By Nicole L. Dice, former president of Bethany for Life
My head was spinning as my mind reeled over what the doctor was telling me. “This is fatal.” “It’s a severe form.” “Your baby won’t survive.” My baby won’t survive. How could that be? I’m having a great pregnancy and everything has been fine. How is this happening? I looked into my husband’s eyes as we both wept. We never thought we’d be here, yet here we are being told to make a choice.
I always proclaimed myself pro-life and never imagined any situation where I would be left to choose whether my baby lived or died, yet here it was. The medical specialist explained that our baby had a chromosomal mutation and diagnosed our son with thanatophoric dysplasia. We had been trying to have a baby for almost three years and finally on March 30, 2015 we saw that double line, but now this life is being taken from us.
We are 20 weeks along and they’re telling me I have to make a choice. The doctor explained that I should consider terminating the pregnancy since the baby won’t survive. My mind cleared and I thought, I can’t believe she is recommending for me to kill my baby.
I looked at the doctor and said, “That’s not an option.”
She continued to explain that I would most likely miscarry so I need to take some time to consider my options. I looked into her eyes and replied, “I don’t need time. God will decide when my baby’s life is over. I will not kill my baby so tell me what we can do to help my child.” She looked at us stunned, then began explaining where we go from here. Nothing could be done to reverse his mutation so we were determined to carry out the pregnancy with extra monitoring until we delivered or miscarried. I fell to my knees at God’s mercy every night asking that He provide my baby with life. I researched as much as I could find, but found little hope.
We began treating our son as though he was already here making memories with him since we didn’t know if tomorrow existed. We read to him daily, I sang to him children songs and church hymns, and we prayed together every night as a family. My husband read children’s Bible stories to our son each night and I often sat in his nursery telling him about all the details of his room that he would never see.
One week went into another and each week when we visited our local doctor we heard a strong, beautiful heartbeat. Every time I heard his heartbeat I praised God for giving us another week of his life. I loved feeling him kick and watching my belly push out as he adjusted his body inside mine. I sat on the couch for hours staring at my big belly and telling my son how much we loved him and that we would always protect him. I went back to the specialist every six weeks and each time they would say the same thing. “He’s still alive but you need to be prepared that you could go in one week and not have a heartbeat.”
I knew in my heart that God would give us his life and told the doctors that my God will grant life and I will deliver my son alive.
At 36 weeks, my husband and I welcomed our son, Daniel John Dice, at 8:38am at our local hospital. Daniel let out a beautiful little cry just before he was born and he was alive. The doctor laid him directly on my chest and I thanked God for granting him life. My husband and I prayed with Daniel, sang him “Happy Birthday”, read him books, told him how deeply we loved him, and held him with so much joy. We sang some hymns to him and prayed with him again as he passed away in my arms, 89 minutes after his birth.
We wept for sorrow and joy. We were so sad that his life was short, but we were so joyful that we were blessed with time to spend with him.
I reflected on the option my doctor gave me to terminate my pregnancy at 20 weeks and while looking at Daniel felt peace that I chose life for him. I can’t imagine how different my life would be if I did not have all the time with him making memories during my pregnancy.
I chose to give Daniel a chance and give him life, but Daniel is the one who gave me life. He opened my heart with a depth of love I can never fully explain. I was able to spend 36 weeks with him growing inside me and 89 minutes with him in my arms alive. I reflect on all the memories we made with him and how precious those minutes with him after birth were to our family. I never imagined my son would have a short life, but I feel so blessed to have sustained his life and given birth to him. By us carrying out Daniel’s life, it has provided hope and faith for us as well as others.
Getting a fatal diagnosis does not have to end in termination. By carrying Daniel, I was able to spend weeks with him and make memories that I will forever cherish. Knowing that I gave him life has helped me grieve his death.
Although he’s gone, I know I did everything to provide a life of love and grace for Daniel which sustains me. As a tribute to my son’s life, I have dedicated a website in his memory to help other families find hope. Please visit Daniel’s website and my blog at www.OurAngelDaniel.com.