Our names are Santiago and Yvonne Alomía and we live in El Paso, TX. We have always been pro life and actually went to an abortion clinic locally one Wed morning in March 2005 with some members of Reverence for Life to pray the rosary and divine mercy chaplet. I returned once more a couple of weeks after that. Santiago and I already knew about Divine Mercy and Saint Faustina since I had seen a program about her on EWTN which enticed me to buy her diary.
In May 2005, we found out that we were pregnant. Everything went as planned until the end of my 3rd month when I started to bleed and we thought we were having a miscarriage. We were sent home from the ER and I was checked the following day by my OB at the time who did not find anything wrong. Since I was to be 35 at the time of birth of our baby I was sent to a high risk OB. By then I had been offered an amnio by 2 OBs to which I declined since I would never choose an abortion. Upon performing the ultrasound he detected a heart defect. Santi and I were devastated. From there we were given a referral to a peds cardiologist to have a fetal echo done. In the meantime we got a 2nd opinion from the best high risk doctor in town who confirmed the heart defect. At that time we decided to do the amnio although we made it clear to our doctor it was not to determine whether to abort or not. By now we were so overcome with grief and wanted to know how to prepare ourselves for the outcome.
Once we received news that our daughter in utero had DiGeorge/Velo cardio facial syndrome we were given the option to abort by two Obs since all this took place between weeks 17 and 20 (I now understand it has to be offered to protect themselves against a lawsuit). As I had one of three fetal heart echos done by two different cardiologists one of them told me “you’re running out of time if you are going to terminate your pregnancy” to which I responded that I was not planning on terminating and that it would be violating one of the ten commandments. When these fetal heart echos were done neither of the cardiologists saw any pulmonary arteries so it was either the baby had none in which case she would die, they were present but very small and surgery could be attempted but might not be successful, etc.
Another MD came in as a patient for an eye exam (I am an optometrist) and also asked me why I didn’t abort as did a friend of mine who is an MD in a field similar to mine. That person said, “Yvonne, I know we’re Catholic, but why don’t you get an abortion”. In the meantime my mother in law was asking her MD friends down in Ecuador of which a few also suggested abortion saying the quality of life would not be good, the baby would not survive, we would suffer throughout the whole pregnancy, etc, etc. A practicing Catholic friend of mine in another state also suggested abortion saying it would be too hard to care for a disabled baby and so on.
Around the time we got the news of Sofias diagnosis confirming her syndrome we ran into our local Bishop and an hour before talking to him we also spoke to our parish priest. As stated in the Catholic catechism “discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of “over-zealous treatment.” Here one does not will to cause death, ones inability to impede it is merely accepted.
Basically Santiago and I as parents decided we were NOT going to attempt heart surgery on Sofia since God had allowed her to be born with a severe heart defect. Plus, we thought that it would be extremely expensive and she would have to suffer a lot. We also did not want to “sin” in the eyes of God so we sought spiritual guidance in helping us make a decision, but of course no one really knew what to tell us.
Sofias original due date was around Feb 9th. As I spoke to my OB about when we would schedule her c-section we decided on Jan 24th since it would least affect my and his work schedules. In those last ultrasounds that we saw of Sofias heart it appeared as if it occupied her entire chest cavity so we concluded she would probably only live a few hours. In an effort to let her die a painless death we contacted one of the neonatologist MDs two weeks before my due date who had agreed to sedate her within minutes of being born.
On the morning of Jan 22 (the 33rd anniversary of abortion; Jesus’ age when he died) we went to mass at 9 AM as we always do on Sundays. I was cramping that day and had already lost what I thought was my mucus plug. Since Dominique, my 3 year old, was also a c section I did not know what a contraction felt like. After mass I called one of my OB friends who then insisted we get to the hospital. Upon arriving around 12:30 PM I was then set up to the monitor and it was confirmed that the cramps were indeed contractions. The nurse started to prep me and said that my main OB had been contacted and they had decided to do the c-section at 3 PM (Hour of Divine Mercy, the hour Jesus died on the cross for our sins). By the time she was yanked out it was 3:22 PM as stated on her birth certificate.
After Sofia was born they let my husband and mother in law hold her and we were scared and sad thinking she would die. We immediately had her baptized.
The neonatal doctor on duty that day was a staunch Catholic and not the one whom I had discussed sedation with. I clearly remember him entering my room shortly after giving birth and he stated “You need to start bonding with your baby because you have been avoiding her for the past 5 months”. I was shocked but ignored him… This neonatal doctor left the room and returned with the pro life pediatric cardiologist (the other one who had performed a fetal echo) and then stated to my husband and me in front of my father “ I honestly can’t find anything wrong with your baby besides her heart defect that would justify wanting to just throw her away”…. I then replied, “had I wanted to throw her away I would have had an abortion 5 months ago.”
Little did I know that one of my patients who happens to be a nurse at the hospital where Sofia was born was on duty that day and also prays her divine mercy chaplet at 3 PM. She and her nurse colleagues convinced the neonatologist to give Sofia a chance to live. God is soo incredibly amazing in how he knew that Valenta, the nurse, would be working that day and how she had a hand in Sofia’s survival.
Sofia was flown to Childrens Medical Center in Dallas that night and had heart surgery when she was 3 days old. A few days after her operation, her oxygen levels were dangerously low and the doctors were not hopeful by then that she would survive. We once again sought spiritual guidance from our Bishop before “pulling the plug” to make sure we were not sinning in the eyes of God. Bishop Ochoa said he would offer Mass for her the next morning and when we flew back to Dallas the next afternoon Sofia had finally responded to her treatment. It was a rough road in the next two months that she remained in the hospital with her lungs collapsing twice, she acquired three infections, and she had accelerated breathing without any sort of explanation so we were not sure if she would pull out of it. There is a lot of suffering involved throughout this whole process especially during the pregnancy, but as Catholics we know that suffering is a GREAT grace that God gives us because it brings us closer to him and does not even come close to HIS suffering on the cross for our salvation.
Sofia is a little developmentally delayed since she was in the hospital on her back for so long but can already roll over, she can say “mama” she always smiles when we pick her up from the babysitters and loves it when her older sister tickles her. She is the greatest joy and is such a special baby since God has extremely BIG plans for her as he does with each one of us since he knows us from before we were in our mothers’ wombs.
Looking back on all of this I now know that God “chose” us to have Sofia. He already knew that we were not going to have an abortion and He had it all planned out. I do not think that her being born on the 33rd anniversary of Roe vs Wade and my c section starting at 3 PM were coincidences.
I feel as if He is using me as an instrument to reach out to people who have either had an abortion or to speak out about the evils of abortion and how it is truly murder. I try to be compassionate and let them know that they MUST repent/confession before they die or else they will not make it to heaven.
All of us are our brothers keepers and it is up to each of us to convince other people about how it violates the commandment of “Thou shall not kill”. Matthew 7:13 clearly states “enter by the narrow gate since the road that leads to destruction is wide and spacious, and many take it, but it is a narrow gate and a HARD road that leads to life, and only a few find it”. Let us help one another find the narrow gate so that we many find eternal happiness in the presence of God.
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-The support, information and encouragement provided by the PPFL parents is not meant to take the place of medical advice by a medical professional. Any specific questions about care should be directed to a health care professional familiar with the situation.