Before reading this post, please note that this is a sensitive topic for many. It is not meant to take any sort of political stance on the issue. However, I felt compelled to share with you how this topic has shaped my life.
“I wasn’t going to tell you this, but since your biography will soon be published, this is something you must know.” My mom and I were sitting face-to-face on my parents’ living room couch as she continued, “When I was pregnant with you, the doctors scheduled for me to have an abortion.”
My mom and I are best friends. We tell each other every little secret. I couldn’t imagine that she would have kept anything from me. I was 25 when she revealed this startling news to me. I could tell by her expression that she was concerned I would be devastated by this revelation.
I was not upset at all. Instead, I felt an overwhelming sense of respect for my mom and all that she has been through. I tried to put myself in her shoes. At the time of her pregnancy with me, she was married, 26-years-old, and had a 6-year-old son. Her mother had died 6 months previously, from PKD. My mom and her son had PKD and neither she nor my dad wanted to pass this terrible condition on to another child.
I intently listened to my mom as she took me back in time to relive this very critical part of my existence. She told me that her gynecologist suggested that she have an abortion. She knew that abortions were illegal at the time, but her doctor assured her it would be considered a “medical necessity” and would be approved. I followed her downstairs where we now sat in front of my lavender toy chest from when I was a little girl. She opened it and pointed to a pink piece of paper that was hidden under some family photo albums. That pink document was the paperwork for the appointment made to terminate her pregnancy.
We sat cross-legged on the floor as she told me that in the brief period before the scheduled date, she wasn’t sure that having an abortion was the right decision. She then shared a profound story: One day, before her scheduled appointment while taking a walk near her apartment, my mom spotted a woman pushing a little girl in a carriage along the sidewalk. She stared at the little girl in the carriage. The woman(who she assumed was the child’s mother)never looked at her, but the little girl continued to glare at my mom with a penetrating look. They were across the street from her but as she passed by, the little girl and my mom continued to stare at each other, not breaking eye contact for one second. She knew immediately those beautiful little eyes were telling her to have the baby.
The next day, my father drove her to York Hospital where the procedure would take place. Mom was still undecided and very conflicted. They sat in the car in the parking lot for a long time, talking. Finally my dad told her: “You don’t have to have this abortion if you don’t want to.” That’s all my mom needed to hear. She told me that she was so happy and relieved and that today they are both thankful for making the right decision to bring their second child into this world.
The story of the little girl in the stroller is so powerful because it puts into perspective the impact one person can make on someone else’s life, without even speaking. At the time, my parents were not sure it was the right thing to bring me into this world. I suspect my mom was looking for a reason to make the decision to have me, and the baby in the stroller was the answer. But how many things could have happened differently? What if the mother had been there 10 minutes earlier or later? What if she had walked faster or slower? What if the baby was asleep and never made eye contact with my mom? I think it was a test to make my parents sure that they wanted me because of how they would be tested later in life. They committed themselves to raising me to become the woman I am today: Independent. Strong. Loyal. And a real fighting spirit!
This was the first of many tests for my parents, but was by no means the last. I am so proud of my parents and thankful that they brought me into this world and I live each day to make them proud!
I was fascinated by this news and very proud of my mom for being so strong. I had lived a quarter century, oblivious to the fact that my life was so close to being ended, even before my eyes saw the world outside of my mother. I find it quite intriguing–but not surprising– that I was fighting for my life even before I was born. I believe this helped to shape me into the fighter that I am today. The fighter that says ‘PKD Will Not Beat Me.’