Doctors advise pregnant women to abort their babies for a number of reasons. When Nadine Shelley’s water broke at 22 weeks, putting her baby’s survival rate at less than 15%, doctors advised her to do exactly that.
But Shelley had other ideas…
She posted her story — really, Brayden’s story — on Facebook:
The Boy Who Lived.I want to start off by saying, I respect that everyone has their opinion, I have very close friends…
Her story, in part, reads:
“My last pregnancy with my son Brayden took a horrible turn when I hit 17 weeks. We went in for a gender ultrasound only to find out there was little to no amniotic fluid surrounding him. There was nothing doctors could do for us then, because Brayden had not reached a viable age.
The choice to be admitted was obvious to me, but it was not easy. Brayden was given a <15% chance that he would live, and we had a doctor tell us to abort the pregnancy.
I personally did not feel like it was my decision to decide whether or not Brayden had the strength or capability to live. Brayden would decide that.
All I could do was give him the best chance to live, and that was to keep him inside of me as long as possible. Everything we chose was to give him that chance.”
After five weeks of bed rest, Shelley delivered at 27 weeks and 6 days.
“People that know me best, know that I am big Harry Potter fan. I grew up inspired that it was Lily Potter’s love that saved the life of her son. It was my belief in the power of love that got me through 111 days in the hospital trying to bring Brayden home.
‘Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. Love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves it’s own mark. To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.’ -Albus Dumbledore
Now, I did not die for my son. As complicated as my pregnancy was, I never came close.
People can argue that I put my own health at risk in fighting for him, and that’s true. I bled almost every day from my second trimester until I delivered Brayden, some times in very scary amounts. But my health was always given priority. I had specialists round on me several times every day, had amazing nursing staff, and they were there for me 24 hours of the day. The second mine or Brayden’s health showed risks, we were surrounded by a team of specialists in seconds and in an operating room in minutes.
Although I did not die for my son as Lily Potter did, I gave my life for him. I gave up my everyday life (including raising our 2 year old daughter) and laid in a hospital bed for five weeks to give him the opportunity to live. And that gave him protection. The best possible protection, inside of me and receiving a mother’s love.”
Brayden stayed in the NICU for 76 days, driving Shelley’s hospital time up to 111 days. 111 days away from the comfort of her home, the day-to-day activities of her 2-year-old daughter. 111 days of allowing her son to decide whether he would defy the odds:
“I had to wait almost 2 weeks to hold my baby, my head rested on the outside of his incubator for hours upon hours. Days upon days. Many moms know how it feels to be discharged from the hospital without their baby, and it’s absolutely devastating.
My car rides away from the hospital during Brayden’s 3 month NICU stay were some of the most dark and painful moments of my life.
Choosing to fight isn’t easy. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. We almost lost Brayden the day he was born, a moment that I suffered PTSD from for a long time. It was a day and moment I will carry with me for my whole life.”
“But my courage and determination in those moments are what gave Brayden life. He has hopes and dreams and a whole life ahead of him. This little boy that has insanely cute hair callicks, dark green eyes, and one of the biggest toothless grins I have ever seen!
You look into his eyes and he looks back, there is a deep connection there. His unconditional love and forgiving spirit speak to me through his eyes every day. It is the most rewarding feeling I have ever felt.”
Shelley concluded by encouraging others to share her story, Brayden’s story, and to remind mothers everywhere that there is always hope:
“He is my boy who lives.
He won’t go on to live a life defeating dark wizards, playing Quidditch, attending Yule Balls, and going to Hogsmeade like I would have hoped. But he will have a life full of trials and growth. Brayden will have a good quality of life.
It’s true that he is 6 months and only about 13 lbs, still requires oxygen, and will probably need physical therapy for a couple of years. He is our fighter, and will go on to do amazing things.”
“Life is hard, and there are lots of pregnancy stories that don’t have a happy ending. But I have talked with several moms that have lost their babies, and they all find comfort in knowing they did everything they could.
That is what helped me get through my 5 week hospital stay away from my family. I would tell myself, I am doing absolutely everything I know how to do for this baby.
And if that is not enough, then I can find comfort in knowing I did my best, and I can’t have any extra guilt because of it.
Please share his story. I want to spread the hope to all mothers going through difficult times with their children. Whether it be a high risk pregnancy, a child fighting in the hospital, cancer, genetic disorders, depression, anxiety, etc. that there is HOPE. Despite all odds, you can fight your hardest.”
She added one more note, saying that not only does she have no regrets, she would absolutely choose to go through it all again:
“Life is hard, and things won’t always go the way we want. But my message is, if I took those statistics at face value and chose to abort, I 100% would not have my Brayden to cuddle every night. But we chose to fight against all odds to give him a life. I would go through all that pain again to bring another life into this world.”
Is it easy? Of course not. Life is never easy: “It is hard. But we are strong. And it is a fight worth fighting.”