About a month ago, a leader from our chapter Medina County Right to Life told me about a local couple who were told to selectively abort or “reduce” their pregnancy by two or three children. Leann Alferio, the mother, was carrying quintuplets.
Medina County Right to Life put me in touch with Leann who told me her inspirational story about resisting this recommendation, and seeing all five of her babies through to birth.
One thing was clear about her story: The pregnancy was troublesome–but mostly because of the terror that ran through Leann and her husband, Jacob, during their very first ultrasound appointment. This terror came with just a few words from the doctor: “Leann, this is bad–really bad.”
On her blog, Leann recounts:
I obviously thought the worst…there wasn’t a heartbeat, I wasn’t actually pregnant, I had miscarried…in the few seconds of silence that followed her words my mind raced with all the possibilities of what could have gone wrong.
“There are 5” she said.
I don’t think i completely understood what she meant by that until she was several minutes into her spiel about how a woman’s body is not intended to carry five babies. She warned us of the risks of mental retardation, cerebral palsy, premature birth, and all the other possibilities that expecting parents never want to hear. She left us with the recommendation to look into fetal reduction and take it into serious consideration.
As disheartening as this appointment was, Leann and Jacob followed through the pregnancy with both determination and faith:
Before we had even gotten to the car after leaving the appointment we had both decided-without any doubt or debate–we were keeping all five. Although the medical field may call it fetal reduction, we saw it as abortion. God had given us five for a reason and we did not feel it was our position to choose which ones would survive and which ones would not. If nature believes that five fetuses are too many for a woman to carry then it will take care of that problem on its own. Otherwise, we were preparing for an emotionally challenging road ahead but knew that as long as we had each other we could do it! We considered them each to be a blessing.
Despite her determination, Leann went to each following appointment terrified. Though she changed doctors and her body handled the pregnancy well, she consistently had high blood pressure because of the stress inflicted by her first appointment.
The support of her family and friends throughout her pregnancy enabled the couple to stay positive throughout their pregnancy. Today, the quintuplets, Kensley, Brooklynn, Leighton, Giovanni, and Jade, are thriving. The Alferios can’t imagine life without any single one of them.
Leann recognizes that her doctor had a duty to tell her about the risks of carrying quintuplets. But the insistence on the down side of this pregnancy seems to have been the source of her stress throughout her pregnancy.
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While we always have to have compassion for the women and physicians who are in the position of trying to preserve the life of the mother, I think that there’s something to be said for the constant struggle of the medical field to improve practices so that both the lives of the mother and the child can be saved. That’s what the history of the cesarean section is all about.
Stories like Leann’s provide hope for a better, more ethical medical history that strives to protect all life in the most difficult of circumstances.
To read more about Leann’s story, click here.