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Letter to a woman carrying a child with a fatal condition

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. (The Catholic Register) - I just heard the news that your first child, seven months in your womb, has been diagnosed with a fatal birth defect. How sad to hear that your child will only survive, at most, a few moments after birth.

So far only close family and friends know about the baby’s situation. Those who don’t know bombard you with questions such as “What theme are you choosing for the nursery?” You try to smile on the outside, while inside you remain in a stupefied shock.

You wish your decisions were that trivial! Now you and the child’s father must decide whether to terminate this young life or continue carrying your child.

There is pressure from some medical personnel and even a few family members, to do the “logical” thing — end the “pregnancy.” “It will be easier that way,” they say.

Relatives, themselves mourning the loss of a grandchild, niece or nephew, avoid you or stumble around in their efforts be helpful. They, too, need someone to acknowledge their grief and walk with them through it.

In the confusion of grief you wonder, “Is it right, or good, for me to continue to bond with my child?” The thought of staying emotionally attached or divorcing yourself from feelings of tenderness both cut like a sword through your heart.

Here is a child growing in your womb totally dependent on you for life. What do you do?

Situations become clearer when seen from a broader vantage point. God created life out of an overflow of His love. Your child was created by God through your love. Being a gift of God, every moment of life is precious. Thus we are asked to take no one’s life.

This new life nested in your body is a blessing and remains so though your child’s life span will be extremely short. Should you continue to cradle this child of God in the warmth of your womb, sharing your life with it, you can rejoice that your love sustained it.

Amidst your tears, you’ll also re - discover the wonder of creation, the awe of it living and moving inside of you.

Yes, you will have to face your child’s parting from you, whichever decision you make. But if you carry this baby until its natural death, you will always have the comfort of having cherished every moment of the life God gave that child.

Great love often requires much pain. The love shown to this child will enlarge your capacity to love everyone else in your life and you will not have the additional wound that comes with cutting a life short.

How will you explain all this to people? You confidently say, “Although the doctors tell us Chris, our unborn baby, won’t live more than a few moments after his birth, we have decided to treasure every minute with him until his natural death.”

We who understand will support you and the rest of the child’s family. We will weep with you as your child goes from your womb to God’s arms. We will pray with you at your child’s funeral. And we will be there for you long after that.

With love,

Your family, friends and other members of Christ’s body

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This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of The Catholic Register(www.cathregaj.org), official newspaper of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pa.

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