Have you ever cried in a bookstore? I have, several times. Most recently on Wednesday, when I read the back cover of this book...
The book is called This Lovely Life, by Vicki Forman . It caught my eye because we share a first name. I cried because I have walked a few feet in her shoes.
Several years ago she became pregnant with boy/girl twins who were born at 23 weeks gestation.
A year and a half ago, as many of you know, 18 weeks into my boy/girl twin pregnancy, I was told that the pregnancy was in severe trouble.
She knew that babies born at 23 weeks had a very low survival rate and, if they lived, they would likely survive with profound disabilities that would greatly affect their quality of life. She asked the doctors to honor a DNR order and they declined, based on California law.
At 22 weeks, I sat in my high risk doctor's office as she told me that my situation was worsening and the twins would probably be born very early. Through the tears I asked her what the hospital would do if the twins were severely disabled and ventilator-dependent. She replied that since the NICU was in a Catholic Hospital, extraordinary measures would automatically be taken to kept their hearts beating and their lungs inflating, no matter what their brain and body function was. My husband and I would have no input. We staggered out to the car and drove home to the sofa, where I reclined for 10 more weeks, obsessively Googling birth stories of premature twins and wondering "why me, why us, why these babies?" and why God would let this happen. Why not just not let us go on without children?
Vicki Forman's twins were born and her daughter died several days later. Her son lived, with blindness, a seizure disorder, oxygen and feeding tube dependent and with at least a dozen other serious diagnoses. Her book talks about the first year after the twins' birth and her belief that she suffered from Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder.
I went to bed every night, until 36 weeks and 3 days and thanked God for one more day. Many of you prayed in your homes, in your towns and countries.
The other Vicki's story brings up so many intimate and private issues about life, what we, as parents choose for our children and how much our government should get involved in decisions that I believe should be left to the family and God. I do understand, though, the fear that some will make selfish decisions and that none of us can know how things will ultimately turn out. I treasure Martha Beck's book about deciding to continue her pregnancy after finding out that her baby would have DS. She delves into questions about quality of life and what really matters.
That is why I cried in the bookstore. I don't think I am ready to read the other Vicki's book, as I cry typing this...some day though, I will, because I think that we gain strength from other women's stories.
May God bless every woman who types "premature birth" into Google today and give her strength.