Ronald Reagan said, “I know that when the true issue of infanticide is placed before the American people, with all the facts openly aired, we will have no trouble deciding that a mentally or physically handicapped baby has the same intrinsic worth and right to life as the rest of us.”
In 1999 my son was given a prenatal diagnosis of “fetal anomalies incompatible with life”. I was offered “choices”. I could’ve flown to Wichita, Kansas and had Isaiah’s life taken by inducing labor. The literature assured me I would deliver a dead infant. He would’ve been given a fatal shot so he wouldn’t have to “endure the painful birthing process”. How thoughtful! They’d even sell me a “miscarriage certificate”. I was given another “choice”. We could arrange to give birth and not offer intervention. No, I didn’t like that either. Our choice rested in trusting God. If the child’s condition was truly “incompatible with life”, God would take care of when, where, and how he would die. Let God be God, the doctors could doctor and I’d be a momma.
There’s only One who can judge the quality of a man’s life, short or long. Isaiah had “quality of life”. Isaiah had two parents who loved him and showered him with kisses and holding. He had a big brother and two sisters who loved to hold him. His hospital visitors were so many the nurses scolded us. Once home from his twelve-day hospital stay, his nursery was set up in the living room near a sunny window. There he could feel the warmth of the sun and see his visitors as they came to admire him and bring presents and pray for him. He was born the day after Mother’s Day. His 32-day life meant he never knew what it was to be cold or experience winter. He liked to suck on his binky. Some babies don’t, but momma’s little Binky Boy did. He was only able to suck from a bottle maybe twice but oh, how he loved it! He sat in an infant swing a few times next to the teddy bear his sissy gave him. Being held was his favorite thing, especially by momma. A couple of his visitors said they saw him smile. I didn’t, but I knew he felt happiness and contentment. The oxygen saturation monitor allowed us to “see” how love can strengthen a failing heart. While being held, his oxygen saturation would rise to 100 percent for a few moments as though there were no hole in his heart.
On his last full day, the oxygen saturation sank until at evening it hovered at 65%. His big sissy, just turned five, asked to hold him one more time. Emily held him close and kissed him and told him things five year olds tell babies. Isaiah liked that! His oxygen saturation SHOT back up to 100 and stayed there for several minutes. Later his daddy (some little boys don’t have one you know) kneeled down to whisper sweet daddy things to his little boy and gently stroked his forehead. Oh, Isaiah liked that too! He loved his daddy. His oxygen saturation SHOT to the top once more and the LED lights of the machine glowed 100. We announced Isaiah was dying and might not be with us past the night. Everyone cried and kissed the baby and told him good-bye. Some people don’t have anyone to kiss them good-bye, but Isaiah did.
He made it through the night and was given another round of kisses and tears and good-byes the next morning by his adoring siblings. The babysitter arrived and scooted the children off so mommy and daddy could be alone with their son for the last time.
Isaiah died that morning with dignity. Dignity means no one killed him and he wasn’t alone. His momma’s arms were around him through the whole process. Some babies don’t die with dignity. About fifty million babies have died legally without dignity since January 22, 1973.
When will it stop?
By Debbie Joslin