Heather Spohr

Writer & Philanthropist

Los Angeles, CA

Up until that point in my life, I'd lived a selfish, charmed existence. I'd been somewhat prepared for the changes that motherhood would bring, but I wasn't expecting them for many more months.

In the fall of 2007, I found myself sitting in my obstetrician's office, numb. I was twenty-three weeks pregnant with my first child, and my obstetrician had just told me to consider terminating my pregnancy.

One of the happiest moments of my life was when I saw the two pink lines on my pregnancy test. Unfortunately, everything after that had been a nightmare. At my first ultrasound my OB discovered clots in my amniotic sac. My OB advised me I would miscarry, and so I braced myself for that. But somehow, my pregnancy progressed and my baby grew normally. I felt the first tiny kicks at 18 weeks. And then, at 19 weeks, my water broke. Everyone expected me to go into labor, but I didn't — against all odds she stayed inside and continued to grow.

On that morning in my twenty-third week of gestation, my obstetrician sat my husband and me down and explained that because my amniotic sac had broken, the baby had dangerously low levels of fluid surrounding her. This fluid allowed the baby to move and stretch, but most importantly, it helped develop her lungs. My OB said that our baby likely wouldn't make it to birth, and if she did, she probably wouldn't survive labor. And, even if she did survive labor, the odds were that she would die shortly after birth. We were young, she said, and this water-breaking thing was likely a fluke. We could go on after this and have lots of healthy children.

In some ways, the doctor was right. It would have been easier to wipe that pregnancy clean and start again. I was a newlywed with a dream job. Our life had just begun. Who would want to derail that?

Up until that point in my life, I'd lived a selfish, charmed existence. I'd been somewhat prepared for the changes that motherhood would bring, but I wasn't expecting them for many more months.

While the doctor spoke, I felt the baby kick and wiggle inside of me. I knew then that I wanted to fight for her no matter what. That day, I told the obstetrician that I wanted to continue doing everything possible for the baby — my baby. I put my heart on the line and my child above everything else.

I could tell my doctor didn't agree with this decision, and I'm sure that she still wouldn't today if she knew that my daughter Madeline eventually passed away at 17 months old from prematurity-related complications. The decision to commit 100% to being a mother that day has led to more pain that I ever imagined possible, but it was also unspeakably rewarding. Those 17 months with my daughter gave me a perspective and appreciation for life that many people do not possess.

I am now a mother to another beautiful daughter (with a son on the way) and I am a far better parent to her than I ever would have been if I'd ended my pregnancy on that fateful fall day. Though I live with grief, I also live knowing that my children have a stronger, wiser, more patient and loving mother than they ever would have had if I'd made a different decision.

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