Just weeks before my 26th birthday, I found out the wonderful news that I was pregnant. My husband and I had gone through months of infertility treatments to get to this point and we couldn’t have been happier. As new parents-to-be we couldn’t contain our excitement and told all of our friends and family about the baby.
My pregnancy was a relatively easy one. I had no morning sickness, no mood changes, or anything negative. I was happy and healthy and falling in love with my child. Due to circumstances surrounding when I had conceived, I had ultrasounds done every four weeks starting when I was four weeks pregnant. These were done to make sure the baby was progressing correctly. In all the ultrasounds everything looked normal. I had what seemed like a healthy, busy baby that my husband and I couldn’t wait to meet. We proudly showed our family and friends the various ultrasound images and videos.
When I was 17 weeks pregnant, my husband and I went in for a normal doctor visit and I gave blood for the triple screen test. A few days later, our happy world faltered. The test results came back indicating a 1:125 risk of Down syndrome, much higher than normal for my age. My doctor reassured me that these were still strong odds for having a healthy baby. My husband and I decided to get an amniocentesis so we could get a clearer picture of our baby’s health.
An ultrasound is used during an amnio to guide the needle. My baby appeared very active and showed no soft markers for Down syndrome. The doctor was confident that everything would be ok, but we would have to wait two weeks for the results.
I took it easy for a couple of days after the amnio just to reduce any risk of miscarriage. During the two weeks of waiting I was careful to have only positive thoughts. I really, truly in my heart felt that everything would be OK. I bought more maternity clothes and a baby name book because, to my husband’s immense excitement, we found out our baby was a boy.
If I had thought our world had faltered with the triple screen results, it completely crumbled when my doctor called with our amnio results. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but your baby has Down syndrome.” I was stunned but managed to ask calmly if he was sure the results were accurate. This couldn’t be happening.
I couldn’t get hold of my husband, so I called my mother. Telling her the news about our precious baby, I cried. She cried with me and told me that whatever our decision, she and my father would stand behind us.
That afternoon, I finally reached my husband and told him the news. He was silent, then said he’d be home right away. I waited for him, crying and looking at the ultrasound pictures and the video of my baby. I talked to one of my best friends, trying to figure out what was happening to us and what we should do. When my husband got home we held each other and cried.
After a long talk that night, my husband called my doctor and told him we had made the decision to terminate the pregnancy. We were given phone numbers of three clinics that performed late second trimester abortions. The next day, we made the appointment.
In the days leading up to the procedure I talked to my baby a lot. I wanted him to know how much he was loved and wanted, and how sorry I was that I would never hold him in my arms, but that I would always hold him in my heart.
I will never forget the first day of the three-day procedure to end my pregnancy. It was a pregnancy we had tried so hard to achieve and wanted so badly. This was the day I would have a shot in my stomach that would stop our baby’s heart. We had elected to have an intact D&E. I didn’t think I could stand suffering through an induced labor termination.
On the third day, at almost 22 weeks pregnant, I went back to the office for the final procedure. That day they took the laminaria out and broke my waters. I was given pitocin to start labor so the baby could hopefully remain intact. As I waited in the recovery room for labor to start, I cried and told my husband that I wanted our baby so badly and that I was so scared of what was to come. He understood and felt the same way.
Finally my baby was born. All I have is the ultrasound images, the video and tiny feet and handprints. We could not bear to hold or see our sweet baby. We decided to have the baby cremated and spread the ashes in the mountains that we love so much. Only our parents and my best friend know what really happened, the others think the heart just stopped. We wanted to save them from the horror of the truth. It’s hard to know who might oppose our decision, and we didn’t want to compound our grief by losing people who are close to us.
I feel weare good parents who made the best decision for our baby. More than anything, we did not want our baby to suffer or have a hard life. Life is challenging enough. We also made the decision for our future and ourselves. My husband is my best friend, my confident and my soul mate and this tragedy has brought us even closer together than we were before. I am confident that we will come through this and we look forward to trying to have another baby.
To all of you going through similar situations, my heart and my strength go out to you. No parent should have to make the choices that we have been forced to make. Remain strong and find your support system, talk to each other, this is a tragedy for everyone involved. Don’t let this experience defeat you, even though some days you might feel that it has. It will get better, life will go on, and dreams will come true. We will never forget the impact our sweet baby has made on our lives.