Dear Haylie: From One Mother to Another

In recent days, we’ve been seeing a circulating Facebook post written by Haylie Grammer, in which she details the loss of her baby girl Embree during what she was told was a ‘late-term abortion.’ Eileen, a long-time supporter of Wisconsin Right to Life, shared the following letter with us in the hope that it might help mothers like Haylie deal with the grief of losing a child. You can read Haylie’s original post on Facebook, or online here.

Dear Haylie,

I am so sorry. When I read your story about Embree Eleanor, I cried. There is a place in both of our hearts that will always and forever be broken.  Our son Daniel was delivered at 28 weeks gestation. I did get to see him. I held him close and asked the nurse to unwrap his blanket so I could see his perfect little feet and count his tiny toes.  I spent what seemed like an eternity holding his lifeless, broken body, before handing him to a lovely woman from the funeral home, who assured me that she would take good care of him. Such an emptiness I felt when a stranger took my son.

I don’t have any beautiful pictures of me snuggling with Daniel. It was not a thing in 1990 to memorialize heartache, but a nurse did take a polaroid picture of him lying on a sterile bassinet in a room far from the nursery. She wasn’t sure that I would want it. He wasn’t pretty like my other babies. His eyes were bulging from the pressure his deformity caused and his skull was covered with a turban to give the semblance of normalcy. At first I wasn’t sure that I wanted the grainy image. Why would I want to remember this moment? I took it with great hesitation, just in case, and I have no regrets. I have his picture tucked away in a special place with his tiny footprints. I’d share it with you, but it’s private, it’s mine, he’s mine – I wouldn’t want others to recoil at the sight of my precious son.

I know a bit of your pain. Everything was going well in my pregnancy but my belly was growing too fast. I remember the nurse saying, “let’s do an ultrasound and check to see if you have two babies in there.” I suffered a moment of panic and then pure joy, only to have it crushed 30 minutes later when they told me that my baby had anencephaly. His brain did not develop as it should and he was missing his brain, skull and scalp. He had a condition, like Embree, that was deemed incompatible with life.

Like with Embree, my doctors told me that carrying the baby to term was dangerous. The following 24 hours were excruciating.  Daniel’s central nervous system was not developed and it was easily triggered. He kicked with great vigor. I wept with each nudge for the baby of my dreams that would be no more.

There was no talk of abortion at my hospital. If I heard that, I would have been devastated. You see, I would have done anything to save my baby’s life. I would have died for him. But that was not an option. The only option I was given was that we both could die and since I had 3 children at home, it wasn’t a viable plan. I did want to die. I thought it would be easier than carrying the crushing pain that was overwhelming me.

I don’t know what happened at your hospital in Texas because it seems that the laws are written to protect women who need to terminate because of severe anomalies that are incompatible with life. It confuses and angers me that you were made to jump through so many unnecessary hoops during your time of great sorrow. If I were in your shoes, I would want to know why they made me suffer more.

I could go on and on. This is a story that I never got to tell when I left the hospital with my aching, empty arms. I do know your pain. It is a pain that I would never wish on anyone. I cry often for Daniel, but I do it out of love. I would have chosen life over death, but it wasn’t an option. I pray for those mothers who suffer because of their abortions, and as I said, I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone. Our stories are different, very different than the stories of the women who choose abortion out of expedience or fear. My daddy always told me that you can’t argue from the point of a particular to the point of a universal. Don’t make that mistake. I don’t want anyone to feel your pain. I don’t want anyone to feel mine. I especially don’t want any woman to have my grief exponentially, because they believed the lie that you can choose to end your baby’s life for any reason and come out of that unscathed.  For those 60 million suffering souls, I am unabashedly pro-life. For Daniel and Embree, I beg them to consider life. I don’t want Embree or Daniel to become the poster children for abortion, because their memory is better than that.



Daniel’s Footprints
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