Written by Tess Duffy
It was mid January 2021 and we had the 12 week ultrasound. Walking out my husband exclaimed “it’s another boy. I just know it. I saw the bits”. I said “mmmhmm, we shall see” and off we went. The next day I got a phone call from our GP saying I had to come in ASAP. Anthony finished work early and off we went. Our GP was beside himself. He said “I’ve never seen this in 20 years. I’ve done some research. Basically there’s a 90% chance baby will be fine after initial NICU stay. There’s a 7% chance there will be further complications and a 3% chance the baby won’t make it” *big breath* now. Did you want me to organise a termination?”
Our precious little baby had Gastrochisis and Bilateral Talipes. The “bits” Anthony had seen on the ultrasound were not boy bits, but instead the bowel that was floating around the amniotic fluid.
Anthony and I looked at each other, and we said “no, we’ll take the 97% chance thanks”. Our care was transferred to the Royal Hospital for Women and every fortnight I would travel from Forbes, Western NSW to Randwick for an appointment. At each appointment the comment would be made “Now, are you sure you want to go through with this?? This baby is really going to struggle”. Each time I would say yes – I do want to go through with this?? This happens to be a human life and it is my baby!
Sometimes discussions would be quite heated between the neonatal specialist and myself because we would then decline invasive testing, and I remember walking out one day, bursting into tears in the car and thinking “I can now understand why women feel so pressured to get an abortion, and why they feel like they have no other option”. There is absolutely no mental support or help offered from the medical profession, just the continual pressure to abort, and then there is that imposition of guilt; “am I doing the right thing?”.
Our precious little girl, Eleanor Mary was born at 1333 on the 30/6/2021. She was baptised by Anthony minutes after birth and went into surgery at 2 hours old. She was in Bed 13 in Level 3 NICU followed by Bed 23 in Level 2. God has truly been with her since the moment she was born.
Eleanor landed in the 7% of “further complications”. The path thus far has certainly not been easy, however I am now convinced that these children have a direct pathway to God. They are sent to help get us to heaven, rather than the usual view of parenthood of us helping them get to heaven.
Through the endless scans, the traumatic birth, the NICU stays, the endless hospital admissions, the pumping and the long dark nights there is so much opportunity for grace, for prayers, for hope and most of all to trust in God’s plan!
Eleanor is a living breathing example of strength, resilience, persistence and most importantly, the reminder that each life is an individual precious gift from God.
Every functioning society needs people who are medically complex. They teach inclusion (such a misused word today), they bring communities together and they bring families closer. These children are incredibly talented and are so important!
By choosing life, know that what you have done is the most incredible choice you will ever make, and your life will be full of blessings because of it! And if you are being pressured, just ask “what makes your life so perfect that you feel you have a right to deem another life unworthy?”