Over twenty years ago my daughter was born. The pregnancy was very difficult. My wife had to lay on her left side for several weeks prior to delivery (her blood pressure was very high and it was slightly lower when she was on her left side). At one point the doctor mentioned that abortion was a possibility, but it neither one of us wanted to consider that.
My daughter was born nine weeks early by ceasarean section and weighed just a little more than two pounds. I was not (and am not) an expert on fetal development, but I was surprised to see how normal the delivery was–the doctor lifted the baby up by her legs, spanked her once, and she started crying. I had imagined some sort of “pre-baby,” something that did not quite seem alive or ready. What I saw was a little person who was just like a full term baby only smaller.
Of course, another difference with a full term baby is that premies (premature babies) have trouble retaining body heat. My daughter had to be kept in an incubator for a month before she could come home with us. Fortunately, the hospital was just across the street from where I worked and I could go visit her during lunch. She could almost wrap her hand around my little finger. In a way I felt that parents of full term babies missed out. They didn’t get to see their children when they were very small.
Unfortunately, the problems that led to our daughter’s early delivery made a second pregnancy a dangerous prospect, and so we sought to adopt. People’s experience with adoption is not uniform, but in our case it was a grueling ten year process. We were judged and tested in so many ways, many of them (I think) arbitrary and unfair. We had heart-wrenching near misses and one person tried to con us. In the end, though, we finally got our son. Unlike a pregnancy in which things slowly develop and you have time to prepare, the adoption was more like ten years of hopelessness followed by sudden joy. I think it was about a week from when we found out there was a baby to when we took him home.
Our son’s birth mother has a number of problems (and we don’t know all of them), but she has some level of faith. She did not consider abortion, and she asked that her baby be placed in a Catholic home.
I am grateful to my wife and the woman who carried our son to term, whoever she is. May God bless them and all the mothers who choose life.