Christa Dutton

Swortzel was faced with a harrowing choice.


September 26, 2022

One Monday morning, when Swortzel was 21 weeks along, she decided it was time to announce her pregnancy. But before she and Reece had the chance to tell anyone, Swortzel felt some pain she had never felt before, and her husband immediately took her to her doctor. 

The doctors did a scan and rushed her to the emergency room. The two babies were trying to come out, but they were only 21 weeks along — way sooner than Swortzel expected. 

The doctors couldn’t perform a traditional cesarean section because of where Baby A — who Swortzel and Reece had named Winston — was located, so they had to perform another delivery method that posed a much greater risk for both the babies and Swortzel. 

Swortzel looked at her husband and told him she didn’t want to die. 

The doctors told her that there was no way to perform this surgery without inducing labor for Baby B, named Oliver. If delivered, both babies would have a zero percent chance of survival. The life-saving equipment like IVs and breathing tubes used on premature babies would not have even fit them since they were so small, each under one pound. Both babies were likely to die or have a quality of life so poor that Swortzel and Reece would not want that for their children. 

The other option was to wait to deliver until she had reached 24 weeks of pregnancy, the most commonly accepted week of viability for newborns. With this option, Winston’s survival was unlikely because, where he was located, he was cut off from oxygen and amniotic fluid. Winston would be born only to shortly pass away. His brother, however, would have a fighting chance. 

Swortzel and her husband were faced with an incredibly difficult decision —  a decision her doctor said she would not have in some states. 

“The doctor told me that in some states, the distress and the life of the babies come first — regardless of if I was scared of the surgery because I had a higher mortality rate and regardless of if [the babies] would survive,” Swortzel said. “They based it off a hope they can survive.” 

Swortzel looked at her husband and told him she didn’t want to die. 

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