Danielle shares her gut-wrenching story about how a restrictive new Nebraska law devastated their family. Unfortunately, more and more women will have stories disturbingly similar to hers if these laws keep getting passed.
Robb: I have always wanted a little girl and even though everybody in our lives were telling us, “Oh, it’s going to be another boy, it’s going to be another boy,” I knew we were going to have a little girl and it was going to make our family complete.
Danielle: And I was done being sorrowful with my pregnancies like it was OK to relax and it was OK to enjoy this pregnancy and to be happy about it and we were. We were, I mean, just over the moon and thrilled.
Robb: We decided … always tried to come up with unique ways of telling my parents and family and friends and, so, this time we had Alex hold up a sign that said, “Future big brother.”
Danielle: The Saturday after Thanksgiving we were putting Alex to bed and I felt something and my water broke. We went to the hospital and they did the test to verify that it was amniotic fluid and by the time I got to the hospital it … when were still at home it was just a little bit. I was just a little bit of water. And by the time we got to the hospital it was more than a little bit.
Robb: The doctor said that, yes, her water had broke. Our baby was 22 weeks along at that point.
Danielle: The doctor came in and she said, “You know, this happens sometimes and it doesn’t mean that’s its over. I can be better. This can still turn out OK.” And she talked to me about how that happens, that sometimes your water breaks and then it reseals and you make more water and you go and it’s OK.
And, so, at that point we were still hopeful. We were still … we still were OK and it was going to be like … we just kept saying, “It’s going to be all right. You know, God wouldn’t do this to us again.” And the next morning they did an ultrasound and there was no fluid left around the baby and the doctor came in and she wasn’t quite as hopeful that time, but she still said, “It doesn’t have to be over. There’s still hope. We’re going send you and have you talk to a perinatologist in Omaha,” and she said that my broke at 22 weeks in one day and that even if I were able to maintain the pregnancy beyond viability, that it was very likely that baby’s lungs would have not developed anymore past 22 weeks and one day.
We also learned that without fluid around the baby that the lubrication and cushion wasn’t there and baby couldn’t move their arms and legs and so they would be born with contractures. And that the uterus has muscle and it pushes on the baby and their skulls aren’t completely formed and they would be born with facial deformities and no lungs and they couldn’t move and those were the good options that maybe they would live, maybe they could live on ventilation.
We asked so many questions about how to make it stop, how to make it OK. She didn’t tell us not to hope. She didn’t tell us that it was impossible. She answered all our questions and then I asked her, “At what point do we go from being good parents and doing everything we can to save our baby to being selfish and putting our baby through, essentially, torture when they were born if they couldn’t breathe and they couldn’t move and …
My husband and I talked about everything she told us. What our odds were, which were nothing. The odds of bringing a baby home that had a heartbeat were so small. And the odds of bringing a baby home who had any kind of life were non-existent.
We know this baby won’t live, can we just induce me and make me go into labor so nature can take its course now? And she said, “No.” She said that they couldn’t do that because of this law that had passed in Nebraska in that the only way they could induce my labor was if my baby was dead or if I was sick enough that they were concerned.
My husband and I were just going over detail, just everything, all the odds, everything we had just learned and I said to my husband, “I don’t know what to pray for. I don’t know whether to pray that it gets better because I don’t want to be a person who doesn’t believe in miracles. The line in which I could not cross, I could not pray that my baby died. I couldn’t pray that God would allow that to happen so that they could induce my labor.
So, I told Robb that I hoped I got sick. Like, who hopes for that? Who hopes they get sick? But I wanted it to be over. I wanted the doctors to be able to help us. They wanted to help us because what the point … what was the point of trying to maintain a pregnancy that was going to end, badly.
And he said, “Why don’t you go home and wait?” And I just couldn’t, I just begged to please put me in the hospital because I just couldn’t … I just couldn’t go home and wait. It was so awful to just sit and wait.
I had progressed enough that he started the Pitocin and my labor started and my baby was born at 3:00 and they put her on me and my husband and I were there together and she was breathing and her heart was beating. And I asked, even though I knew, I asked is there anything we could do and he said, “Danielle, we’ll do whatever you want, but her lungs aren’t there,” and at 3:15 she was gone. I held her the whole time.
Know that it’s not just about women who are making choices about a pregnancy that they want or don’t want, these are affecting women who don’t have any control over what’s going to happen. They don’t have any choice in how their pregnancy ends and they’re compounding the awfulness of those situations by passing these laws that ties our hands and ties the hands of the doctors to make us not be able to make these choices. I believe that if you had asked my doctor, the day we talked about it, I believe if you had asked him that day, “What do you think the best thing is for Danielle,” he would have said, “To induce this labor and end this nightmare,” because there’s no hope. But he couldn’t do that for us.