Monday, 4 February 2013

The rights of an unborn baby...

A very different post to that of my usual blog entries, but this morning watching day time TV for a change I came across a debate that really affected me. The debate about the laws on abortion. I started to listen about the legal time limit on abortion was debated.

The law was originally passed in 1967, and the current legal time limit is 24 weeks gestation. I absolutely agreed with the lady suggesting that the date be bought forward, given that babies who are born prematurely at this same gestation now have much higher survival rates, given advances in medical research and technology. Since losing Harry, I have had the absolute priveldge of meeting many mothers of premature babies, and have heard their stories of their fight for survival and their journeys in life in their toddler years and beyond. I have found it amazing to hear how the wonders of modern medicine can basically save the lives of those teeny, tiny babies - so precious, so vunerable and so special. I was frankly shocked to hear the lady on the show saying that these babies are basically parasites of the mother and that a time limit shouldn't come into it, as the mother has the right to decide.

I am absolutely on the side that abortion should be the choice of the mother. I understand that sometimes accidents happen, and a mother should never be forced to be pregnant against her will, especially in the case of an abusive relationship, rape, etc. That being said I watched the Panorama show this evening, following on from the debate I watched earlier today, and I learnt that 1 in 3 women will have had an abortion at some stage in her life. Last year over 200,000 women chose to terminate a pregnancy. That is quite a high number considering about 700,000 babies are born each year.

While I am in support of abortion being something that women can access easily to enable them to have a control over their lives, I do think that more should be done to ensure that an unwanted pregnancy doesn't happen in the first place. Whatever happened to contraception and responsibilty in your sex life? I was truly horrified to hear the teenagers of Croydon discuss abortion so flippantly, as though it was as common as going to MacDonalds... they talked of their options as abortion being the only alternative to becoming single parent, at no point was contraception discussed as I expect it was never something that came into their heads at the point of "action". Last year, a third of abortions were repeat abortions so that just shows you that the horrific act of a termination is not enough to make these people take responsibility for their own sexual health or parental duties.

Ultimately though, a decision to terminate should be made as soon as you discover you are pregnant. Don't let the baby grow inside of you for months while you debate their future, time is truly of the essence. If you discover you are pregnant at 6-8 weeks then an appointment with a doctor can result in a termination about 2 weeks later. Therefore, I cannot understand how the legal timeframe is at 24 weeks.
I fully appreciate that a termination may need to happen to a completely planned and wanted pregnancy for medical reasons but there are so many exceptions to the abortion laws if the life of the baby is compromised, so taking medical reasons and complications out of the equation and speaking only about the "choice" issues, I really think that the 12 week limit is the most fair to the baby. Sometimes, something might occur where late discovery of pregnancy happens or circumstances change, and a longer time frame might be required so maybe, for now, a 20 week limit is a long enough time frame. I feel it should be more pressing for mothers to test for pregnancy and to make a decision, without letting it carry on until the baby is viable outside the womb to terminate.

Today I discussed this issue on my FaceBook page and learnt the very sad story of a friend of mine, who had to terminate her pregnancy due to several very sad complications with her little girl, at 16 weeks. She actually had to give birth to her baby and got to keep her blanket and take footprints of her little girl and was treated with great dignity and support. It is great to know, that in these very sad circumstances that support is there, but I do see these circumstances as something very different to those women who abort so late, because this pregnancy does suit their lifestyle. My heart goes out to all the mothers who have to abort their wanted pregnancies for medical reasons, and I truly understand the quandry that you find yourselves in, especially after having to make the devastating decision to withdraw treatment for Harry out of the love in our hearts for our baby, not wanting to cause him any more suffering or pain or trauma. That is surely the same thought process as those having to terminate on medical grounds.

I just think about my scans of William, and Harry, and our jelly-baby, and how seeing them move each time, they aren't just foetuses, they are real babies, they have life in them. How sad after 12 weeks when they can open and close their fingers, make sucking movements with their mouths and have fingerprints forming on their fingertips, that someone can decide to end their lives before they've even begun, or had the chance to begin. I feel for all my dear friends who are struggling to, or have struggled to, conceive and who desperately want to become parents to share their love with their own baby, and that so many women are flippantly aborting the lives of babies that could go on to become healthy, happy children.

It is sad that in today's world "responsibility" is rare. "I'll just go and get an abortion" was a line I have taken from tonight's show and has stuck in my head. I absolutely feel that the option should never be taken away from a woman, as you never know when that decision might be one you have to make. I would also never judge someone who had to make that very hard decision. But I do think that the responsibilty of that decision should be made so that it is done in fairness to the unborn child, not left until the baby is fully formed and made so that these women who have four, five, six abortions in their lives are adequately educated about safe sex instead of using this procedure as a form of contraception.

As a fellow bereaved parent....

Before I lost Harry I had never fully realised the pain of being a bereaved parent. Obviously, experiencing the loss of your child awakens a new persona inside of you and you can sympathise with anyone experiencing a loss, as you realise that any loss is profound in it's own way. But, no loss can compare to that of losing your own child, whom you have carried for months, given birth to, and loved like you can only love your own child, with all of your being. The feeling of utter despair, emptiness and strange confusion is like no other.

It is very sad, that since Harry's passing I have come to meet a fair number of fellow bereaved parents. It always seems so wrong that a child should pass before it's parents and sadly this happens much more frequently than most realise.

Harry has been an angel for almost eight months now, and in that short time, it has come to my knowledge that my previous neighbour when I was growing up, lost a baby shortly after birth. Several of my mum's good friends had lost their babies to stillbirths. I have met several other mother's who have lost their babies to the evil vasa praevia, that cost my Harry his life. More recently, I have been in touch with a lady whose preemie baby who was born at 24 weeks, lost her fight at 13 days old, and had the same experience of saying goodbye to her little girl, as I did with Harry. Only the other weekend I met a lady at my Reiki course who was overcome with emotion when I told her about Harry, as she too lost her baby, at three months to a very sudden virus nearly twenty five years ago.

I lost my lovely friend Kate last year to a sudden heart attack, who had just months before had her beautiful daughter. I kept thinking about her mother and how the news of hearing her daughter had passed while living in London, miles away from her home in Melbourne. Her daughter that had gone away to make a career for herself in banking and had met a lovely man and started a family. The last thing you expect is to receive such a dreadful phonecall.

Very tragically, a similar thing happened to my beautiful friend's brother, Jon. He, too, was living away, in Sweden and also suffered a heart attack shortly after Christmas. I recently went to his funeral as I felt that I wanted to be there for my friend and her lovely family. Being at the funeral reminded me of the pain I experienced at Harry's funeral which seems like such a blur to me now, as the same pain was etched across the face of Jon's dear mother. What a cruel world we live in. To bring up your son, and to give him so much love, and to receive so much love from him. To watch him grow and flourish, and to live a full and rich life. Parents never expect to have to say goodbye, especially not at the age he was, in his early twenties. To hear his mother speak so highly of her beloved son and to recall such happy times, made me feel such sadness for her. I can relate to the pain she feels, as saying goodbye to Harry was so devastating and so heart wrenching, but this dear lady has had the son that she has bonded with for many years so cruelly and so shockingly taken away without the chance for a goodbye.

Since writing this blog, I have become a part of a blogging group, where other parents write about the issues they face, as either bereaved parents, or parents who have had a neonatal experience or a preemie baby. A lady who has been blogging for years about her experience of 27 weeker twins who are now toddlers,  ( has also got a nine month old little girl Matilda Mae. It was with such sadness that today I learnt that this dear lady has lost her daughter to what could be cot death. She sadly discovered her daughter, as an angel in her cot on Sunday morning. How devastating, and how tragic. All day today, she, and her family have been in my thoughts and my prayers. Nothing can prepare you for the loss of your child. Especially so unexpectedly and so sudden.

As every bereaved parent will agree, no words can really console you, but knowing that you have people who are thinking of you, and sending you their best wishes, their prayers and their support is a huge help. The void you have in your life with never be filled, and the sadness in your heart will always be there. You will never forget your dear child. You just learn to deal with the emotions you feel and you learn to remember them with a smile. That sounds crazy to someone who has recently lost, and I still have days where I am overcome with grief for my sweet boy. But I am still very early in my journey and with every passing day, it does get a little easier. I have been very lucky to have the support of so many wonderful people and it does help enormously. I hope, to all my fellow bereaved parents, that you too can find superb support as well, and that you can take little steps on your journeys, and that in some way I can offer a little hand to hold along the way. xxxx