“There is nothing we can do. She is going to pass away any day and, when she does, her sister will pass away shortly after.”
These were the words I heard on that frigid, January morning in 2015.
“You have two options,” the doctor continued. “You can either do nothing and wait for both of your babies to pass away, or we can perform a procedure, during which we cut the cord of the smaller twin to give the other twin a better chance of survival. We recommend the latter.”
At only 20 weeks gestation, I could feel my babies full of life as they kicked and wiggled inside me. With each flutter of movement, my mother’s heart burned both with love for these tiny humans, and for a desire to protect them with every fiber of my being for as long as I possibly could. I knew that every hour that went by could be their last; but who was I to decide when their final hour should be? The Author of Life had entrusted these tiny souls to me, and it was He who would decide when to call them home.
I walked out of that small, stark office in the University of Michigan hospital that day, and never returned.
Our babies had been given no hope of survival, and so we waited as the doctor’s “any day” diagnosis turned into a week, and that week into two weeks . . .
At this time, we transferred to a Catholic, Pro-Life doctor who promised to do whatever he could to give our babies a chance at life.
At 22 weeks gestation, however, we were told the smaller twin’s condition had reached a critical point, and that she had a week or two at most to live.
A week went by . . . and then another . . . and then another . . . and then another . . .
Nearly nine weeks later, we welcomed our tiny fighters into this world. During delivery, the doctor said: “they will be too small and too weak to cry, so don’t be alarmed if the room is silent when they are born.” Gianna Therese was born first weighing 2 lb 11 oz with a strong, powerful cry that I am sure could be heard ringing through the halls of St. Joseph’s hospital. Chiara Marie, the twin who “would not make it,” the twin whose cord we were advised to cut, was born weighing 1 lb 13 oz, screaming and bursting with so much life, the doctor almost dropped her because she was kicking and wiggling with such force. Both girls spent a little over six weeks in the NICU and, over that time, amazed all the doctors and nurses with their strength, spunk, and will to fight.
When I look at my beautiful, sweet, feisty, amazing three-year-old daughters today, my eyes often fill with tears when I consider what could have been. How many mothers have sat in that same office, in that same chair, and have received the same devastating news as me? And how many of these mothers, scared, overwhelmed, and given so few reasons to hope, have followed the doctor’s advice?
My little Chiara: My sweet, spunky, determined Chiara is one of the strongest and most joy-filled three-year-olds I know. Life would be so much less without her: void of the inexplicable joy she brings, all because of a decision I could have made on that fateful day. And while the outcome for every mother may not be the same as mine, Chiara’s story proves that it is impossible to know what God has in store.
I am Pro-Life because I believe the Author of Life, alone, has the authority to give and to take away; I am Pro-Life because I believe every life, no matter how long or how short, is worth living; I am Pro-Life because my daughters are living proof that life is sacred and worth protecting, from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death.