Monday, August 3, 2015

I could have had a third trimester abortion.

I haven't written a blog lately. In light of all that is going on with Planned Parenthood, I couldn't sit back anymore. I'm not "in the know" about all things abortion. But I will assume I know more than the average Joe. The more I find out the scarier it becomes. Planned Parenthood isn't the only abortion provider out there. And my heart skips a beat with each one I find to add to the list. 

It's been three and a half years since I had a decision to make. Three and a half years later, and it's all still sinking in. Back then I was just a regular pro-life Christian church goer. Someone who couldn't start to imagine having an abortion. It didn't apply to me. I was married and trying to conceive. I loved my children. And abortions were just for unmarried, young, promiscuous women and rape victims. I didn't see how it affected me, so I didn't have much thought about it all.

Our Story: Excited to have our third child, we entered the 20 week ultrasound (Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012) with courage not to find out if our baby is a girl or boy. And always in hopes that any child we have is healthy, first and foremost. We have one of each already and felt prepared for holding to our decision not to find out. The ultrasound tech was excited for us and started as normal. In just the first couple of minutes, the tech had to leave the room. She didn't say much, if anything at all to us on why she was leaving. More like, "be right back." 1-2 minutes pass and we know whatever it is, it isn't going to be good news. a few more minutes pass, and a nurse comes to check on us. At this point we've already started to worry and cry. She asked if we were okay. Not knowing what she knew I laughed it off and said, "not really, she (the tech) left a while  ago and as long as she comes back without the doctor..." She was sweet enough to lie and said there were "computer problems, she'll be right back", before she left the room.

At this point, knowing down syndrome is in our family, I told my husband, "I'll be relieved if she says DS. Anything else will be hard." We have many friends through church who have beautiful down syndrome babies with such life and character. On the other hand, I've heard so many stories of other conditions that aren't so happy ending. One very recent story, but the parents have so much faith in God, that it gives others hope.

Couple more minutes (probably at least 10 in total after the tech left) she came back with our doctor. The news isn't good, as the doctor starts telling us about Anencephaly. She then asked if we had heard anything about it before. This is where I start realizing that God has already started to prepare my heart. Just the day before, while my daughter was at school, I was doing laundry in front of the TV with my son in my bedroom. On TLC's "A Baby Story", there was a woman who mentioned this condition with her child, but was having a second child afterward, which was the birth story they were filming. Obviously I wasn't thinking anything about it then, but took peace in the fact that I knew what the outcome could be before the doctor had to explain it to me.

Anencephaly, in my terms, is the lack of development of the baby's skull and the under development of the brain. Doctors told us straight up, fatal. Later we will find out that there are some very rare case, of young children still alive with this condition. 

So to double check what the first tech was showing our doctor, she sent us to a specialist to confirm. At the specialist is where we decided we were finding out if the baby was a boy or girl. We needed some good news to hold on to.

SHE'S A GIRL! Kendall Mackenzie!

My mom was showing up by this time for support, and we went back to my doctor to talk about what our next steps are. She gave us all OUR OPTIONS and answered our questions we could think of off the bat. At this point we had already had time for some crying, maybe some shock, and strength to hold back some tears when needed. My doctor has been great and has stretched her arms out for us and has let us know that we can get in touch with her for anything at anytime. Many doctors don't even give their patients all the info, but encourage them to terminate. 

On the way home I think of another question I didn't ask, which was if organ donation was a possibility. I called her back when we got home. She said she hadn't seen first hand too many of these, and she needed to call around to find the answer for us. She returned my call and confirmed that it was a possibility, if all her other organs grow correctly at full term. This gave me more of a peace. If our out come turns out the way it is expected, then we can have the opportunity to maybe save another child's life.

Still in shock, we were not able to process what OUR OPTIONS really meant at this point. I could verbalize them out loud, but my brain and my heart through my faith in God could not feel the depth of what it all meant. They could terminate the pregnancy almost immediately, be induced any time before full term, or go full term. I even asked the doctor what would happen if "the pregnancy" was "terminated".  And she explained that there were two ways to go about it. It is painful to even type this. To know that I even asked. I was concerned with my own health and fully trusting a doctor to give me instructions that some doctors don't even educate their patients on. She said I could be induced, knowing that my child couldn't live at that gestation, even if healthy. Or the amniotic sac could be injected with a fatal liquid, stopping the heart beat before a still birth. She gave us the weekend to think things over. 

As soon as we get home, we have our family flooding our house with love. And the first thing we want to do is call our Pastor. I knew from a previous spot in my family's life, that our old pastor was at our side through some tough roads when my grandfather was sick in the hospital and about to pass away. It was comforting to know that he and the church would really be there for our family, and I knew that is what we needed this time. Our pastor came straight over and gave us words of wisdom and strength as best as he could. He had never been in a situation like this before. The family prayed over us with him. He gave us his love and spoke with us about possible future funeral preparations. Never thought I would be asking those questions at 28 years old.

That night, the kids came home and my husband and I were somber about talking about our decisions we had to make. My mom spent the night and helped with the kids the next day before taking them to her house for the weekend. This is allowing us to grieve, talk, and pray before getting back on a normal schedule next week.

Thursday night we slept 3-4 hours, and were wide awake afterwards. I decided to get up and finally felt able to do a little research on the internet. This is when my heart started to know what we had to do. And after some emails of encouragement from friends, then talking with with my husband, we knew that carrying our baby girl full term was the only way to go. And the only way we would be able to spend as much quality time with her as possible. And to give God the time for an opportunity for a miracle. 

I carried Kendall another 16 weeks. I would have kept going but I developed polyhydramnios. She was born alive and gave us just enough time to meet her and say goodbye. She had life. And that life, even before birth, had meaning and value. She taught us a love that transcends all else. She helped us see a community of people gathered around us, that poured their love into us. And we learned a new depth of the love of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, sent to die so that we may have life. The miracle of Kendall's healing didn't happen here on Earth, but their were many other miracles through this hardship. And for that we became grateful. The day I dreaded the most, turned into the day I wish I could do over and over. 

What's changed over the last three and a half years that I didn't learn right away? Compassion, learning how to have a deeper love for people, being involved in online support groups that have many different view points, and learning what needs to change for others to full understand the scope of what happens "out there" and how these things affect them and the people around them. 

The weeks right before the Planned Parenthood videos started to come out, the nation was focused on race and sexual orientation, and how #livesmatters. All of that feeds into ending abortion and standing up for the unborn. Stopping genocide and human trafficking. And just having a genuine love for mankind. 

It's not about healthcare, our "rights", or our broken hearts. It's about a love worth fighting for. A love that teaches us beyond what our brains can imagine. For me, my faith plays a big role, but I understand that not all that have this decision to make have faith in God. Mothers who love their families and children want to protect. They think ending their pregnancy is protecting their unborn from the possible pain of dying, protecting themselves and families from pain of losing a child later. Then they are left alone in their silence. The silence of having an abortion and being afraid to tell someone; to be judged. The silence of the grief they still will have, from a child they wanted to love. And that creates fear.

Perfect love cast out fear. When we genuinely love, we choose life. Some would say Kendall, being "incompatible with life", that her time in the womb isn't a good enough life. And that she would have put us through misery. There are groups trying to change this terminology, as we show value in the amazing lives of these children and how they could change the world. It's starts with one unborn child. Who changes the heart of one mother, one father, one sister, one brother. A family and friends, a community that opens their eyes and then their hearts to the people around them. And the reach out in love for someone else who needs to be loved to continue on with their life. 

Being pro-life now has opened us up to showing our love to another family through adoption. Being pro-life isn't about just being "pro baby". It's about caring for the mother. It's about protecting a mother from the after effects of abortion. It's about taking back lives lost through rape and protecting lives against trafficking. It's also about talking about suicide and helping the elderly and homeless.

Don't create more fear. Choose life. Choose to love, be love and accept love. Lets not be silent. I have more life and understand life better, because I didn't choose to have an abortion. It takes a community. 

#endabortion #defundpp #chooselife #chooselove #lovematters #prolife #adopt

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Once a mother and father find out their unborn child will die, there are two things that could happen.

1) Discouragement- She is given a skewed bias opinion on what could happen to her and her health. Which leads to more worry than calmness. And gives family and friends the wrong words to build up the mother and father. To give up, accept defeat, having to hide from life...


2) Encouragement- with more information about the joys this child could still bring to a family's life, trying to be unbiased and letting the parents choose their course from the heart, parents can fill empowered to face life's most feared thing and turn it into the moment they could live over and over. In death, there is still life and a love that gives hope for the future.

In October I got to speak with a mom who just found out her baby had anencephaly. This is our conversation: (excuse the short hand type)

Mom: Hi Stephanie, Thanks for getting back to me. I am struggling so much with this. I feel like everyone around me are worried about my health and future fertility, while I sit here thinking of my son. He deserved whatever time God has given him. People around me, mainly my dr but now that others have heard the health risk more, are concerned with the what ifs. My dr has mentioned the increased risk of a c section, which as I have 3 angel babies but no children at home they are worried about when I would be able to try again, dr says 1 year. I've also been told that due to the possibility of excess fluid, there is an increased risk of complications leading to a hysterectomy. Everyone is worried about all the risks and I get it, but I am worried about my son. I worry about him suffering. I also worry about residual guilt that would come with ending his life early. I felt peace with carrying to term but there are so many putting pressure on me through risks to choose to induce. It makes my heart sick to go through all of this and the back and forth pull.

My Reply:
There are plenty of risk in termination as well. I don't know all the medical stuff, but I have a friend who is a huge pro lifer and told me that termination can lead to breast cancer. Not to mention the guilt, sudden loss, grief. You will have loss and grief carrying to term as well, but they are different. It's in God's timing and you are giving Him the chance of beautiful miracles. Not just healing your child, but life transformations that you will never know of it you don't see through to the end. Your body is God's and He will take care of you when you trust in Him. This song (I Will Carry You) got me through the tough days. God has chosen us for this path. To love Him by loving our child. To show us that He knows how hard it is to lose a Child, Jesus. And when we give all our trust over to Him, we gain a Love that is so powerful! It's indescribable!

She followed up with this in April:
Mom: I wanted to thank you for your support as I made the decision to carry our little Matthew to term. He was born 2/18 and spent four amazing hours with us. Thank you.

My reply:
I tried sending you a message on my phone and it wouldn't go through, so sorry that it took me a while to get to a computer. Thank you for messaging me and giving an update. Congrats on being a wonderful mother and being able to love on your child. I will continue to pray for you and your family. Big hugs!

Mom: Thank you. We are healing slowly and appreciate the prayers. Those four hours were the most incredible hours of my life.

"Those four hours were the most incredible hours of my life."

I am so honored, even though our conversation was short in October that she took the time to message me back six months later.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Stewart Family: Baby Wyatt

Wyatt: Little Warrior.

Wyatt's mom, Miranda, unfortunately had high blood pressure and needed to have a c-section at the end of the second trimester.

I was standing in my kitchen cooking dinner for the family. Kirk was driving home from work, when I got the call. It was about 5:30pm., and the c-section was happening at 6:30pm.

Miranda had asked for something to do with pandas and special quote she liked. Since Wyatt wasn't due for another 2 1/2 months, I hadn't finished the canvas, but I had thankfully had it cut out ready to go.

I had called Kirk to warn him I was leaving the house when he got home. I finished cooking and eating a little for myself and grabbed the KKF tote cart to pack in the car. And soon was in the car, thankfully against traffic, to arrive at the hospital in good timing.

I could feel God's presences in the hospital that night. Maybe it also had to do with my comfort level knowing the hospital and the more "work" I'd done with KKF. Each family is different. The Stewart family that was able to be there at the moments notice, wasn't many people. But it was who those people were that made Wyatt's birthday special.

Wyatt's dad, Jason, was hours from leaving back on the road for work, but decided to stay home before he knew his son would be born that night. God was watching over.

Their older kids were being watched by Grandma and Grandpa, when I stepped in. They were very welcoming. I quickly became the entertainment for the panda loving family, by providing coloring projects and teaching them how to draw pandas for their little brother. As I finished us my panda canvas, Wyatt and family met in the room next door.

Wyatt lived a remarkable 2 hours and 40mins at just 28 weeks. That time gave their family some huge smiles and some laughs. They even said he cried at birth and grabbed his daddy's fingers so tight that his fingers turned white.

After the canvas was finished, we (myself and the Be Not Afraid team) also did some molds, prints, and Christmas ornaments.

Before leaving a minister came in to baptize Wyatt. It was Wyatt, Miranda, Jason and Miranda's parents left, as well as me and the Be Not Afraid (2). The minister kept looking at us all and calling us family. We smiled. Even though three of us weren't blood related, those there to share in a moment like that become family. Wyatt and all our other babies in Heaven link us to this sisterhood/motherhood/fatherhood that can never be known by anyone else.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Two More Families

June 28, 2013- Ruth is a mom off an anencephaly board I chat on. I was connected with her and since she is in another state, made a small canvas for her baby Evan and shipped it off for her baby's footprints to be added by her hospital staff.

July 11, 2013- The Young family had 2 healthy children, one anecephalic baby, was robbed of many memories and had a healthy baby #4 on the way. But since early in her pregnancy she was low on fluid and had many contractions and with the worry of losing another child prayed she could make it as far as they could. After her doctor appt at 37 weeks, I got the go ahead to meet them at the hospital the next day. A healthy baby was delivered and doing well. I was thankful that KKF could be apart of their day and provide a canvas that included memories of the whole family! The dad is in the army... 2 Timothy 2:3 and Joshua 5:15

It's interesting to me that my first three families all had boys with anencephaly. Not the anen. part b/c that is where we all first met, but that they were boys. Most anen. babies seem to be girls, although boys can get it too. I don't have the statistics right now. I don't have any "waiting" families as of yet. We haven't seent out many of our brochures yet, but soon.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

And The New Journey Starts...

The past year brought so many changes to our lives. And after Kendall was born, we decided to give back to others. More on that story can be found on our website and old journal.

Today was KKF's first time out in action. I (Stephanie) went by myself this first time, but plan on having helping hands on future projects.

I came to be friends with Lauren through our FB anencephaly support group. And I was honored to be welcomed at Baby Ethan's birth today and help out with the many molds she packed, as well as provide custom art from KKF. I think there were also at least 8 Bibles we put prints in as well.

I'm thankful for Tracy with Be Not Afraid for being the family's liaison. We had actually spoken to each other while I was pregnant with Kendall, but we had never met. I also had the pleasure of meeting another anencephaly mom, which flew in from Michigan to be a supportive friend. With all hands on deck, we formed an assembly line to get all the pieces finished. 

"God moment" for me during the day: After a family member learned Ethan was born at 1:15, she recalled having some chills about that time. I hadn't known the birth time yet when she asked me what time I had gotten there. She knew the chills came when I had entered off the elevator... "1:15" I replied. I was the last one to get there... Ethan was waiting on everyone before letting the birthday begin! God was there!

Congratulations to Nick and Lauren on their sweet baby boy! 
~Continued prayers for your family~