Story 18 – 04.05.2019
"It was only after I heard that there is the new group, Doctors for Choice Malta, that I decided to share my story."
"After a number of years of fertility problems, we were finally pregnant. This time round everything was under control. I was taking all the ‘necessary’ medicines and so we were happy that finally we were going to have the family that we always wanted.
We went for the nuchal scan and to our disillusionment we were told that the baby had a number of abnormalities. We were shocked. We had no reaction at all. We were immediately told that if I manage to make it through the pregnancy, the baby will have to undergo several operations abroad. Moreover, he will be bedridden and most probably feeding from a tube. We couldn’t believe what we were hearing, so we decided to have a second opinion. To cut a very long story short, we ended up consulting 7 specialists, including paediatricians and surgeons both locally and abroad; all giving us their opinion that termination would be the best option.
We had support from our families, especially from our retired 60+ years old parents, so we headed to a well-known general hospital in London. We never imagined that all the money we saved through our hard work, which should have been used to buy our baby clothes, food, toys and education, had to be spent on a termination.
We were still hoping that things could change. We were consulted by a foetal medicine specialist. She did an ultrasound scan to reconfirm the anomalies but she told us that things only got worse. In the meantime, we also did an amniocentesis (a test that is not done in Malta) to check for any genetic problems.
WE (because the final decision was made by me and my husband) proceeded for a medical termination. Medical termination is non-surgical and the woman is induced by medicines and the baby is delivered naturally. I am emphasising this fact because in terminations the baby is often portrayed as slashed into pieces, but not with medical termination. I still remember the doctor filling out the forms and explaining everything. We were even asked how we were going to proceed with burying our child. We had no other option than to choose the common burial held by the hospital.
Signing the last forms whilst crying, the doctor hugged me and whispered, “You are brave”, and at that point I really confirmed that I was saving my child from all the pain and suffering.
On the first day I was given a pill and went back in our hotel room. We locked ourselves in the hotel room for two days because we were afraid that we would meet someone we know. After two days we returned to the ward to get induced.
After several hours, I delivered my baby. Despite the visible anomalies, he was nice in our eyes. We hugged him, we named him, we spent time with him, we took photos and we loved him. The staff were super supportive, all acknowledging that we proceeded with the termination because we really loved our child so much that we did not want to see him suffering.
Our dream of starting up our family faded away so quickly. I must admit that this was a rough time for both of us. We were afraid of seeking support as we could not divulge any information. We feel that we are outsiders to our society. We feel betrayed by our government for not taking a stand in such circumstances. This was not our dream. This was not something that we wished for. We are married, both paying taxes, and we were only trying to build up our own family. We needed support. Finally, I do thank my gynaecologist who understood our reasoning and totally supported us irrespective of the decision."