On Tuesday morning my wife and I (and both of her parents, and my mom) all crammed ourselves into an ultrasound room at the local clinic. About ten minutes into the ultrasound session our technician announced that she was having a technical problem and excused herself from the room. She returned about ten minutes later with a doctor who regretfully informed us that our baby had no heartbeat and was dead.
The next morning my wife and I walked into the birthing center at our hospital, and after about eighteen hours my wife had given birth to a “fetus” which had survived to about seventeen weeks gestation before dying due to a knotted umbilical cord. It’s one of those things that happen, just a “luck of the draw” sort of thing, and absolutely not preventable.
After the birth was completed the doctor and nurses left us alone with our baby.
At first neither of us wanted to hold the little angel. He had been dead in the womb for possibly as long as three weeks and we were afraid of what we would see. But after about a half hour our hearts were breaking and he was just on the other side of the room, so we decided to hold him. Here’s what we saw.
A face…eyes, nose, mouth.
A well-formed head…with hair.
A thin and damaged body, but one with arms, legs, hands, feet, ten perfect little fingers, and ten perfect little toes.
Today (Saturday) my wife was out and about in the neighborhood and saw a car cruising along the boulevard sporting a pro-choice bumper sticker. She tells me that she barely resisted the temptation to use her minivan as a weapon. I can’t say that I would have demonstrated such restraint.
That perfect little 5.6 ounce, 8-inch long baby of ours illustrated something to me, something I have always believed but could never state with authority. Now I can. Unborn babies are people. They aren’t just a collection of undifferentiated cells waiting for the touch of biological magic to turn them into humans; they are helpless little human beings with the capacity to live a life as long as they are given the opportunity. They are loved by God and they should be loved by their parents. And no doctor ever ought to do to an unborn baby what unlucky chance did to ours.
Thanks for reading.