Despite everything she had been through, Bryonna's smile literally lit up the room. I was mesmerized by the twinkle in her eye. Given all of the challenges that she had faced and all of those that lie ahead of her, Bryonna's spirit was unshaken.
But the physical problems that she faced before the pregnancy were daunting enough. Being pregnant would turn out to be a challenge that I wasn't sure this brave young lady would be able to weather.
Bryonna was diagnosed with a condition called Hyperemesis gravidarum. This is like morning sickness on steroids. Bry would immediately throw up almost everything she ate or drank. She was losing weight instead of gaining weight. She would end up in the emergency room on several occasions with severe dehydration. On one of those occasions they could not find the baby's heartbeat causing some temporary panic.
The loss of leg function may have been the most unnerving problem she faced. With Cerebral Palsy there were, what Bryonna called "good leg days and bad leg days" but pregnancy made most days bad leg days. Bryonna had resigned herself to using a cane but she could see a walker and possibly even a wheelchair in her very near future. She had always known she would likely end up confined to a wheelchair at some point. She had hoped that day would not come until later in life but now at twenty seven years old, it was becoming a very real possibility.
Bryonna told me of an evening when her legs felt like painful weights.
"They seemed to be morphed together somehow into one big, heavy and painful, blob." She had told me.
When Bry tried to walk she fell to her knees. Tired and weak because she could not keep food down, she began to crawl towards her bedroom. The seven hundred fifty square foot apartment seemed enormous and every inch of her body cried out in pain.
Pro Life Utah is helping raise money to help Bryonna with her medical expenses.
Breathing became a chore and Bryonna would find herself gasping for air. She spent many days alone in her apartment. To go out was a seemingly unsurmountable challenge. Little did she know that there would be more to come. There would be diabetes testing and pulmonary specialists and an endless list of lab tests. Medication that might be helpful for Bryonna could put the baby at risk and so she dealt with most of these problems with no relief.
Maybe her doctors had been right. Maybe this was too much for her. Facing all of this, for the most part alone, Bryonna stared at that salmon piece of paper that her doctor had handed her weeks ago. The addresses and phone numbers for nearby abortion clinics stared back at her promising relief from this nightmare. In a moment of weakness she dialed the number.
This is what Bryonna would tell me later about the phone call: "The woman on the phone was so eager to speak to me and seemed so empathetic to my situation. The woman had told me that I called at just the right moment, as if there is ever an ideal moment to arrange to have your baby killed. She told me that I needed to take a class. The classes were free and killing my baby would only cost one hundred and fifty dollars. But she warned me with a sudden spice in her voice that the price does go up in one week."
Bryonna hung up the phone and began to cry. She could hear the city bus outside her apartment window and knew that it would take her directly to the closest abortion clinic. In the weeks to follow the daily sound of that bus outside her window would send chills down her spine and tie her stomach in a painful knot.
She had fought so hard for this baby's survival. She was not going to quit now but she had come to question her ability to care for the baby or, even worse, the possibility of not surviving this pregnancy. Bryonna had to consider what would be best for the baby. She began to consider the possibility of giving the baby up for adoption.
We do not begin to give the respect and admiration that is deserved by birth mothers who give their babies up for adoption. I don't believe that I had ever witnessed such selfless love in my entire life. The only thing that mattered to Bry is that her baby was taken care of and loved. Byronna became obsessed with assuring that there was a perfect solution to any possibility.
As Bryonna contemplated the best way forward a thought occurred to her. She had seen a perinatologist or high risk obstetrician for an unrelated problem in the past. His office was an hour drive from Bryonna's apartment but she remembered him to be competent and compassionate doctor. She picked up the phone again but this time dialed Dr. Silver's number.
This is a true story that is unfolding even as I write this. Even I do not know how the story ends. But we do know that Bryonna's medical bills are mounting and she has been unable to work. Please consider donating to this courageous young woman.