Our Miracle Story: When my Doctor Told Me to Abort My Baby

My husband and I love to tell our 3rd child, Bryce, that he is our miracle baby.  His story is one of many being told today, where a mother chooses life over a doctors suggestion.  Where the possibility of a handicapped baby or a mother’s possible death pales in comparison to the hope of life!

We had been trying for over 2 years to get pregnant.  I had just received a second opinion from an OB who’s exact words were “to be happy that you already have 2 children.  You probably will never have any more.”  The diagnosis was PCOS.

For months, I struggled with my roller-coaster emotions.  With each friend that announced a new pregnancy, my heart would secretly break.  I began to feel guilty for my sorrow, as I knew several other women who had been waiting for many years to get pregnant, while I already had 2 precious little ones!

One day, I had gone to the eye doctor for a routine eye appointment.  My vision had been giving me trouble, and I expected that my 20/20 vision had changed.  My “routine” appointment dramatically took a turn for the worse when the ophthalmologist noticed that my optic nerves were swelled.  After seeing several specialists, and having several tests, I was finally diagnosed with Pseudotumor-cerebri (PTC).  I was given medication and warned that if it didn’t work, I would need to have a shunt surgically placed into my brain.

“Oh yeah, and don’t get pregnant,” one specialist had warned.  “It is very dangerous for a patient with Pseudotumor-cerebri to get pregnant.”

“No chance of that”, I muttered under my breath.

Except, about two weeks later, I was holding a pregnancy test with two purple lines!

My husband and I were so happy to be pregnant with our 3rd child, yet, we were also so terrified.  I went immediately to my OB-GYN, who began to routinely warn me of the dangers of this pregnancy with each visit.  I hated every appointment, and always left afraid and depressed.

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Pregnancy brain began to kick in, and I found myself doing goofy things, like putting the phone away in the freezer!  Most of the time it was funny.  However, one forgetful incident changed everything.

At about 4 months along, my OB-GYN had sent me to the University of Michigan to see one of her colleagues who was a Maternal-fetal Medicine Specialist (MFM).  Unfortunately, I had written the time down wrong, and showed up 2 hours late, missing my appointment.  This seemingly humorous error was the cause of a later conversation with my OB-GYN that I will never forget.

Sitting on the uncomfortable table, I pulled the too-small hospital gown over my pregnant belly.  The doctor’s voice was droning on and on, and I struggled to understand what she was saying.

“You aren’t understanding what I am saying, are you,” the doctor asked me.

“Sorry,” I said.  “I’m really trying.  You’re saying that during the delivery, you would choose my life and safety over my baby’s?”

Pulling her chair closer to me, she folded her hands neatly into her lap.  Sighing, she bluntly said, “your life is at risk.”  Pulling a few papers out of her medical file, she handed them to me.

“Read these when you go home.  You need to have a c-section because you have already had 2 children by cesarian.  Your uterus has a very high chance of rupturing if I were to deliver this baby vaginally.  Giving birth naturally is not an option for you.”

“Right, I got that.  I have no problem with another c-section.”

“There is a very high chance you could die on the operating table.”

I blinked.  “What?”

“If I were to give you general anesthesia, you could harm your baby, and the anesthesia could make your condition much worse.  If I were to give you a spinal block, the sudden release of spinal fluid could cause your brain to collapse.  I know this is hard for you to hear.  It is in situations like this, that I strongly urge my patients to consider choosing their own life over their pregnancy.  Having Pseudotumor-cerebri while you’re pregnant is nothing to mess around with.  All of my medical books are telling me this is a very serious matter.”

I blinked again.

The doctor flipped the file closed. “On top of the risks to yourself personally, you are taking a “class c” medication, and that could be very harmful to your baby.  We just don’t know enough about how this medication can affect a fetus.  There are not enough studies.  You are taking a very serious chance by following through with this pregnancy.”

My mouth flew open, “wait, what?  What do you mean by ‘following through?'”

“I am strongly encouraging you to consider your own life right now.  This isn’t the time for you to be having a baby, not while you are struggling with your own health.”

“You mean, I should get an abortion,” I asked?

“You are already a mother of two children.  You need to take care of yourself so you can continue to take care of them.”

“I am going to give birth to this child.  That is the only option I am willing to talk about with you,” I retorted.

“I don’t believe you understand how serious your condition is, and now you have missed your appointment with the MFM specialist.  I can no longer be your doctor, Mrs. Nehmer.  I’m sorry.”

And with that, I was alone.  Scared.  Angry.  In disbelief.  She wanted me to abort my child?  She wanted me to abort my child!  And now I didn’t have a doctor.  And I was 4 months pregnant.  Devastated, I sobbed all the way home, where I then called my sister.  It would be all right, she said.  She knew of a great doctor.  She wasn’t taking on new patients, but let’s see if she will make an exception.

The new doctor was a breath of fresh air!   Because of my medical condition, and the medication I was taking, I had to see my new doctor every few weeks.  I also had to see another MFM specialist (this time I didn’t mix up the times).  My new doctor was so calm and very hopeful.  She talked through my fears and encouraged me at every appointment.  She assured me that my old doctor had been using out-dated medical books and that there were new studies being done showing women with PTC were able to deliver very healthy babies, and live to talk about it!

“You can do this,” she would exclaim with a smile!

The morning of September 16, 2008, dawned bright and sunny.  Making sure my mom was settled in to watch our two children, my husband and I went to the hospital.  A few hours later, I gripped a nurses hand as an anesthesiologist prepped my lower spine for the dreaded spinal block.  Because of the high-risk delivery, there were extra doctors and nurses standing around, ready for an emergency.  Except, there was none.  Within minutes, my husband and I heard a tiny cry.  Tears streamed down our faces as doctors congratulated us.  We had a healthy baby boy!

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Today, I cringe to wonder what life would be like without Bryce.  His boyishly shy presence is a blessing to our family.  At 10 years of age, Bryce has a passion for playing the trumpet and violin.  He is learning to play basketball and loves to write stories and build elaborate Lego sets.  I can’t help but mourn for those families who are missing a child like my son, Bryce.  Families who listened to a doctor play God, and lost hope, robbing themselves of God’s miracles!

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My Story with Anxiety

Hello, my name is Carrie.  I’m a mother of 4 crazy kids between the ages of 7 and 15.  I’m also married to a wonderful man who has battled a stroke, thyroid cancer, and now stage 3 colorectal cancer, in just the last two years. The last couple years have been very stressful to be sure.  God has been with me each step of each day.  The times I want to fall apart and throw a huge temper tantrum, God’s overwhelming peace floods over me.

I never would have been able to get through these difficult times without God’s precious promise of peace.  And I never would have claimed God’s promise of peace without the journey through anxiety He brought me through several years ago.  I want to share my story with you, because I want you to know that I understand what you may be going through.

One beautiful spring morning I woke up feeling as though I had the stomach flu.  Adrenaline rushes knocked me off my feet. My heart was palpitating, and I thought I was going to vomit.  I felt better in bed, so I went back to bed.  My husband stayed home to help with our kids getting to school and to take care of our toddler boys. For several days I struggled.  I would get up each day, try to eat, then wind up back in bed.  Finally, after five days of this, I went to the doctor, thinking maybe it was my gallbladder or something.

“It sounds like you might have anxiety.”

“No, I’m a stay-at-home mom.  I don’t have that much stress in my life.  Besides, I’m a Christian.  I don’t believe in anxiety.”

“Even stay-at-home moms can have stress in their lives.  Even if you don’t believe in anxiety, I really believe this is what you have.”

Later that day, my husband took the kids to the park.  I came along, even though I felt as though I was in a fog.  I felt like I wasn’t even really there.  Watching my kids play, I called my sister and sobbed on the phone.  My sisters are my rock.  Not only do they listen well, but I often glean from their wisdom. I was surprised when she confided something to me that I had never known.  She too, had struggled with anxiety.

The next day, I got out of bed.  I got dressed.  I did my hair. I dry-heaved.  I took my kids to school. I cried.  I had panic attacks.  I cried some more.  I prayed and begged God to take this feeling of anxiety away.

Over the next year, I literally fought a battle with anxiety. I was stubborn.  I wouldn’t take medication.  Instead, I went to a local herbal and vitamin store and talked to the owner who guided me to many supplements and vitamins.   I started exercising, and changed the way I was eating.  I began drinking healthy green smoothies and eliminated caffeine.  I had to take care of myself physically, so I could take care of my family. I realized, though, that healing from anxiety was not all physical.

Taking care of myself mentally was not something I even realized I was doing at the time.  I had a friend who knew what I was going through, who remained in contact with me through it all.  She didn’t judge me, she only encouraged me and gave helpful advice.  She told me I was strong enough to get through this, and reminded me of God’s promises of peace. Looking back, I could not have gotten through that time in my life without my friend. 

I also began to realize I had to stop focusing on what I was feeling and the only way I knew to do that was to focus on other people.  I began to write cards for sick church members, bake bread for neighbors.  I made it a goal to do at least one thing for someone else every day.

The most important and effective change I made in my life during this time was to strengthen my relationship with the Lord.  Being a second-generation Christian, I grew up memorizing the scripture and hearing it preached and taught from the pulpit.  All those precious promises spread throughout the Word of God were only words to me.  I had never had reason to claim these promises.  Promises of unconditional love, bountiful peace, and endless joy.

Most mornings I woke very early, and very suddenly, with my heart pounding a million miles a minute.  Reading my Bible was the only thing that could calm my heart, and it took on a different meaning in my life.  I LIVED to read my Bible, and the peace that would flood through me as I read.  In the beginning, I only read through Psalms.  I read them over and over.  I kept a notebook with my Bible and wrote out the verses that I felt God was giving me.

I would also take very early walks. This was my prayer time with God.  Before the sun was up, I would begin my walk around my neighborhood, talking to Him.  Usually crying and begging Him to heal me, or at least help me get through the day.

Physically, I was dealing with some serious symptoms of anxiety.  Heart palpitations, shaky legs, dry mouth, headaches, severe nausea.  I had lost 40 lbs in just a few months. I had separation anxiety issues.  I would cry and throw myself into my husbands arms when he would come home from work. (My poor husband!!)

One day, I reached a pivotal moment.  It had been 9 months, and I was still struggling.  I was on my morning walk, and had ended my walk by going to my back porch.  Our back yard is beautiful.  The city made a sanctuary out of a piece of land behind our house that has a large pond on it.  I can see it very clearly from my back porch, along with lots of tall grasses and beautiful trees.  As the sun came up, it’s rays filtering through the tree branches, tears streamed down my face.

“Lord, if You want me to have anxiety the rest of my life, I accept it.  Please just be with me to help me bear it.  You are Good, You are God, and You are Holy and Just.  I praise Your Name.  Thank You for giving me this anxiety.”

After that day, I slowly began to get better. Then, one morning I woke up and realized it had been a few days since I had felt the anxiety. Soon the days turned into months. 

I would like to say that my anxiety has never returned, but the truth is, there are still days it rears its ugly head head in my life. It’s different now, though.  Now I know that it’s going to be OK.  That God is on my side.  That there is HOPE.  I have PEACE.  JOY is always within reach.

I have a new life verse.

Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

It is special to me because I learned through experience that God can and will “keep our minds” if we seek Him and trust Him.

The picture below was taken two summers ago when our family went camping at Lake Huron.  I am in no way a photographer, but this sunset was so gorgeous and so beautiful.  It is just an example to me of the great things God has done in my life, and how He has blessed my journey through anxiety.

The purpose of this blog is to help encourage other Christians who struggle with anxiety.  God can bring you through to the other side, and you too can have peace.

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