I had begun to feel queasy and tired, and I knew these were the symptoms of early pregnancy. I had a 19-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son, and wanted so much for him to have a sibling close to his age. The anticipation of having another precious child in our lives made me not mind the downsides of pregnancy.
Because I was 38 at the time, my GP recommending a dating ultrasound to when I was around nine weeks gestation. That is a sad day I will remember for the rest of my life.
The specialist performing the ultrasound looked at the screen for a long time and seemed to print an unusual number of images. After a few words with his colleague, he announced that something was quite wrong about the baby. The skin behind the baby’s neck was filled with fluid. I was scheduled for a CVS test to determine whether the baby had Down syndrome.
I had the CVS the following week and the initial FISH results were expected within three days. Those were 3 days of anguish, frustration and a touch of guilt over having left it too late for falling pregnant again. Then the results came back clear. There were no trisomies or other chromosomal abnormalities with this baby. My husband and I had a were very relieved.
When I went back to have an other ultrasound at 12 weeks, the doctors had more bad news for us. The baby’s condition was not improving and they started to talk about cystic hygroma or foetal hydrops.They explained that it was a condition brought by a deficiency of the lymphatic system. Fluid was getting trapped in between the baby’s skin and her organs, creating dangerous pressure which could result in cardiac arrest at any time.
I requested a second opinion from a specialist. Unfortunately when I met him a week later he confirmed her dreadful condition. But he also mentioned that he had seen some cases which reversed themselves and babies being born with only minor internal organs problems.
It was time to make a decision to either go on with the pregnancy or terminate. I could not make up my mind and my heart was breaking. Night after night I searched the Internet trying to understand my baby’s condition. I had so little information to go by. I hung onto the belief that I should let nature take its course and trust in God’s grace. Every week I had another ultrasound which showed no improvement. The specialist was surprised to see that my baby was still alive because she was battling against horrible odds.
Finally, after days of anguish, I asked to speak with a counselor. We discussed the implications for my baby’s quality of life should she survive to full term. In the end, my husband and I decided we couldn’t imagine a life of suffering for our little daughter.
I was admitted in hospital to terminate my pregnancy at 17 weeks. The three days I was hospitalized were marked by fear, despair, guilt, sorrow and helplessness. In the middle of all that I experienced a glimpse of eternity when I held my precious little daughter. I named her Angel. Her dad and I spent a couple of hours cuddling and kissing her and saying goodbye.
Her big sister came to see her the following day and said goodbye as well. We organised a proper farewell with a cremation. Songs and prayers were said. We feel that Angel will stay forever in our hearts. To this day I still look at her photos and footprints the midwifes put together for me in a memory book. I pray everyday that my Angel is now safe and happy wherever she is.