i tried to give away my own child

Christina Fisher, 38, made the hard­est de­ci­sion of her life. then her baby was born...and ev­ery­thing changed

Pick Me Up! - - CONTENTS -

My life was tough. I couldn’t bring an­other child into it

Asur­real sense of dis­be­lief en­veloped me as the sono­g­ra­pher smeared icy gel onto my belly.

I shouldn’t be here, I thought. This shouldn’t be hap­pen­ing.

But here I was, aged 35, hav­ing a 12-week scan for a baby I’d never planned.

‘Ex­cited?’ the sono­g­ra­pher said, as the mon­i­tor flick­ered to life.

I was about to nod, make all the ex­pected noises. But as a fuzzy lit­tle shape ap­peared on the screen, I felt a jolt of shock.

There was my baby.

Wrig­gling, wav­ing.

As if to say ‘Hello, Mummy!’

My baby, who I was plan­ning to give away.

It was July 2015, and since dis­cov­er­ing I was preg­nant weeks ear­lier, my head had been in a whirl.

The baby’s dad, a ca­sual fling, had made it clear he didn’t want to be in­volved.

And though I was al­ready a sin­gle mum to my daugh­ter De­bra, 17, I was in no po­si­tion to raise an­other child.

De­spite work­ing 60-hour weeks as a fast-food res­tau­rant man­ager, I con­stantly strug­gled to make ends meet.

We didn’t even have a per­ma­nent home, lived in a car­a­van park. I knew I couldn’t ter­mi­nate this preg­nancy, but my life was tough. I couldn’t bring an­other child into it.

‘It wouldn’t be fair on the poor lit­tle mite,’ I told De­bra, tear­fully, as we looked at the scan pic­tures to­gether back home.

I’d al­ready told her I planned to put my baby up for adop­tion. She looked so up­set.

‘I’ve waited years for you to give me a sib­ling,’ she sighed.

Guilt throbbed. But she un­der­stood my rea­sons, said she’d sup­port me.

All the same, doubts gnawed at me those next few weeks.

Could I re­ally give up my own flesh and blood?

When I felt tiny flut­ters in my belly at 16 weeks, I felt torn. His or her first kicks, I thought, smil­ing de­spite my­self.

Deep down, I knew I was al­ready bond­ing with this baby, but I pushed the feel­ings away.

I have to do the right thing,

I told my­self.

At my 20-week scan, in Septem­ber 2015, there was more news.

I was hav­ing an­other lit­tle girl. My imag­i­na­tion whirred into ac­tion, fir­ing girls’ names and faces into my mind.

No, I told my­self. I have to stay de­tached.

At six months preg­nant, I picked up the phone and made the hard­est call.

‘I need your help,’ I told the lady at the adop­tion agency.

Go­ing in to sign the pa­pers, I felt numb.

‘I want a fam­ily who’ll love my girl as their own,’ I told them.

Back home, De­bra and I pored over a wad of doc­u­ments. Each one showed a dif­fer­ent cou­ple – all des­per­ate to adopt a new­born.

Even­tu­ally, we picked a young cou­ple who lived a five­hour drive from our home in Fort Wal­ton Beach, Florida.

We spoke on the phone weekly.

‘We’re thrilled you’ve cho­sen us,’ they kept say­ing.

I had monthly scans and would send them the pic­tures.

‘Ev­ery­thing’s go­ing fine,’ I re­as­sured them.

They were so ex­cited and of­fered to send me pho­tos and let­ters as years passed and my baby grew up.

No, not my baby, their baby... As painful as it was, I con­vinced my­self that was enough.

With my due date ap­proach­ing, when most preg­nant women were wait­ing to meet their lit­tle one, I pre­pared to say good­bye.

Only on 11 Jan­uary 2016, I de­vel­oped the high blood­pres­sure con­di­tion preeclamp­sia and had to be rushed to hos­pi­tal for an emer­gency Cae­sarean.

The adop­tive par­ents waited with De­bra out­side the de­liv­ery room as my baby ar­rived, weigh­ing 5lb 9oz.

I barely got a glimpse as she was whisked way to the

As my lit­tle girl was placed into my arms, I drank in ev­ery de­tail

Spe­cial Care Baby Unit.

‘She’s hav­ing breath­ing prob­lems,’ the nurse ex­plained.

Knocked side­ways by the anaes­thetic, I felt my heart thud with fear.

‘Please let her be OK,’ I said. As I came to in the re­cov­ery room, De­bra was stand­ing over me, tears stream­ing.

‘What’s wrong?’ I pan­icked, feel­ing dazed.

‘The adop­tive mum just ran out of the Spe­cial Care Baby Unit,’ she sobbed.

‘Why?’ I stam­mered. ‘She said the baby’s hor­ri­bly de­formed,’ she ex­plained. ‘Mum, they’ve dis­ap­peared. I don’t think they want her.’ I couldn’t take it in. De­formed?

‘Nurse, I need to know what’s go­ing on,’ I croaked.

A doc­tor ap­peared.

He said they’d been do­ing tests.

‘We’re so sorry but she has Treacher Collins syn­drome,’ he said gen­tly.

I reeled as he ex­plained it is a ge­netic dis­ease af­fect­ing fa­cial bones and tis­sues and causes de­for­mi­ties.

‘Why wasn’t this picked up on the scans?’ I gasped.

All the doc­tor could say was the baby ap­peared to have a mild case, so it’d sim­ply been missed. None of that mat­tered.

I just wanted to see her. ‘We’ll take you there as soon as you’re well enough,’ the nurse soothed.

Still suf­fer­ing with high blood pres­sure, I needed med­i­ca­tion and bed rest.

Mean­while, as hours passed, De­bra kept a vigil be­side her lit­tle sis­ter’s cot.

‘I’ve been giv­ing her cud­dles, Mum,’ she told me, when she popped down to see me.

I was des­per­ate to hold her, too. And, af­ter three days, I got my wish.

A nurse helped me into a wheel­chair and pushed me to the Spe­cial Care Baby Unit.

As the baby girl was placed into my arms, I drank in ev­ery tiny de­tail of her face. Then I let out a sigh of re­lief.

She didn’t look like other ba­bies. But to me she was per­fect.

In that mo­ment, I fell ut­terly in love.

The adop­tive par­ents had van­ished, but de­spite all my wor­ries and fears about start­ing over again as a sin­gle mum, I knew I had to fol­low my heart.

Life with a dis­abled child would be tough – emo­tion­ally and fi­nan­cially.

But this beau­ti­ful baby, my baby, needed her mummy. And I needed her, too. So when the lady from the adop­tion agency ar­rived, days later, to of­fer to find an­other cou­ple, I sent her away.

‘I’m keep­ing her,’ I an­nounced.

De­bra was thrilled. ‘Let’s call her Abi­gail,’ she smiled.

Af­ter a week, I was well enough to leave hos­pi­tal, but Abi­gail re­mained in the Spe­cial Care Baby Unit. She’d been fit­ted with a feed­ing tube as she couldn’t latch onto a bot­tle. I vis­ited ev­ery day – couldn’t bear to be apart. Grad­u­ally, she gained weight and, at 5-weeks-old, she was dis­charged. Bring­ing her home was won­der­ful but ter­ri­fy­ing. As her con­di­tion caused breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, I’d stay awake all night, watch­ing her chest rise and fall. De­spite her con­di­tion, she thrived. She said her first word ‘mama’ at 12 months, and took her first steps two months later. I was so proud.

In Septem­ber 2017, she had jaw surgery to aid breath­ing. A year later, in Septem­ber this year, she was back in hos­pi­tal, hav­ing her pal­ette re­paired. The op­er­a­tions have worked won­ders and she can speak more clearly now. As she can also eat solid food, she’ll soon have her feed­ing tube re­moved.

Now, Abi­gail is al­most 3 – and such a bright, ad­ven­tur­ous lit­tle girl with an in­fec­tious laugh, she makes friends wher­ever she goes.

If strangers ask why she looks dif­fer­ent, I’m up­front. But peo­ple don’t often no­tice. Although De­bra has since got mar­ried and moved out, she dotes on Abi­gail.

I would never have wished this con­di­tion on my lit­tle girl, of course, but I hon­estly wouldn’t change a thing.

I shud­der to think that I nearly missed out on rais­ing this won­der­ful lit­tle girl.

That I al­most handed my lit­tle mir­a­cle over to the cou­ple who took one look at her and ran away. I love Abi­gail dearly and am so proud to be her mum.

And to think I nearly missed out on this...

Spe­cial Care for my spe­cial girl

To­day: Abi­gail is gor­geous in­side and out

Cud­dles from big sis De­bra

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