By: Casey Zenner
They say everything happens for a reason, and this is something I try really hard to believe. September 27th, 2017 would be the day that would leave me questioning that forever. Growing up I always dreamed of having a large family, lots of little ones running around, in my messy, never quiet house. After getting pregnant with my son in 2015, that dream began to fade. I was diagnosed with a severe case of Hyperemesis Gravidarium (HG). After months of a PIIC line, 24/7 IV infusions, countless ER visits, and losing close to 40 pounds, I was blessed with a healthy, beautiful little boy. The last 39 weeks of life quickly became a blur. I swore my entire pregnancy I would never do it again, but once they laid him in my arms, I forgot about everything I had just endured and wanted to try again. Maybe, just maybe, the next time would be different, I wouldn’t get so sick.
Even if I was going to get sick, I survived it the first time, so I was confident if I were blessed enough to get pregnant again it would end the same way. Boy was I wrong. August of 2017, I found out I was pregnant with baby number 2, Avery.
We had moved from Colorado to Texas in between having our son and getting pregnant with Avery. Finding a new medical team is never an easy thing, especially when you have endured something traumatic like I did with HG. I struck gold. I said I try really hard to believe everything happens for a reason. Well, finding my OB is one of those things, that in the midst of my storm, I am so beyond thankful for. I know she was put in my life for a reason and that was to walk beside me on this journey. It is years later, and I still see her frequently to check in. She is the only physical connection I have left to the baby I would never bring home.
HG hit me with a vengeance again, but this time, we would have to make a decision no parent ever imagines having to make. We would have to decide to risk my life to try and get our baby here, or if we would terminate our pregnancy to ensure I would stay alive to mother our living son.
How do you make a decision when no option is a “good” one?
Losing a child is an incredibly difficult thing to experience. Having to make the decision to end your child’s life makes this already impossible journey a very isolating one. Abortion is one of those things that every person has an opinion about. It wasn’t until after facing this myself that I truly began to better understand the issue as a whole. Even when a mother’s health is at risk, the process takes 72 hours in Texas.
It wasn’t until I was required by law to listen to her heartbeat one last time in the clinic that I realized just how much I would rather die than say goodbye to her the way I did.
My husband wasn’t allowed back with me. I had to do this all on my own, while he sat in a waiting room worrying about me, unable to support me when I needed him the most.
The hardest part about this journey is that not only did I lose a child, but I am criticized daily for my decision to terminate.
I have lost friends and family members over our decision. I know some of the strongest women out there who still have not told the world their truth, even years later. They are silenced by the fear and backlash that they anticipate receiving because all people will hear is abortion. Imagine living your entire life hiding your truth. As a parent all we want to do is share our kids with the world, but these moms can’t even do that. There are those who make us feel like we are bad people for simply loving our children, for not wanting them to suffer. Or in my case for saving myself, as if my life doesn’t matter even though the odds of Avery surviving were slim to none.
After my termination I was desperate to find anyone and everyone who had been in my shoes, who had experienced what I had experienced because I felt so alone.
I had been called the most awful things, by people I thought were my friends. In the midst of my grief, I still had to find the strength to tend to my son. I needed to keep my promise to Avery, that I would be the best mom possible to Brayden since I was given a second chance at life. In the beginning, I managed to keep it together until after he would fall asleep. For months, I would cry myself to sleep, cursing at God- so angry and lost. The silence that echoes through my room after my son falls asleep is still a constant reminder of the empty hole in my heart.
Going through an experience like this shows you who truly cares. The website and Facebook group Ending A Wanted Pregnancy has been my saving grace. A group of 1,300 other moms who get it. They are in my shoes; they know what it was like to have to make this painstaking decision that forever altered our worlds. My OB has been my biggest blessing on this journey. She has been encouraging, understanding, and in it for the long haul. I am beyond grateful. She exudes empathy like I have never seen before, and every woman deserves someone like her in their corner on this journey.
Through all the ‘it’s not fair’ discussions I have had with her, the one thing I have learned is that as long as you have one person in your corner, the rest don’t matter. It has taken me two years to get to a point where I honestly don’t care what people think. This is my story, this is Avery’s story, and it deserves to be told. Those who have stood by my side from the beginning are the reason I am still standing today. It only takes one friend to: send you flowers, to celebrate an Angelversary with you, or to ask if you’re okay if they invite a friend who has a small baby to a function. While these may be small gestures to them, they are the biggest gestures to us and remind us that there is someone out there who cares.
I can never begin to understand why this happened to me, why this is the journey I am supposed to walk. But I am thankful it is my journey. While I would give anything to have Avery here safely in my arms and not have to wipe tears away from my sons innocent eyes because he misses his sister, the friends I have made along the way have changed my life.
Those who have also endured the loss of a child were friends I didn’t know I was missing but have now completed me. Meeting the parents of Avery’s friends while they look down upon us so proud to call us their parents, warms my heart. Avery reminds us daily she is here in different ways and continues to bring blessings to our lives. We have been blessed with a foster daughter, who will soon become our third child. My heart will always be broken, but there is a peace that has overcome me now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can focus on those who are supportive and accept that not every day is a good day. It’s okay to be sad.
– Avery’s Mom
About Casey Zenner
My name is Casey! I am a wife, mother and friend. I have 2 dogs, a wonderful husband and am blessed to be the mama of Brayden, my spunky 3 yr old, and Avery, my angel baby. We are also foster parents on our journey to adoption! I live in Texas, am a stay at home mom and a travel agent. After losing Avery, I lost myself. While I attempted to find my way back I founded Avery’s Angels. A non profit that provides Angel Moms with comfort packages and cards after the loss of a child. (www.facebook.com/flyhighlittleones) There is someone always telling me how strong I am, when the truth is, when being strong is the only choice you have, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually you begin to believe in your strength too.
These are controversial topics and many that people don’t realize other families face.
Share’s mission is to support those whose lives are touched by the tragic death of a baby through pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or in the first few months of life. Share does not take a political stand on these issues. Share is not responsible for guiding or counseling families in their decision-making process. We all grieve and mourn for our babies. Some of our parents have had to choose the day that they were going to lose their baby. But the truth is still: each family wanted and love their babies. We all search for support, healing and hope. All grieving parents deserve that.
As a support organization it is always our goal to provide a safe and compassionate place for every family who has suffered the great loss of their baby.
We hope this conversation allows for continued healing and an understanding from others of the great need for long-term support for every family making difficult decisions. If you are in need of support after making the decision to terminate for medical reasons, please reach out to our Bereavement Care Manager at email@example.com or call 800-821-6819.