When Lindsey Paradiso went public with a very private tragedy she didn't expect her story to go viral. But Paradiso's post about late term abortion has been shared over 100,000 times since she first posted it in October 2016. The post has been trending again recently following a proposed a ban on abortions after 20 weeks in Virginia.
Paradiso decided to share her story after hearing Donald Trump's ludicrous claim that late term abortions "rip" babies from their mothers at nine months.
"I went into a full panic attack and started sobbing because I couldn't believe people actually thought that happens," she told Buzzfeed news.
Deciding to set the record straight, Paradiso took to Facebook to tell her story.
"This is ending a wanted pregnancy.
This is late-term abortion.
It was not wanted.
It was not a "way out".
It was not birth control,
It was heartbreaking." she wrote.
Paradiso explains that a scan at 18 weeks scan revealed her daughter, who she had named Omera, had a mass on her neck. Doctors advised the couple to terminate and explained that they believed the mass to be a rare tumour called a teratoma.
"The doctor told us it was in our best interest to terminate the pregnancy because her dying was pretty inevitable … but we didn't want our baby to die … we wanted to give Omara a fighting chance," Paradiso wrote in a blog post about her experience.
The couple decided that they wanted their daughter "no matter what", so they planned to wait until she was 27 weeks and then have her delivered (by an EXIT procedure – similar to a caesarean section but with greater risks) so she could have surgery. The plan was very risky, but Paradiso was willing to go through it if it meant Omara had a chance to survive.
But three weeks later an MRI confirmed that Omara's tumour had tripled in size and was growing into her head, chest, lungs and eyes. Sadly, this meant that it had become inoperable.
The heartbroken parents sought further opinions and went to the US's top children's hospital, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, for another MRI. "We still had hope, they said they saw one or two cases per year of this and showed us a little girl with the same tumor as Omara who survived until viability and spent her first year in the NICU, but now lives a somewhat normal life," Paradiso wrote.
Sadly, Omara's tumour was much worse. "It was aggressive lymphangioma, and it was three times the size of her head by now and they were 99 per cent sure it was fatal," Paradiso said.
The doctors told the couple that it was likely the tumour would kill Omara before 27 weeks, which would mean Paradiso having an EXIT procedure because the tumour would be too big for her to have a D&C.
"I was willing to risk never having kids again with the EXIT procedure if it meant Omi could survive, but now that we knew she would probably die before viability, the thought of also being infertile was too much for us," Paradiso said.
Instead, the couple decided to have Omara's heart stopped by lethal injection.
Paradiso was then given drugs to induce labour.
"Our hospital where my OB-GYN was couldn't do it, so we travelled about an hour away – and we were lucky, because a lot of parts of Virginia are very restrictive," Paradiso said.
"I was in labour for 40 hours, it was so painful and exhausting but I wanted to deliver my daughter so I could hold her and say goodbye," Paradiso said.
The couple chose to have Omara buried and held a small funeral service for her.
In her powerful Facebook post, Paradiso also shares a series a series of heart wrenching photos that tell the story of her pregnancy and her daughter's tragic birth from the positive pregnancy test to Omara's funeral.
Since first posting the story Paradiso has made several updates, including a response to comments berating the couple for not giving their daughter a change to live.
"We opted to end the pregnancy early, relieve the suffering that she and our family were experiencing and deliver her through labour fully intact. Because of this decision we were able to hold her and say goodbye," she writes.
"Thank you for all of your support and shares. We have to end these misconceptions."