I've always considered myself a fairly non-judgemental person, from the time I was young. People are given the ability to make their own choices for a reason. Choices are personal. Some are very difficult, and some very controversial, but personal nonetheless. I've experienced a bit the scenario referred to in the quote above lately, and what's ironic is that I'm now sitting here judging them for judging me. For having opinions, and feeling the need to share them at what I would consider an inappropriate time. Will and I have been faced with an obstacle that not many are faced with, although there are many different ways one may lose a child; miscarriage, stillbirth, illness, SIDS, all equally devastating but incredibly different experiences. Will and I have been given the blessing and curse of being informed of our child's impending journey to heaven. We've been offered the ability to cope and prepare before the time comes, but with that ability comes the fact that we are also sadly counting the days we have left with our little girl and knowing they will be far too few. The choices we've made regarding how we will handle the path we're walking are ones that we are sound with, after discussions with each other, our pastor, and God. I know I don't owe anyone an explanation for making these choices, but I know people have questions they are afraid to ask out of respect for us, so here are some short answers to some we know people are curious about (believe me, I'd be curious too if I wasn't in my shoes):
"Why continue to carry? Why not get it over with?" - Carrying her to term allows us as much time as possible with her thriving. We don't look at is as something we want to "get over with". We'd keep her safe and warm in my belly forever if we could. God has chosen for her to survive this long, when many of these babies miscarry early on, and we don't feel it's our choice to close the door on a life that is still living. Continuing to carry may also allow us to be donors by letting Leila's little body continue to develop healthfully as it is and give another baby a chance at life once she has passed on (although, there is some legal and medical controversy surrounding this, but that's another blog for another day). I have also read numerous stories of anencephalic babies living days, weeks, even months, albeit rare, I wouldn't feel right denying her the possibility of potentially being one of those miracles.
"Why have you chosen a c-section? It is risky and you may never be able to have a natural delivery again" - Natural deliveries of anencephalic babies can be incredibly difficult ones. Leila does not possess the piece of the brain (the pituitary gland) that allows her to trigger and participate in labor. Even with induction drugs, these labors can last days and days and be very traumatic for both mother and baby. Delivering Leila by c-section gives her a greater chance of surviving birth, and without physical trauma.
"Why are you questioning God? He has a reason for everything. Hating him is not going to make things any better" - Questioning God is a natural reaction when grieving. As Pastor Alex said, "If you weren't angry with God, I would be questioning you. Roll down your window and let him have it. Know that He understands, and He will be there when you're ready to take Him back". Let me be clear: I do not hate God. My faith has actually grown stronger, and I've leaned in to God to help me find a way through this mess. There are days when I ask "why me?". Who wouldn't? I find it appalling that anyone would actually have the gall to tell me I'm wrong for questioning. Then again... who am I to judge?
A big thank you to all of our friends and family that have come together from all over to support us during all of this. I think in hard times, you really learn who your true friends are, and we are outstandingly lucky to have so many of you.