As a young child, I was taught to always fight for what is right and to seek the truth. I have carried this into my adulthood, my profession as a police officer and I have passed this belief onto my children.
I am the mother of eight children: 6 on earth and 2 in heaven. My husband Dennis and I were married when I was 24 and he, 25. We had our son, Jacob, 2 years later, and our daughter, Jessie, 2 years after that. We enjoyed those early years with our two kids – soccer, karate, volleyball, and hunting and camping as a family. Several of my friends were not even married when our kids were nearly teenagers and they were envious that we would be empty nesters before they even had kids!
Dennis and I are both devout Catholic Christians and believe that children are a blessing from God. We knew we always wanted more children, and when I was 38 yrs old, I became pregnant with our 3rd child. However, around 4 months into the pregnancy we experienced a terrible miscarriage and lost our baby. We were deeply grieved. I had lost a significant amount of blood, and took 2 weeks off of work to relax and replenish my own blood supply.
But then, about a year later we found out we were pregnant again and were overjoyed! Our excitement increased as we awaited this new little blessing. Prior to our pregnancy we had booked a Church pilgrimage to Rome and I was in my 3rd month when we left. Part of this trip was a general audience with Pope John Paul II, and during this visit we received a papal blessing as did our little unborn baby. This was one of the greatest moments of our lives. I felt a very special connection with this little one I was carrying.
At our 20-week ultrasound though, I began to have an uneasy feeling that something unusual was happening. There were many more pictures being taken and the tech would leave the room and come back and forth. Our 9 yr old daughter was in the room watching the ultrasound with great anticipation with my husband! The procedure was completed and soon I was asked to leave the procedure room and meet in a conference room with the radiology doctor. During the examination, it was discovered that our baby had a major heart defect called ‘transposition of the great arteries’, along with other complications of the heart. I was advised that the baby could possibly die in-utero at any time, and that if the baby did survive the pregnancy, he or she would die within hours. The doctor suggested I have an abortion in the hospital immediately.
My heart just dropped. I was in a bit of a shock-but I said that no matter what, abortion was not the answer to this situation. My husband and I were both very sad at the thought that we could lose another child, and we prayed daily for God’s will. We shared the news with our 2 children and other family and friends. We asked our circle of friends for prayers for our little bundle in my belly.
Several weeks later after further testing, we discovered that our little baby had an extra 21st chromosome known as Down Syndrome and to prepare ourselves with possible added complications. Again, it was suggested that I have an abortion. And again, I did not give up on my little blessing- and continued to believe in the little body that bounced around inside of me.
Our baby completed her normal gestational cycle and we delivered a beautiful baby girl on September 1, 2001. As soon as she was born, an intensive care team grabbed her and swept her away to the pediatric intensive care unit where she stayed for 10 days. It was determined at this point that our baby-Josephine Rachael, did in fact have a heart defect, but not the one the series of ultra sounds indicated she had. Josie had a common heart defect that was repaired at 12 weeks of age.
Our little Josie is now 15 years old. She is a thriving sophomore in High School and a true blessing to our family! She is involved in Special Olympics, plays the piano, and is a cheerleader at school! She is a good sister to her five siblings and aunt to her two nephews and niece!
I feel so blessed to have Josie in my life and so glad that I fought for what is right and sought the truth. If I would not have had faith, and given up hope, we would not have our precious daughter today.