I originally wrote this post to share with friends and family on Facebook. I decided to share this early on because it is something that forever impacted me and how I view the world.
In January we learned that we were pregnant with Baby #2. Other than a Zika scare with C, we had no complications and expected the same this time around (especially with no trip to Mexico). We were so excited.
Our world changed forever at our 12-week ultrasound. We hired a photographer to take “I’m a big sister” pictures of C the week before. I was planning what I would write in our announcement. What presents to get the aunts and uncles. How to tell work. A very different plan for the future.
At the ultrasound, the tech noticed a large amount of fluid around the baby’s neck and stomach. She quickly ended the ultrasound, with the doctor coming in to explain the potential. He said a high-risk specialist would call us the next day to schedule another ultrasound and tests. But everything could be fine, this was just a precaution.
Less than 48 hours later I learned from the specialist he thought the baby had a severe deformation in the heart due to all the fluid he could see. There were also other organ issues that he spotted. He was concerned about a number of DNA abnormalities. He performed a CVS right there, sampling my placenta to analyze the baby’s DNA. He distracted me through the procedure telling me about how he spent his summers in Ames and his parents were both proud alums of Iowa State (my alma mater). I’m still amazed at how kind he was, and how he looked me in the eye and responded to my unspoken fears. “What I saw was not anything that you could have caused. This is not your fault.” Hearing those words does not mean I believed them, but I needed to hear it. Because that was all I could think about.
C and I flew back to Iowa for the weekend while we waited for the results. It was wonderful to be with family during such a painful time, and C had a blast on the farm. I was already grieving what I had planned for our baby and was hoping it was just a slight defect in the heart. Something that could be fixed by surgery at birth. Or just a fluke and everything would be fine. The more I looked online the worse I felt. But I couldn’t stop myself. I wanted to find a fix, a cure for the terrible feelings. We didn’t even have a diagnosis yet.
Monday morning I received the call that our baby did have a chromosome abnormality, but not any of which we discussed with the genetic counselor. I had many angels with me through this process, and she was one. She was so kind and supportive. The missing chromosome was a random event, in no way could be foreseen, and in 99% of cases ends in miscarriage or stillborn. I learned that in the one percent that does survive, they don’t see the damage at the ultrasound that they were already seeing. I would not be in that one percent. We would miscarry. It was just a matter of when. But the doctors couldn’t tell me if it would be later that day or in a few months.
It was incredibly difficult being pregnant and knowing there wasn’t going to be a baby in my arms. I worried about having to explain what was happening as I was already starting to show. We decided to ensure that when the time came we were surrounded by doctors that could avoid other potential complications for future pregnancies.
On Good Friday, I had a D&E. It was a decision that was extremely painful and heavy. The nurses were giving me hugs in the hospital before the procedure. Waiting for the eventual miscarriage was hell on earth but knowing I wouldn’t be pregnant at the end of the day was also torture. I wish nobody ever has to be in that position but am thankful that I had the ability to make the decision for myself. I recognize that not everyone may have made that call, but it was right for us. We made the right call for the baby and our family.
The peace that came over me afterward was something I had not ever experienced. That feeling was extraordinary. I’m confident that it was a sign we did the right thing. The timing of Easter weekend was not lost on me. We went through our darkest times that week. But out of great sadness and loss, we begin again.
I am healing, emotionally and physically. We are trying again (with approval from my doctor) and I will discuss that in later posts.
The photo above, or any from this photo shoot, won’t get to be in an album or picture frame. I have barely any makeup on as I was exhausted, nauseous, and running late. But I love it as a moment captured before everything changed. I loved the pictures we received from this night, and I hope you do too.
I was fortunate to have someone close who went through similar circumstances that I could rely on throughout this process. I can’t imagine not having her support through this. So, for those of you still reading and ever find yourself or someone you know in this situation, please reach out. It was so hard telling people. But it helps. This was a situation nothing could fix. But talking about how I felt helped, and if what I have gone through can help you… then it gives me a sliver of a silver lining in a situation that doesn’t come with a silver lining.