The following is the story of a couple who came to Next Step and were helped by Lisa Tollenaar, RN, our Nurse Manager ~
Answering the office phone one day, Lisa explains, there was a young woman, estimating she was between 6-10 weeks pregnant, asking for an ultrasound appointment for the following day. Checking the schedule, I had to tell her we didn’t have any openings. I checked another day at her request and again, we were already booked. The young woman told me she already had an appointment scheduled at her primary care doctor’s office but she was looking for a free ultrasound sooner. Apologizing for not being able to accommodate her, and knowing that her future appointment was not at an abortion clinic, Lisa asked if she was planning on parenting? The caller said she wouldn’t be keeping the baby. Prompted from within to help this woman, Lisa took another look at the ultrasound schedule and found a time that would be tight but might work. Calling her back, she reached her voicemail. Calling her a second time, the woman answered her phone and was excited and happy to take the available appointment.
The father of the baby came to the appointment with the young woman and both were quiet but friendly. During the preliminary medical intake it was discovered that the young woman suffers from endometriosis and was told years ago that she would never be able to conceive a baby. With the intake complete, it was time to meet their baby.
Both parents looked intently and intriguingly at the screen on the wall as they witnessed a very active baby sucking its thumb! In fact, their baby was so active it was nearly impossible for Lisa to measure its size accurately but she estimated that this was a 12 week 6 day old child. There was laughter and bonding as comments such as “Aww, he looks like you did the other day when you were leaning on the car” with an “Oh yeah, it does!” following. The mother asked for pictures of the baby jumping and sucking his thumb. Because of the activity of the baby and the inaccuracy of measurements, Lisa offered to do a repeat ultrasound in a couple of days to try again. The mother immediately said she would like that but the father was quiet and shaking his head. Lisa asked the couple if seeing the baby at this stage of development changed their minds about termination and the mother simply responded “no”.
Lisa escorted the couple to a room so they could talk privately while she prepared the discharge papers for today’s appointment. Returning to the room a few minutes later, Lisa noted that they were quietly sitting side by side. Giving her the discharge papers and photos of the baby, Lisa asked if they would still like to schedule a second ultrasound? The mother immediately said “yes” and gave her a day and time that would work for her schedule. Lisa left the room to schedule the appointment and returning a minute or so later, she noted while the father was sitting alone and the mother was now walking around the room gathering as much information as she could, including brochures on childbirth classes, new mom support groups, grieving and post abortion counseling. Placing them in her bag, Lisa saw that she had healthy snacks in her purse and the mother said she has been eating right, taking her prenatal vitamins and trying to take care of herself. Because of their stated intention, Lisa was perplexed.
Asking if they had questions about an abortion procedure for a second trimester pregnancy and discussing the procedure and the possible risks and side effects, the mother asked some questions but the father didn’t speak. The mother said she knew of two friends that had abortions and one of them, at 15 years old, developed a severe infection that led to cancer and she is still very sick to this day. The second was a friend who terminated the pregnancy to save the relationship with a guy who ended up leaving her anyway and she then committed suicide. Lisa then asked the mother if she wanted to keep the baby and she said “yes, but he doesn’t and I have to respect his feelings.” It was as if time stood still in the quietness that filled the room at that point.
A little surprised that they showed up for the second sonogram, Lisa asked if they were still planning on terminating. The mother confessed that this may be her only chance to have a baby because of the endometriosis and she really didn’t want to, and she is hoping the father will change his mind. Lisa, turning to the father, asked what his concerns were? It was his age (he is 20 and she is 24) and that he wanted to be better established in life before bringing a child into it. He was also concerned that his family would not react well due to their culture. He was especially concerned about his father and that it would bring disrespect and disgrace to him.
Lisa asked if they had considered adoption as an option and it was then that the mother said she and her siblings were adopted and that, though her relationship with her mother is fine, her experience in the foster care system was terrible. She said she felt abandoned and would not want to have her child go through that. She also said she attended church at times growing up and she felt abortion was wrong but understood that there were certain conditions that made it ok.
The atmosphere in the room during the second scan was very subdued as they witnessed a baby measuring 14 weeks, 4 days.
Before leaving our office, Lisa asked if she could follow-up with her in a week or so and the young woman said “absolutely, I love talking to you!” She appreciated the prayers we would be saying for her.
Lisa called her a week later and was greeted enthusiastically with “I’m so glad to hear from you, I was going to stop in and see you later today, we are keeping the baby!” Lisa asked her what changed during that week, and the young woman said she worked a 16 hour shift one day and all she could think about was the baby and she decided she could do this with or without her partner. She asked him to do some research on pregnancy and endometriosis and told him that then they needed to have a conversation. Talking later, he told her that he couldn’t bear the thought of her hating him for taking away what could be her only chance to have a baby. He also said he thought his father would be more accepting if they were married ~ so they got engaged!