Couple loses 7 babies after refusing selective reduction

baby feetImagine that, after months of unsuccessful attempts at getting pregnant, you discover that you're carrying not one but seven babies. That's what happened to Lindsay Justice of Charlotte, North Carolina, and her husband David. The couple has two daughters--4-year-old Hannah and 2-year-old Hope--and was hoping to expand their family. But after nine months trying to get pregnant, Lindsay discovered she had polycystic ovary syndrome, which can be a huge roadblock on the road to conception. Just as the couple was exploring adoption, Lindsay learned she was expecting. A six-week ultrasound revealed Lindsay was carrying as many as six babies. Worried doctors suggested selective reduction, whereby some of the pregnancies would be terminated in order to give the others a better chance at survival.The Justices refused to terminate, looking at their babies as a miracle. Sadly, before Lindsay made it to her 23rd week of pregnancy, she lost all seven babies. 

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The couple's jubilation did not prevent doctors from worrying about whether Lindsay would be able to carry the babies to term--particularly when an 8-week ultrasound confirmed the expectant mother was carrying seven babies. But Lindsay and David were intractable on their stance regarding selective reduction, convinced that God had chosen to bless them and that it was their responsibility to believe in His miraculous ways.

Sadly, the couple never got to take that jubilant family portrait they wanted. At 12 weeks, Lindsay discovered she'd lost one of the babies, a boy they'd named Isaac. Though saddened by the news, the Justices held on to the hope that the other six babies would make it. But at 21 weeks, Lindsay started having contractions and had to be rushed to the hospital. There, she gave birth to a baby girl, Mercy, who died shortly after her birth. In a matter of hours, Lindsay delivered the remaining five babies, all of whom died within two hours of their birth.

The Justices are now forced to deal with the enormity of their loss. In fact, they've held on to the blankets that each baby was wrapped in during their short life, and they sleep with a different one every night. Despite their grief, the couple says they're hopeful about the future.

I can't imagine the overwhelming sorrow this couple must be experiencing, and my heart aches for their loss. I wonder whether they now question their choice to eschew selective reduction. But, really, theirs was an impossible choice. Considering their religious beliefs, how could they very well play God by selecting which of the babies would live and which would die? How could they not recognize that, given Lindsay's conception challenges, this pregnancy was a gift from above? And if they'd chosen to favor medical pragmatism over their faith, would they have lived with regret, wondering whether all the babies would have made it to term?

Ultimately, anyone can talk about what they would have done in the Justices' situation, but no one truly knows until the moment of truth arrives. And, at that moment, you simply have to make the choice that you believe is best for you and your family, the choice that allows you to sleep well at night. 

 Image via Corbis

Topics: array  babies  pregnancy  septuplets  selective reduction  abortion  death  fertility