a timely read

15 Mar

A beautiful, thoughtful piece written by a fellow mother in med school and a future neonatologist: 

Sometimes I wish I had chosen to continue the pregnancy for purely selfish reasons. Had we not aborted, our son’s birth would have been noted, his death would have been marked, and our deep and long-lasting grief would have been acknowledged and validated. Instead, we chose to give our baby what we felt was the most humane, comfortable, and loving end-of-life experience we felt we could facilitate, a cause that on its face is championed even in the most introductory ethics discussions among new medical students.

Because of the choice we made to end his life, our son never got the chance to gaze up at his parents, to see who it was that had been talking and singing to him all along. He never got the chance to fall asleep in our arms, bundled and cozy, pink lips and fuzzy hair like a duckling, smelling of milk and baby, the very best smell in the world. Neither, however, did he have to suffocate to death at birth, his small body gasping to fill his woefully hypoplastic lungs. He did not have to feel pain shooting throughout his abdomen, grossly distended with urinary ascites. He did not have to experience one minute away from the warmth and love of my body. We chose, instead, for him to be born straight into peace.

While in the NICU this month, I absolutely appreciate the validity of this choice.  And I respect and admire the love and bravery of Ms. Danziger, for making this excruciating parenting decision, for surviving this entire endeavor and continuing to mother in the face of profound grief, for sharing this piece of her story.


8 Responses to “a timely read”

  1. Joseph March 15, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    This wrong is so complete, no comment is necessary …. It says it all…

    Sent from my iPhone


    • annaojesus March 15, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

      Thank you, Joseph.

    • Joseph March 16, 2014 at 10:31 am #

      Sorry for the iPhone auto correction… This should have read” This Story is so complete, no comment is necessary….

      • annaojesus March 18, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

        Ah! Gotcha! I thought it was a little funny, but figured it was an issue with autocorrect, or maybe just a lingo I didn’t get. Regardless, thank you.

        On Sun, Mar 16, 2014 at 10:31 AM, anna in med school wrote:


  2. staciet March 15, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    “While in the NICU this month, I absolutely appreciate the validity of this choice.”

    I think it is important to remember that for almost every family in that NICU, the idea that you would entertain thinking thoughts like this while working with their child would be heartbreaking. Their hearts are living in those isolettes fighting for their lives. Just as the person in your link felt that she made the most humane choice for her unborn child, the families you are working with feel the same. To them, bringing a potentially ill child to term or birth is the most humane choice. As much as science is able to tell us about the risks to the future lives of children born prematurely, that science is far from exact. When you start making judgments like the statement quoted above, you are opening yourself up to very subtle (or maybe not so subtle) changes to how you would help someone who is very sick.

    I am pro choice. I feel it is very important for women and families to be able to make the very heartbreaking decisions like that made of the woman in your link if that is what they feel. To be faced with a pregnancy of a very sick child and knowing that child may live a short life after birth should he/she make it that far would be gut wrenching. I can not comment on the validity of one choice over the other because I have not been forced to make such a choice. In my humble opinion, that extends medical professionals. They should abstain from making such ethical judgments about how the parents handle such a situation as well.

    • annaojesus March 15, 2014 at 6:36 pm #

      Dear Staciet,

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. My comment was not meant as judgment. I intended to merely provide support, as I believe I do with parents who make a different choice. I’m a little concerned that you interpreted my statement that way. I believe I am profoundly empathetic towards parents across the spectrum of this decision-making process. Not that my opinion should or does matter, but I doubt very much that there are many wrong decisions in these horrible situations, simply incredibly personable ones. And, from my limited experience, parents find a great deal of comfort in hearing others voice that their decision is valid (as in this case: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/21/opinion/my-abortion-at-23-weeks.html?_r=0)–it does not invalidate other decisions.

      Again, I do appreciate your comment and opinions, so please continue to share. Or, if you have any questions or further concerns, my eyes and ears are open and willing. I’m grateful that folks of different philosophies take the time to consider the various challenges and complexities of these situations.

      For now, I hope you believe that my devotion toward the babies for whom I care and their families in the NICU is fervent and unwavering.


  3. Ms. Future PharmD March 15, 2014 at 11:24 pm #

    I’m glad that lots of people are reading that article. It’s important to me to be open to supporting parents in their choices about their potential children and it matters that we all hear the full range of experiences that lead to life ending sooner than we expected or hoped.

    • annaojesus March 18, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

      I could not agree more, though this subject is so, so hard to discuss, let alone confront in real life. Thank you very much for your input.

      On Sat, Mar 15, 2014 at 11:24 PM, anna in med school wrote:


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