Friday, July 30, 2010

The Grandchild I Never Knew

Abortion – it’s an ugly term. It has a deservedly harsh connotation to it, conveying an untimely ending and something gone horribly wrong.

My son and daughter-in-law had to make a decision to terminate their pregnancy recently, a pregnancy nearly four months along. They chose to do it, although in reality there was no choice. But it was still incredibly difficult.

Their baby – my grandchild – had a rare and fatal congenital birth defect called Sirenomelia, otherwise known as Mermaid Syndrome. Due to a vascular malfunction, the baby’s legs were fused together. The baby had no bladder, no kidneys, and no chance of surviving. The defect occurs once in about every 100,000 births.

The pain this caused my son and his wife, who very much wanted this second child, is indescribable. You cannot possibly fathom the depths of their despair unless you have been in a similar position. And while nowhere near as bad, the pain of having to watch our children go through this is something my wife and I pray we never have to experience again.

Our kids handled their situation with all the class, dignity and responsibility human beings can be expected to muster. We are so proud, even as our hearts break for them. Their strength and devotion to one another and their two-year-old son is the stuff of legends.

But their ordeal was made even more unnecessarily awful by the politics and social controversy surrounding the abortion issue. On one of the worst days of their lives, they became victims again – this time at the hands of those trying to do God’s work while in fact doing just the opposite.

Although my daughter-in-law was treated at a major Boston hospital, the time-sensitive nature of the procedure necessitated it be done at an affiliated establishment. After she and my son mustered the necessary courage and emotional strength to get where they had to go, they were met by something they had not considered in their grief – abortion protestors.

Two women were picketing outside the establishment, carrying signs and “communicating” with women walking in the door. One carried a sign of religious symbolism. As my son and his wife tried to enter the building where they would lose the baby they already loved so much, they were approached by the women.

“You’re killing your unborn baby!’ was the remark they would remember most as they walked past. They were both furious and devastated, but held their tempers and concentrated on what needed to be done. But once my daughter-in-law was in surgery, my son decided to take on the protestors.

In a calm but firm tone, he told them of his wife’s condition. How they had accosted her at the most vulnerable point in her life. How they had hurled accusations when they had no idea of the circumstances. How they claimed to be protecting, yet seemed more intent on hurting. And better yet, he recorded the entire conversation on his cell phone and posted it on his internet blog.

These particular protestors care about the unborn, but apparently are not concerned with those who have already come into the world. They made no attempt to discover the circumstances and just assumed this was a couple ending an unwanted pregnancy. To them, my kids were simply collateral damage in an ongoing war – the price to be paid for later success.

This column is not about a woman’s right to choose, although I have my own opinions on that matter. It is about the culture of hatred and disrespect that people today foster when they single-mindedly focus on one goal to the exclusion of nearly all else. It is about allowing the end to justify the means.

I am so proud of my son, and perhaps even more proud of his wife. At a time of great personal turmoil, they did not just retreat inside their own grief – though no one would have blamed them.

Rather, they cared enough to take the time to explain to these people how their actions can destroy others. How their words can scar forever. How nothing is ever as clear or as simple as it seems.

I love them dearly, and I will never forget the lessons they have taught us all.


♥ recipe addict said...

While I feel for your family, I can also understand why protesters are out there. Too many people use abortion as a means of birth control rather than taking the necessary precautions in the first place to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Few abortions are for actual medical reasons like your daughter-in-law's.

If you believe that abortion is the taking of a human life, then this use of abortion as a form of birth control would be upsetting.

If you believe that the fetus that is aborted is a human life, which you and your family clearly do since you referred to it as your grandchild and not merely some blob or tissue as most pro-choice advocates would claim, then you would know the implications of abortion is, in fact, killing a human life and not merely expelling some unwanted tissue from the body.

Like I said, I am sorry for the loss. I can't imagine being a mother and wanting the child and having to go through that, and on top of that being accosted outside and being told what she was told.

I don't agree with protesters doing that. But I do understand that in their eyes, they feel that is their last ditch effort to save the healthy children that are being aborted by the millions.

I hope that your daughter-in-law recovers physically and emotionally and is able to carry a healthy child to term and experience motherhood.

Bill Gouveia said...

I understand perfectly why the protestors are out there. I just don't agree they should lump everyone into one group and consider them "collateral damage" in their own persopnal morality war. Thanks for the comment.


_NastAsia_ said...

Oh,such a horrible story.I wish your daughter-in-law recovers physically and emotionally.Be strong!

Rambling Expat said...

Hi there,

It sadly takes a lot of courage today to make a personal decision like the one your daughter and son in law went trough.

A lot more than protesting outside of a building...

It should be a no brainer.

Kudos for your "kids" to have done what they saw as the right thing to do, and for you to write about it in a very dignified manner.

Have a good day,