Annie's Kansas Story

Diagnosis: Chromosome 18 deletion syndrome

By Annie

I am writing my story a little over 5 years since I've been to Kansas, and 2 days after the murder of Dr. Tiller. I am so sad, so disheartened. I am sad for all the women who would have needed him. He was one of the only people I could have turned to in the whole country. I too, like the women in the other stories, terminated my pregnancy during the third trimester.

It wasn't until my Level II ultrasound that the Dr. discovered fluid around the baby's heart. (We chose to not find out that sex of the baby.) The Dr. said it could be "nothing" and that we'd check back in a week. After a couple of rechecks to discover the level of the fluid had not decreased, I was sent to see a specialist in one of the best hospitals in the country, Johns Hopkins. After an echo test, it was determined that the flow of blood looked normal. The next step would be an amnio test.

At this point I was nearing 25 weeks. The whole time, I wasn't really worried of finding anything wrong with the baby; I figured nothing bad would come of this. Then we got the results. I was blindsided with the information, that my baby was missing the 18th chromosome; the odds were 1 in 400,000. Since it was so rare, the doctors didn't have any concrete information on what could be wrong with my baby but some things on the list were severe autism, severe retardation, a tendency towards violence, bodily malformations, heart problems. The doctor gave us our options and we spent a few days grappling with the dire situation presented to us.

One can only imagine the fights that go on in your mind when trying to come to a decision such as this. How can you end a pregnancy you were so excited for? Maybe the symptoms would be at the milder end of the spectrum? What kind of life would this child have? Would it be fair to give them that life when we knew ahead of time and had a choice? The questions you ask yourself go on and on. And the hard part was that everyone left the decision entirely up to me; they would support me either way. I almost wanted the decision to be made for me. Ultimately, we decided to terminate. We called the doctor and told him of our decision, at which point I asked for him to tell me the baby's sex. The giddy feeling of surprise and anticipation was over.

The moment I stepped into the clinic and met the other women I would share the week with, I felt a sense of comfort and peace that I had made the right decision. Dr. Tiller was such a kind and gentle man. I feel like I went through the week a little emotionally disconnected. I couldn't think too much of what was happening, it was just too sad. Not regretful, just sad that it was ending. The clinic handled matters with such care and professionalism. I am grateful to have left with a receiving blanket, hand and foot prints, pictures, and later, the ashes.

At first I brought out my special box of mementos quite often, but now I find myself pulling it out on the anniversary. I'll never forget the overwhelming feeling of grief as the plane took off the runway as we headed home. I felt as though I was leaving my daughter behind. It was then that I really let loose and had a good cry. I planted her ashes with a rose bush, and every time it blooms I think of Angeline and how she's in heaven, waiting to finally meet me.

Since then, I have been remarried and have two beautiful children, a girl and a boy. Each time, at the ultrasounds I held my breath until we got the all clear. I feel very blessed.

Dr. Tiller was a brave soul, and I thank God I was given the opportunity to meet him. He will be greatly missed.


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