The joyful story of Rebecca, a child born with many of the same problems that are often used to excuse abortion.
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It is my pleasure to share the story of our daughter Rebecca, a story that took an unexpected turn in July, 1993, when I was almost five months pregnant. An ultrasound discovered that our baby had a large hole in her diaphragm and because of this her abdominal organs were moving into her chest cavity. The worst problem was that her left lung did not have room to develop and her heart was shifting to the right, a condition called a diaphragmatic hernia.
I will never forget that day when the doctors told us our baby had a severe defect. The baby I could feel moving inside of me, whose heart I could see beating on the ultrasound screen, whose legs I could see kicking, was considered very high risk. That day I cried many tears.
Then the doctors told us the options. Our options were these; we could have this baby at one of three area hospitals, all with different levels of machines available to care for our baby, or we could have an abortion. We only had a short time for an abortion in Illinois, or we would have to drive to Kansas for a later abortion.
So there they were- our options laid out before us, leaving us grieving over the present condition of our child and scared. For now we had no idea what was ahead for our baby and for us. But we were sure of one thing- we could not possibly end this child's life. After so much information was taken in, and so many questions were asked our thoughts shifted and we started to think about our baby and what she needed.
There is another life here. I can feel you move. I'm your provider. Your protector. What do you need? A mother who is upset, nervous and in tears at all hours? No, so thank you Lord for peace throughout the rest of my pregnancy. When reports came in sonogram, after sonogram, after sonogram, with no encouraging news, Thank you Lord, for peace.
We decided to give our daughter every possible chance at life, so when November came we packed our bags and drove to the Children's Hospital at St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria. There the most extensive machines were available to help the daughter we now called Rebecca.
She was about to be delivered when her heart rate dropped and she had to be taken by emergency c-section. The room I was in turned to chaos. There must have been fifteen people, each rushing to do their job. Thank you lord, again for peace. I didn't get to see or hold my baby on her birthday.
She was rushed to intensive care. My husband was with her though, and when my anesthesia wore off, he didn't tell me that she had a lung tube, three monitors, IVs, and oscillator. Instead he showed me a picture he had taken and told me how very cute she was.
The doctors had quite a time getting her stable so they could perform the needed surgery. Her good lung collapsed and she had to be resuscitated. Her oxygen level dropped several times and her blood pressure went up. 24 hours after she was born, the doctors knew she needed ECMO, a type of life support that would do the work of her lungs.
Oh, Rebecca, you can do it. Keep fighting, you're doing great. We love you and there is so much we want to show you outside this hospital. Your life is precious, Rebecca. All life is precious, our country needs a desperate reminder of this- that there is great value and worth in every human life, no matter the stage or condition.
During this time Rebecca had excellent doctors and nurses. They made sure she was comfortable. I remember her looking around, clasping our fingers, and sleeping a lot as all babies do. She did well on ECMO and at 5 days old, was stable enough to have surgery. The doctors explained the procedure, with all the risks. Then my husband and I went to be with our daughter until we had to leave the room It was the hardest moment of my life leaving that room; and surely the longest hours waiting for the surgery to be over.
Good news came though- she did well through surgery and the complications never occurred. .Over the next few weeks she fought to get off ECMO, then to be weaned from the ventilator- all major steps. When she was seventeen days old we got to hold her for the first time and when she was one month old she drank from a bottle for the first time. You see, babies fight for life!
Rebecca continued down the road to recovery until she was just on oxygen. One Friday, when she was almost two months old, Rebecca came home. The oxygen continued for another month. Now she lives a normal, healthy life- making us laugh with her singing and dancing, blessing us beyond words.
There are a lot of birth defects that can be corrected and we were constantly amazed at what medicine can do in this day. Unfortunately, not all babies can survive. Some babies born with a similar problem as our Rebecca only live a short time. To many, these babies? short lives may appear meaningless, but to those who love these children, their lives overflow with meaning.
If you hear anything that I've said, please hear this Life can be hard, but God is good. He loves you and wants to help you through your struggles.
In conclusion, I would like to answer a question Rebecca asked me as I tucked her in one night. She surprised me by saying "Mommy, when I get big can I be you?" Yes Rebecca, I will let you get big. I will let you have life and be whoever you want to be. Make your life count. I will let you choose life, because that choice, my child, was between you and your Maker, not me and my doctor.
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