One year ago, Eric Porteous lost his son and almost his wife, Alissa, to a partial molar pregnancy. According to the Mayo Clinic, a partial molar pregnancy occurs when an abnormal embryo and possibly some normal placental tissue begins to develop but is malformed.
When the couple first found out the news, they didn’t know what it meant. Then their doctor explained it. He said, “At conception, 2 sperm fertilized 1 egg and in the separating into twins, 3 full sets of chromosomes went to the baby, and 1 set went to the placenta. So the placenta thinks it is a baby, and it is making you so very sick. And your baby is very sick as well.”
Before thinking through what they would do next, they wanted to confirm the molar pregnancy with other doctors. They thought the worst possible scenario was that Alissa would have to go on bed rest. However, they quickly found out that not only was their baby’s life in jeopardy, so was Alissa’s.
He said, “My stomach was in knots as we drove to the hospital. It’s amazing I didn’t throw up. We arrived at Good Samaritan Hospital and were immediately brought to our room in Labor and Delivery. Our nurse took great care of us, and it wasn’t long until the first doctor arrived. He reiterated everything we just heard from the Perinatal Doctor and told us they needed to confirm through a blood test everything they saw on the ultrasound.
The blood test confirmed the worst. And then he told us something I never thought I’d hear another human being tell us. The only way to save Alissa’s life, was to terminate the pregnancy.”
This was devastating news but abortion was unthinkable. Eric said, “Alissa and I have been Catholic and pro-life for our entire lives. During my years as a youth minister, I taught high school teens what it meant to stand for life in all its stages. But I never thought, for one second, that I would ever be confronted with that decision myself. But here we were. Alissa’s life in danger. Faced with the ultimate decision.”
Despite the circumstances, Eric and Alissa agreed that no matter what happened, they were not going to have an abortion. Then they asked their doctor’s for another option. The doctors said there was one more option; they could induce labor so their baby would die a natural death. Eric and Alissa decided this was what they wanted to do, even though it was a much riskier option. Thankfully, their doctors respected their wishes and they never felt pressured one way or another.
Eric said, “…As a husband, I couldn’t say enough about the care we received, both physically and emotionally. In fact, our first nurse told us that had we chosen to abort, she would’ve had to dismiss herself. That’s the kind of faith we need from our doctors and nurse.”
Soon after their decision, doctors came in to begin the induction. It was painful for Alissa but everything went normally until a part of her bag of water slipped out. Eric said, “The doctors came in and urged her to push, and her bag of waters broke, giving her a huge sense of relief. A few minutes later, while waiting for an epidural, they started doing an Echo Cardiogram on Alissa to make sure her heart was doing ok. As I sat there by her side, she was having contractions. They completed the Echo, and she said she felt like a huge amount of fluid was being lost. I got the attention of the doctors who were just outside the room. One doctor came in, lifted the blanket, and there was blood everywhere.”
He continued, “The tone of the room changed instantly. Alissa was bleeding out. And there were probably at least 10 doctors and multiple nurses in our room immediately. They began to wheel her out of the room and told me that I wasn’t able to go with her. The nurses had me kiss Alissa one last time, just in case. As someone who hates the unknown, I asked, how long this would take. They said it would be 30 minutes.”
Thankfully, Alissa survived and after she delivered, they were able to meet their son. They named him Gabriel and spent time holding him and taking pictures. Eric concluded, “It’s been a year now since the day I lost my son and almost lost my wife. I wish I could say it’s been an easy year, but it hasn’t. I think about our experience often and probably will for the rest of my life. The memories are so vivid, and I feel like I left so much emotion at the hospital that day. But I am grateful to God for the blessing that Gabriel Joseph has been to our lives. And while we have been and always will be pro-life, He gave us a new appreciation for what that means. We only hope that our story can inspire others to feel the same.”