It was in the 25th week of my first pregnancy in May 2000, that we were told our unborn son, Thomas, had a fatal chromosome abnormality, Trisomy 18 (T18). All I was told initially was that he would not survive. My husband and I were completely devastated. We had hoped for children since we were married in 1994. Thomas was a miracle for us and we just could not believe we were going to lose him.
I went in search of information about the condition on the internet. I learned that this was similar to Down Syndrome, Trisomy 21, except that T18 was 90% fatal in the first year of life. I discovered that many of these babies die in utero, some die at birth, some die within hours or days of birth and a few survive months. We had no way of knowing how long Thomas would be with us.
We were given the option to have my labor induced right away and deliver Thomas at 25 weeks. We decided we would allow God to determine how long Thomas would have on Earth, so we continued with the pregnancy knowing he could die in the womb at any time. We told our doctor that we wanted, if possible, to see Thomas before he died and to have him baptized. He understood our wishes but cautioned that he could not guarantee anything.
During the remainder of the pregnancy, I prayed daily for strength. I kept remembering Jesus’ words ” … whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” Mt 26:40. It didn’t seem like a burden to carry a child who was terminal; it was serving the Lord.
At 32 weeks, our doctor told us Thomas was dying and that if we wanted to see him alive we would need to have a c-section right away. We set it up for the next morning and asked our family to come to be with us. On July 21, 2000, after Thomas was delivered and baptized, he was placed in my husband’s arms where he remained until he died peacefully and hour later. We had a burial a week later and Thomas’s body was placed near his paternal Grandmother.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in Paragraph 2299
” The dying should be given attention and care to help them live
their last moments in dignity and peace”.
We believe that we did give our son the honor, dignity and respect a child of God deserves.
But for too many babies like Thomas, they are discarded instead of being treasured.
On the internet, I found a community of support for people dealing with Trisomy 18 babies.
Many of these people, upon learning of the terminal condition of their baby, go with what the doctors recommends, which is TERMINATION; in other words, abortion. It is very sad that many doctors don’t uphold the Sanctity of Life. It makes no sense to kill a baby that has a fatal condition. These parents not only have the grief of losing their child; they will inevitably have the guilt of having their very sick child killed.
The grief process is hard enough without compounding it with guilt and remorse. We were able to see our son alive; we have pictures, a lock of hair and his footprints. We have evidence that he was here. Parents who abort their sick babies will not have any of these treasured memories.
These parents are scared and confused and they need prayers. I would like to ask you to please pray for these parents. They go along with the suggestion of termination only because it is usually the only option they are given by the doctors. Pray that they will be open to the Holy Spirit to work in them. It is only in doing God’s will that they will have peace.
Mom to precious Thomas 7/21/00 (T18), Lucas 8/7/01, and Christian 11/2/02 all in Heaven.
And Molly born 6/29/04 and is now 9 years old.