After Charlie was born in August of 1998, I knew immediately that I would eventually want three kids. Zach was such an amazing big brother, Charlie was an easy baby and I wasn't ready to be done. I didn't have the feelings of: "I never want to be pregnant again. Keep all babies away from me. No I don't want to hold your baby. Why doesn't the baby hold it's own head up?" Those feelings arrived after Zoe was born.
We wanted our third kid to arrive about the same time that Charlie turned five and sure enough, I got pregnant and had a due date in July, 2003. Everything was going fine, the pregnancy was easy and I sailed through the first trimester. While at my 20-week appointment, however, my doctor realized that the nurses had failed to do some routine testing that is normally done at the 16-week appointment. The testing was rushed, an ultrasound was performed and that's when in addition to finding out that we were having a third boy, I also mutated into a giant red flag.
One major medical issue after another was brought to our attention basically resulting in us being told that, "Your baby is really, really not healthy, and if he even makes it to full term, will need several invasive surgical procedures immediately after birth and probably throughout his life which, because of other issues, will be very difficult."
Additional testing and ultrasounds were scheduled, including an amnio appointment on my birthday, and all tests came back positive for everything we were hoping was a false alarm. After receiving all of the information, we then had to make the decision of whether we were going to continue the pregnancy (and guarantee to our unborn child that he would have an extremely compromised quality of life filled with obstacles and also change our lives, and Zach and Charlie's lives, forever), or if we were going to terminate the pregnancy.
What I quickly learned is that it's impossible to say with any amount of certainty what you will do in specific situations until the decision is actually in your face and yours to make. It was a lot like someone saying to us: "You have to have one of your hands chopped off, but you get to choose whether it's the left or the right hand. Which way will it suck less?" Because either way, it sucks. Bad.
People always say that a parent's job is to be an advocate for their kid and always try to provide the best quality of life. So, when does that role begin? After birth, or when you're given the pre-natal testing results? Could we knowingly bring a child into this world that, if he survived, wouldn't experience things to the fullest, all because his father and I didn't have the balls to make a tough decision when we were handed the information? Could we change Zach and Charlie's lives forever, forcing them to make future sacrifices that they had no control over?
After spending a couple of rotten, shitty days processing the information and considering all of the possible scenarios, we decided to terminate the pregnancy. So on February 25, 2003 I went through labor induction, eight hours of contractions (with an epidural, obviously) and then Jack Adkins, at 21 weeks, was stillborn.
Telling the boys was brutal. Zach was old enough to get it, and he cried. Charlie was only four and all he said was, "So this baby is sick, but the next baby we'll get to keep." They're the ones that chose the name Jack.
It has now been seven years since we went through this hellish experience. Does it still suck? Absolutely. But as crappy as those days and the months following were, great things came out of it too. Amazing friends showed up at my front door with support, our families never doubted our decision and a year later, in June of 2004 right before Charlie turned six, Zoe Joy Adkins arrived.