So here I am at 22 weeks. Don’t I look like I’m going to drop this baby any second? Okay, well maybe not any second, but I think I look about 8 months along in this photo, instead of 5 & 1/2 months! Sheesh, what’s the deal with this pregnancy? Are there two of them in there? Nope, just one. Just one big one, I guess.
*I took this photo on my iPhone and then cropped it to hide my arm fat. What, you don’t do this? Don’t lie, you know you do. I can’t be the only vain one out there.*
Lately my little guy has been really kicking up a storm. And he’s strong! I mean, for just 22 weeks I’m amazed at how strong his kicks are. When I’m in the bath, his kicks actually make the water ripple. It’s a trip! He seriously puts some effort into it. It’s like, “Bam! Take THAT, Mom!” and “Whooopah! How’s THAT one feel?” and I’m like, “Dude, what’d I ever do to you? You barely know me!” Of course his kicks don’t hurt yet, but wow…they will soon. I can tell.
So today I learned of another mama-to-be who is also expecting a son. She, like me, is cherishing all the kicks and movements she feels. She is joyfully listening to his heartbeat from time to time. She is playing music for him and singing to him, her love for him growing stronger as each day passes. I know all those feelings because I am going through those experiences, too. But what I am not experiencing is how it feels to know that the baby I am carrying will only be with me for the duration of the pregnancy, that my sweet son will most likely only live a few minutes or hours after his birth, that all the plans I had for his life are not going to happen because his life will end much sooner than I ever thought possible. This is what that other mama knows, and I can only imagine the heartbreak that goes with that knowledge.
It was discovered earlier in her pregnancy that her sweet son has a condition called anencephaly. He might live for a few minutes after his birth, or he might live for a few hours or even a few days. No one knows for sure how long he will live, but what they do know is that he cannot survive for long with his condition. Although it breaks my heart to know what this mama is going through, I’ll admit that it also warms my heart to know that she is choosing to carry her pregnancy to term. I know there are many, many out there who would think that in such a case ending the pregnancy early on would be the right thing to do. Why prolong the inevitable? If the baby is going to die soon after birth, then what’s the purpose in carrying it to term? Isn’t it better for everyone, especially the baby, to end it’s life sooner rather than it happening later? Well, maybe for some that would feel like the right thing to do, but not all feel this way. If it were me, I would choose to carry my baby to term, no matter the outcome. If my baby has a beating heart, I will not be the one to stop it. It’s simply not my place to do so.
And who is to say what child’s life will not have purpose? How can we know of the blessings that are possible when we are given a child that is not normal, unless we choose life for that child in order to find out? Even if that life is short, there can still be purpose to it. Suppose a baby with anencephaly was born and lived for 2 hours and 53 minutes, and then her vitals started slowing and the doctors told her parents that she was slipping away, but instead of letting her little heart stop they decide to place her on life support to keep it beating. Then suppose her very healthy and perfectly formed heart was donated to another infant who needed a heart transplant to survive. And suppose that baby lived a long life and gave his family much joy. Now tell me, would that baby girl’s life not have had meaning? Would her short life not have blessed another family in the most precious way possible? I know that not all situations can allow for organ donation, but even if not, there are many other ways a baby can bring joy and blessings to a family, even if they can only be here on earth for a very short time. Just knowing and holding your baby for a few minutes can be very healing when you know he or she will soon pass away. Some would rather love on their baby (love on – meaning to hold, hug, kiss) for a few short minutes or hours…than to not have the chance to love on their baby at all.
So yes, my heart breaks for this mama who will soon have to say good-bye to her baby boy, but my heart also rejoices with her because she is finding the beauty in the present; she is getting to know him through his heartbeat and his kicks, she is taking him places (most recently to Disneyland) and she is allowing his big sister to feel his kicks and get to know her baby brother. And when he is born, this mama will hold her son and kiss him, and look into his eyes. She will feel his warm body against hers and he will feel her love for as long as his little heart beats. I don’t know about you all, but I happen to think this is a brave and beautiful way to show respect for life ~ for her son’s life, which is so precious and purposeful, no matter how short it may be.You can read all about baby Ezekiel Anthony on his Facebook Page, and you can go to their memorial bench page if you’d like to donate to help with the purchase of his memorial bench. Please keep this family in your thoughts and prayers.