medical practice treating Hannah did not take the news well.
"I was immediately dropped from the practice after calling through screams and sobs to ask where in the world that information came from and that I would continue my pregnancy. I went five weeks without a provider. Tragically, it was a thousand times easier to schedule an abortion for my child than it was to find proper care for myself and my pregnancy."
Five weeks with no overseeing physician during a high-risk pregnancy. Easy to abort. Hard to find care. Tragic, indeed. But a tragedy averted.
Because Evelyn is now 2-1/2 years old.
"The only tragedy here would be never meeting Evelyn. All of our days are limited. Not just a child with a chronic illness. None of us are promised tomorrow. I remind myself daily that on my best day or worst day caring for Evelyn, I never have the power to add or subtract a day from her life. "
Former US Senator Rick Santorum and his wife Karen
They also have a daughter with Trisomy 18. They too received the terrible news that they HAD TO abort their child who was incompatible with life. They refused.
Doctors are not the authors of life and death. God gives us people to love for as long as they and we are here to love.
But we are to love all people—even the purveyors of abortion—those who abort children who would be challenged and those who abort children who are merely inconvenient.
We are to love even those people.
When we do, hearts change—even the hearts of those performing abortions.
Abby Johnson was one such heart.
And now she works to help abortion industry workers find a new way of life.
Johnson worked in a Planned Parenthood clinic that sat inside a fence. Outside the fence, pro-life people prayed. After years of standing and encouraging life, they committed to 40 days of prayer–two people at the site 24/7 for the duration of 40 days.
Johnson had begun her career at Planned Parenthood as a volunteer. She walked with “clients” from their cars to the door of the abortion facility as she talked to them–trying to distract them as those holding vigil outside the fence tried to offer help other than abortion.
She then moved up through the ranks of hired employees to the position of clinic director—the on-site boss.
All along, the pro-lifers offered her friendship. Then came Forty Days for Life.
And then came an answer to those prayers.
After eight years, Abby Johnson became one of those on the outside of the fence–one offering prayers for the clients as well as the clinic employees and volunteers. And she tells of her transition in Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the LifeLine.
I read this book–in a matter of a few days–after I’d read Abby’s second book–The Walls Are Talking: Former Abortion Clinic Workers Tell Their Stories. I finished that book in just a bit more than 24 hours. I could not put it down.
The Preface of that book begins with this statement from Abby: “This will not be an enjoyable read. It is a necessary one, however, as it narrates the real-life experiences of former abortion clinic workers who agreed to be interviewed, as well as some of my own.”
Reading the books out of order actually provided the context for the less detailed stories she provides in Unplanned. Neither book is for the faint of heart. Yet, I agree with Abby’s preface to the second book: It is hard but necessary.
You might wonder how someone could get caught up in the abortion industry to begin with. And you may also wonder why so many are leaving their jobs.
Swallow hard and pick these books up as soon as you can. Their pages will change you. Go see the movie—Unplanned. Even after the books, the movie provides a sense of reality a text does not.
And pray for Abby’s ministry—And Then There Were None–which helps abortion workers walk away, get new jobs, and build new lives.
Pray for Forty Days for Life–a ministry Abby once thought was limited to her own clinic but which now touches five continents. Pray for them all—prayer warriors and clinic workers. Women and men and babies.
Pray for parents who need to be brave for their children to survive. Pray for the Rachaels and Mikes, the Hannahs and Craigs, and the Ricks and Karens. And the others whose children are here at what seems like an inopportune time.
May we all pray and be brave. May we embrace life that there may there be more living children. As for abortion workers—may there be none because of changed hearts embracing life. Hearts like Abby Johnson’s who embraced life through the love of Christ—the Savior who always stands ready to rescue and redeem the weak and the sinner alike.
Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!
Photo Credit: Mike and Rachael Andrews Family Collection
About the Author
Author Nancy E. Head was a single mother with five children under the age of 14 when many in the Church came to her aid. Her story illustrates common problems in our society such as the fracturing of families and communities, reflecting a splintering Church. Alienated families and a riven Church cannot minister as effectively to their own members or others until they find accord.
Nancy is the author of Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ's Love Through the Church in One Accord. She leads a small group ministering to the needy in her community.
You can read Nancy’s HEADlines column on the 4th Saturday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.