December 31, 2012

This is my daughter, Lydia. She’s 11 years old, loves Jesus, and climbing trees, and has a ready hug for anyone at any time. And before she was born, a doctor offered to abort her.

Here is our story:

In the fall of 2000, my husband and I found out I was pregnant with twins. We were thrilled! We were also a little bit nervous, since I had experienced three miscarriages since the birth of our three year-old daughter, Molly.

Because of the miscarriages and because I was carrying twins, I was under the care of a perinatologist, a doctor specializing in high-risk pregnancies. I had a level three ultrasound performed when I was 18 weeks along. During the test, we were able to see that both babies were growing well. Their hearts were beating regularly, they had good blood flow, and we had a boy and a girl. Our preferred names, Isaiah and Lydia, became official then and there.

Six days later, the day after Christmas, my water broke and I travelled to the hospital by ambulance. Isaiah was born that day, too early to survive. Since they were fraternal twins, though, Lydia could still continue to grow. My doctor performed an emergency surgery to close my cervix with a stitch, known as cerclage. It would have to be removed before Lydia could be born, but it would keep her safely where she needed to be.

The next day, it happened. My doctor’s colleague came on his morning rounds to see how I was doing. He explained the risks Lydia and I were facing: my cervix had been opened, so there was a high risk of infection that could kill either of us. In his estimation, Lydia’s odds of survival were about 15 percent. I would have to be on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy.

Then he gently said, “You don’t have to go through with this.” I was appalled.

After those miscarriages, after losing Isaiah, I was determined to do everything it took to keep Lydia alive. That doctor got a firm, “No!” from me, and I settled in for a ten-day hospital stay and four months of bed rest at home.

My family and congregation rallied around us. My mom and mother-in-law both took long turns caring for me, our daughter, and our house. Friends brought food, Pastor Tom Trapp brought communion, and both moms cooked and cleaned and prayed. I got special permission from my doctor to attend Easter worship, and our congregation showered us with love—in the form of a standing ovation!

I spent my days on bed rest reading to Molly, doing word puzzles, watching old movies (not as relaxing as it sounds), and monitoring uterine contractions. I spent a lot of time praying, grieving over Isaiah, and looking forward to Lydia’s birth.

She was born the day after my cerclage was removed: a beautiful, healthy, spunky little girl. She’s kept that spunk, too. When we met the Lutherans For Life staff at a Higher Things conference in North Carolina, she picked up 50 of the “Trust God – Choose Life” bracelets from LFL—and she’s given them all away. But you’d expect such spunk from a girl who beat the odds, wouldn’t you?

Heidi Perling is the wife of a wonderful pastor, homeschooling mom to three girls, and a blogger at