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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

My Daughter Was Born at 25 Weeks -- How Can Abortion Be Legal? by Teresa Rachels

The morning of June 26, 1994, I woke up not feeling quite right. I was 25 weeks pregnant with the third of our four daughters. It wasn't until later that evening when I started feeling the contractions that my husband, Forrest, took me to the hospital.

When we arrived, the nurse tried to comfort us by explaining that it was probably just a false alarm. However, as soon as she examined me she turned white as a sheet and rushed out of the room. I could hear her at the nurses' station talking to the doctor on the phone. She was saying that she could feel the babies head in the birth canal. Delivery was imminent.  I was so scared knowing that my daughter's chances of surviving were slim. There were also a lot of what if's -- what if I'd gone in first thing in the morning when I woke up not feeling right?
 
Within an hour, I was surrounded by two doctors and several nurses. The need to push was overwhelming, while knowing that every push brought my baby that much closer to an almost certain death because she was only 25 weeks. But Erin Brooks Rachels was born alive weighing in at 1 lb 15 oz.  Both doctors and all of the nurses left the delivery room in tears.  I wanted so much to hold my baby, but she had to be taken away immediately to receive treatment in that small regional hospital.
 
The nearest neonatal unit was in Memphis, Tennessee -- three hours away. They would be sending a bus that had been converted to a neonatal unit on wheels, but it was already in route to pick up another preemie who had been born elsewhere in West Tennessee, and it would be several hours before the bus arrived for Erin.
 
In the meantime, pediatrician Dr. Susan Brewer remained at Erin's side manually pumping a respiration bag and trying to stabilize her vital signs. As soon as I was able, I went to the nursery where Dr. Brewer and Forrest were working with Erin. Her heart rate was running low, but as soon as I spoke, it spiked. The doctor said, "she recognizes your voice. She needs her mommy."  I stood there in amazement!  Even though Erin was so small, she knew her Mommy's voice, which showed the power of God to me, that He creates these little ones and there is a natural, automatic bond there.
 
The bus finally arrived and transported Erin to Memphis.  Upon arriving at the neonatal unit at The Med, Erin was placed on very intensive treatment. We were told that the treatment was so intensive that the average adult would die from the treatment itself. Her condition was so critical that for her to live one more minute was like one more hour for an adult in critical condition; one more hour was like one more day for an adult. To say that time moved in slow motion for us is an understatement.
 
My husband's brother and sister-in-law lived in Memphis, so we were able to stay with them.  We spent every day in the NICU with Erin while our two other daughters were back home staying with grandparents.  We were part of a small church congregation, but we regularly received messages from them, as well as many other church congregations -- even people we didn't even know -- who were regularly praying for us, for our daughter Erin. It was an incredible encouragement knowing that others were lifting us up before God and we definitely felt His presence.  For us, it was the only way to get through.  I was praying more intensely than I ever had before.  My prayer was that Erin would not only be able to live, but that she'd be able to have a normal, happy life.
 
On July 5, 1994, Erin passed away.  She lived two weeks, but that time was so intense that it seemed like months.  In fact, about a week after Erin died, I had to write a check at Walmart. I dated the check for November.  I knew that couldn't be right because it was 90 degrees outside, so I had to ask the cashier what month it was.  That's how significantly my own natural time clock was affected.
 
Some may say God didn't answer our prayers, but He faithfully carried us through this most difficult time, and I just don't know how people get through without Him.  If the promise of Heaven in the presence of God wasn't enough, I have the hope of being reunited with my daughter Erin for all eternity to motivate me to maintain by Christian walk.
 
During her short life, Erin was covered with wires and tubes. One of the most difficult things for me
to deal with is the fact that I never got to hear her cry, because babies can't cry with tubes down their throat. She had IV ports from her feet to the top of her head and everywhere in between. Every time a vein would blow, they would have to move the port.  She eventually ran out of veins and her lungs just couldn't take the pressure of the respirator any more.  She lived outside of the womb for two weeks and two days, with us spending every moment we could there at her bedside, often waking up in the middle of the night to return to the hospital to be with Erin.  We truly cherished every moment!
 
At 25 weeks gestation, Erin looked like and was a perfectly formed baby. She physically had every part, every organ, that she was ever going to have. She knew my voice and would turn her head to me when I spoke. She had our family resemblance. In fact, she looked very much like her older sister, Sylvia. She even had the same mannerism of tucking her hand under her chin while asleep as Sylvia and I do to this day. Yet, with all of the evidence of life and humanity, she was still legally abortable.
 
After having watched my daughter endure so much and fight so hard to live, and after praying so hard that she might live only to have to let her go, it sickens me to know that there are women who literally throw their own children in the garbage and doctors who accommodate and even exploit these scared women.
 
I have to guard myself against bitterness and hatred toward those who promote abortion. It would be so easy to lose myself in those emotions.  Abortion for any reason is a selfish act. I know I would have given up my own life to save Erin's!
 
There is no excuse for abortion, no matter how difficult the circumstances.  I have never endured the pain and suffering of rape.  I have been molested and stalked and I do understand the fear and humiliation that goes with that. It does not matter how a woman, regardless of her age, comes to be with child. It does not change the fact that he or she is a human child with the same potential as any other child, and regardless who the father is, that baby is still her child.
 
Just last week, I read in horror about the 14 year old pregnant rape victim from India who had been granted by the India High Court the legal right to abort her 25 week old baby -- the same age as Erin!  I do not blame her personally. I blame the adults in her life, whether they be friend, family, or legal authority that have counseled, encouraged, and made it legally possible for her to go through with taking the life of her unborn child. She is but a child herself and cannot even begin to understand the ramifications of this decision and how it will affect the rest of her life. She has been through much trauma because of the rape and aborting this child will only add to that trauma.  She will never know the love and healing that the child could give her. 
 
Erin was born at 25 weeks in 1994.  If she were born today at that stage, the medical progress is so much greater that she would have had a significantly higher opportunity to survive.  With a planned delivery at a hospital with an NICU, the 14 year old from India could have delivered her 25 week old unborn baby and that baby really could have survived.  Having seen my own child at 25 weeks gestation, I relate this India baby to Erin, and when they target this innocent child, they devalue my daughter as well. 
 
Take it from a mother who lost her child at 25 weeks -- when I had no control over the situation -- every life is precious and should be protected!
 
BIO:  Teresa Rachels is a mother of four daughters, wife to Forrest -- celebrating 26 years of marriage, grandmother of two, and pro-life blogger for Save The 1

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