I have always loved babies. The smell of them, the joy in their eyes as they soak in the whole world, their fuzzy hair against my cheek. Amongst my friends, I was known as the baby whisperer. I taught my new mom friends the “pooping position” and the “sitting-up burp.” I couldn’t wait to be a mom.
Finally, at age 36, it was my turn.
We followed our baby’s growth each week. I dreamed of my little girl running around my childhood home in Idaho, jumping on the trampoline, digging potatoes with Grandpa, and baking in the kitchen with Grandma. We imagined the adventures we’d take to visit my husband’s family in Norway. In our minds, we created a whole life for her and us.
At our 16-week appointment, my husband and I were so excited to see her little heartbeat on the monitor. We listened as the technician measured the size of this and the length of that. I watched her unease creep into the room. Finally, she stopped and said the doctor would come in with a diagnosis.
A doctor we’d never met came in, sat, and rolled her chair up to us. She spoke softly. Our baby was missing an arm bone, the ulna. She was measuring very small, too small. Her lungs would not grow large enough. We sat silently waiting for more information, trying to fathom what she was getting at. Confused, I asked her to write it down.
She wrote thanatophoric dysplasia on a small slip of paper and handed it to me. Then she said it — our baby was “incompatible with life.”
I was too shocked to cry, too stunned to understand. We held each other’s hands tightly, and I stared at the floor all the way home. We researched those foreign words as soon as we walked in the door.
We found no comfort. Until then, we had been grasping at hope. If our baby even lived to term, she would live in uncontrollable pain, and she’d never breathe on her own. We looked at each other, and we knew.
We had to protect her from life.
At 18 weeks pregnant, I had an abortion.
The grief was like a brick; it crushed my chest. I couldn’t sleep. I lived in a fog.
I never imagined that I would have an abortion. It was inconceivable to me. I wanted a baby so badly. Until this happened, I had no idea what could possibly go wrong. And suddenly, it was happening to me.
I have learned so much from this devastating experience. I have come to understand my incredible privilege. I had a support system and financial security. I had access to the medical care I needed. It was enough to live this, let alone face artificial barriers.
My hope is that if you’ve lived through this experience, you will be comforted to know you are not alone. I write this in solidarity with all women; those who have suffered heart-wrenching loss, those who have chosen abortion, and especially, those who aren’t able to make the choice I did.
I implore our legislators to trust women and stop putting harmful restrictions on our access to health care. We can make the right choice for us and our families.
Jocelyn Crapo, Salt Lake City, is the mama to two rainbow babies who bring her endless joy. She grew up in southeastern Idaho on a potato farm and made her way to New York City, where she lived for 17 years working in design and fashion. She recently moved back west to Salt Lake City to be closer to family and the mountains.