I Named Her Anyway

I remember the day I decided not to love Annie. I didn’t want my heart broken by a broken hearted baby growing wrongly in my womb.

I named her that day anyway.

A baby should have a name, I reasoned. That name defined the life of a baby I hadn’t even felt move yet. I’d only seen her long legs kick, kick, kicking away on a screen in black and white while the technician searched for the other half of her heart.

It’s good to define a life the day before you have to fight for it. It’s also good that we wanted Annie so many days before someone told us we shouldn’t anymore.

“Yes, her heart is all wrong. See there on the screen?” He was asking the wrong person. Certainly, I had an untrained eye, but to a hopeful, expectant mother everything about her forming fetus feels just exactly right.

“You don’t have to do this, Mrs. Lane. And I’m positive you won’t want to. I’m not even sure your daughter will live to be born. You don’t want to put yourself through that. I’d advise taking care of it today. It’s very private and safe. We can do an abortion right here in this office.”

Hot tears stung my cheeks. Was he talking to me? About Annie? His words drowned in my delight of watching my baby girl flip and flop on the television mounted on the wall in front of me.

“I can see you need some time to consider it,” he pressed. “You don’t have to decide today. But I can assure you it’s your best option. And no one will fault you for it.”

I didn’t need time to decide. I needed time to catch my breath and find my voice. He waited impatiently and handed me a box of Kleenex.

“No. No. I want to keep her!” My words were chopped by gut wrenching sobs. “I want her. I want her.” I don’t know if I was telling Annie’s doctor or Annie’s mother, but we both understood.

Contrary to popular medical belief, choosing life for Annie has been our best option. And more than a few loudly inquiring minds have faulted us for it.

Each of those recommenders and inquirers were right. I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t have to do this. It’s absolutely been life’s greatest challenge but equally humble honor to be Annie’s mom.

To be the mother loving a child who everyone knows will die too soon.

To be the mother comforting a child who knows all the truth of her condition.

To be the mother nodding and smiling, passionately thanking a discharge team’s recurrent announcement. “We’ll give her 6-8 weeks,” they say with smug, forced grins. “Enjoy your trip home.” And we were free for another day to wait for Annie to fail.

And somehow since we chose life five years ago today — while we all wait for Annie to fail– we just keep living!

I picture those 20-week-old fetus hands covering her face when I hold her thumb tightly to clean the red blot from a third-try finger prick.

I remember those skinny, unborn legs when I pretreat pink leggings discolored with brown sludged knee stains from digging for worms on a pre-k playground.

I remember the doctor’s warnings of Annie’s shortened life expectancy when she darts the entire length of the soccer field chasing her ball to the net.

Every three months when I’m scared to death in some cardiology waiting room, I close my eyes and picture preborn Annie that day. And I remember that we made the right choice to keep her, to want her, to love her. I’m going to keep making that choice every day I get to.

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11 thoughts on “I Named Her Anyway

  1. Pam says:

    Annie is so blessed to have you as her mother! Her pictures are adorable and of course you did make the right choice to give her life! LIfe is hard and even harder for her and your family, but God placed her here for a reason. I am praying for you and your family. Thank you for sharing your story and I do look forward to reading about Annie.

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  2. Linda says:

    Sweet and precious story! Sweet and precious little girl! Sweet and precious life! God makes no mistakes and every life has meaning. Annie’s life has meaning because God made her and gave her life. God bless you for not listening to the doctor! Your story is a blessing and tribute to life and to the fact that no life should be ended by another’s decision. God is sovereign and he knows the end from the beginning. God bless you and your family! Thank you for sharing your story!

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  3. Michael Edward says:

    Thank you for your love for your daughter and your trust in God. I know that it must have been very difficult. Difficult to hear the doctors opinions and difficult to say that you are trusting God. Annie will bless you for many years and I am sure that you are also blessing her daily. Thank you for your story. God bless you both and God bless Annie.

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  4. Esther Trouton says:

    What a wonderful story!!! You’ve stood up against those who think they know better than God, and you’ve put your trust in him, I’m reminded of the verse that says it is better to trust in God than in man. Annie is a beautiful young girl may God continue to bless you all. X

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  5. Christine says:

    I have a good friend whose MOTHER was born with only half of her heart. Doctors didn’t expect her to live but she beat the odds, grew into adult (and a bit if a hell-raiser!), gave birth to a son and is NOW a very loving grandmither if a beautiful 6 year ild girl! Doctors are trained ti guvr advice from text books, nit life lessons. Tust in God & never give up on your beautiful girl. He is the author and creator of life, with a unique design and purpose for each one. Miracles happen every day, but only the faithful recognize them for what they truly are!

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  6. Kathie says:

    What a gift you have given this beautiful child-life!
    What a gift you receive daily watching her grow and share her love with you ❤️ God has certainly blessed you both!!

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