Canadian parents Stefanie and Adam Wahl could not see the compassion in aborting their dying unborn baby girl.
Rather than cut her life even shorter, the Wahls chose to treasure the short time they had with their daughter, Samantha Rose.
The Evewoman blog reports doctors first detected a problem during Stefanie’s 20-week ultrasound. Later, they determined that her unborn baby girl had Patau’s syndrome, or Trisomy 13, a rare genetic disorder that causes severe physical abnormalities. The disorder is fatal in most cases, with eight out of 10 babies dying within a month of birth, according to the National Institute of Health.
“When we found out it was likely trisomy 13, I was floored,” Stefanie said. “That was worse than worst case scenario for me, I had never even thought it could be something chromosomal, the odds are so low for a healthy young female.
“When we found out it was a little girl, though, that’s when it became real, and I broke down crying. I didn’t have much of a reaction until then, but finding out her gender made it real, and gutted me.”
On the way home from their second ultrasound, the Wahls decided to name their daughter Samantha Rose.
Some babies with less severe abnormalities often are candidates for heart surgery, but doctors said Samantha’s condition was too severe. Preparing the Wahls for the worst, doctors said the unborn baby girl probably would not have the capability to breathe when she was born.
“Of course, we knew that the day we would meet her would also be the day we would likely say goodbye,” Stefanie told the Mirror.
Here’s more from the report:
Describing the extent of Samantha’s health issues, Stefanie says:
“She had alobar holoprosencephaly (when the forebrain fails to develop into two hemispheres), the worst form, and was missing most of her cerebrum.
“She had an omphalocele, which means she had a sac of organs outside of her body. A wide cleft, and missing nose.
“She had extra toes, and her eyes looked to be missing or not formed correctly. She would either very likely be stillborn, or at most live a few days after birth.”
As frequently happens in such cases, two different medical professionals both suggested that Stefanie abort their unborn daughter. She refused. She and her husband said they never once considered aborting their baby girl.
“People say they abort to spare their baby future suffering; that is simply not factual, if I can be blunt for a minute. Abortions cause pain, period,” the young mother said. “Being held and kissed and loved by your family as you die is a much more kind and comfortable way to go.
“I was happy to hang onto my little girl for as long as she was happy to be with us. It’s the least I could do, as her mother,” Stefanie continued.
At 36 weeks, Stefanie was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, a potentially life-threatening condition, and doctors decided to induce her. But the news was even more troubling for the family, who thought they still had a month to spend with their daughter before she was born.
“The moment I first saw her, I’m not sure if the room actually became quiet, or if I blocked out the sounds, but I just remember a hush,” Stefanie said.
She immediately knew that her daughter would not live much longer. Little Samantha Rose died three days later, but the Wahls said they would not exchange those bittersweet days for anything.
Stefanie said she will cherish forever the brief moments when she got to hold Samantha, smell her baby scent and kiss her soft little face.
“Every life is significant, no matter how difficult or short,” she said. “She was very much our daughter, and though we didn’t get to keep her very long, she’s left a hole in our family. Meeting her took away all the anxiety and grief I felt being pregnant. She was so lovely, and I have so much joy over meeting her.”
“She very obviously wanted to stick around. Who would we be to have denied her life and not given her that chance to meet and be loved by her family?” Stefanie said.