Lindsey Paradiso and her husband were ecstatic to find out she was pregnant, naming their unborn daughter Omara Rose in January. On Feb. 1, their dreams started crashing down.
During a routine doctor’s visit, an odd bubble was found on the ultrasound. Soon after, they were told she had lymphangioma, a growth from her lymphatic system that was encroaching on Omara Rose’s lungs, eye, and brain. The chances of survival were minimal, and the life she would have was “not one I would wish on my worst enemy,” Paradiso wrote at the time. They decided to induce labor early, to give the parents a chance to hold her and say goodbye.
When Paradiso first wrote about the late-term abortion in February, it was for a small audience on her blog. But Paradiso’s heartbreak went viral last week after Donald Trump’s statements on late-term abortions drove her to write a Facebook post that’s been shared more than 50,000 times. It’s a visual chronicle of her pregnancy, from the video she covertly filmed when telling her husband the good news to a photograph of Omara Rose’s grave.
“Nobody is pro-abortion. Nobody wants children to die,” Paradiso told The Daily Beast in her first-ever interview. “But if you’re gonna get up there and talk about something, you need to know what you’re talking about.
“I would just tell him to freaking do his research,” she added.
Paradiso lived it.
“Yesterday I just had to see her again. My OB allowed us to come in for an ultrasound,” she wrote the day before the abortion. “On the screen it was obvious that the tumor had doubled in size over the previous few days and that it was invading even further into her chest now.”
On Feb. 26, 2016, doctors inserted a long needle into Paradiso’s abdomen and into Omara Rose’s heart, stopping it.
The injection is like an amniocentesis needle “but worse, because you know your child is going to be dead at the end of it,” Paradiso said. “My labor lasted for over 40 hours, and I still think that the injection was probably the worst part.”
They cradled Omara Rose after the abortion. A photographer captured those fleeting moments. “I wanted her to be alive so badly, but I knew it was best that she went without pain,” Paradiso wrote a few days later. “She will never know pain, she will only know love.”
They buried her in a little white coffin. A photographer captured Paradiso and her family cradling Omara Rose and the funeral. In one photo, Paradiso raises Omara Rose’s foot, smaller than one of her own fingers.
It wasn’t until Paradiso saw the last presidential debate that she decided to tell her story. She started having a panic attack, feeling nauseous, getting tunnel vision. And she told herself, “Lindsey, you have to tell the truth.”
Her own father—a “very pro-life” physician—is supporting Trump. But Paradiso said he agreed with her choice to get an abortion.
“He said, ‘Lindsey, you’re making the right decision,’” she recalled.
So Paradiso typed out a post a few times the night of the debate, and then deleted it. After her husband went to bed, she posted it on Facebook.
“Then I sent a message to my friend saying, ‘I don’t know if I should have done that!’” Paradiso said.
Paradiso worried about posting potentially incorrect scientific information, and she didn’t want to make her Facebook a political platform. But she woke up to the post having been shared more than 1,000 times.
At first, she was frustrated that she couldn’t defend herself against negative responses while she was at work, but quickly realized that they were “completely unfounded.”
“These aren’t people I want to defend myself to,” Paradiso said.
On the first night, Paradiso—who runs a photography company and has her number posted online—got a series of calls to her phone in the dead of the night. Others texted to tell her to go kill herself.
On the whole, however, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. She gets messages from pro-life women, many of them religious, who tell her that her case opened their eyes to the need for late-term abortions. She even gets messages from men who thank her for opening their eyes.
But the most meaningful responses, Paradiso said, have been from women who have been through similar situations. Some made the same decision as Paradiso and her husband, while others chose to let the child die naturally before delivering it. They’ve confirmed to Paradiso that she made the right choice.
“I knew she was going to die […] but the doubt I had was in ending the pregnancy early,” she said.
Some of the women told her that their children had started decomposing in-utero, and were delivered almost without skin. They didn’t have the same time to say goodbye and take photos as Paradiso’s family did.
“I kept her whole,” she said. “I think it was definitely the most humane way for her to go, and it was definitely the safest for me.”
Now, months later, she’s able to see some truth in the old saying that everything happens for a reason.
“When that happened, and they were saying that, it really pissed me off,” she said. “[I’d thought], we lost our daughter. There is no good here.”