I was 20 weeks along in the pregnancy. We had to make our decisions right away.
By V. J.
When I was pregnant with my second child everything seemed to be going great. I went to my monthly prenatal check ups, had my first ultrasound, had blood work done and took all of the usual prenatal care precautions. If it was a girl, we were going to name her Samantha.
Then I got a call about the results of my sequential screen. It put our chance of the baby having Down syndrome at 1 out of 26, and Spina Bifida at 1 out of 4. We saw a genetic counselor and she advised us to have an amniocentesis test, and get another ultrasound at 20 weeks to check on the baby’s growth.
We didn’t want the amniocentesis We’d had it done with our previous pregnancy and found it scary. In that pregnancy, I’d had some unusual results on the screening tests but my son had no problem. We figured we were in the same boat with this current pregnancy: probably nothing was really wrong and it was just my blood that got crazy test results. The genetic counselor seemed to agree it could just be my blood that was the issue.
The day of my 20-week appointment, my husband went to work as usual. Figuring everything would be fine, I took my young son to the appointment with me. But I knew something wasn’t right as soon as the technician placed the ultrasound wand on my belly and I could see the baby on the monitor.
The doctor came in about ten minutes later, asking questions and also checking the baby. At this point my toddler was getting cranky and I was getting scared. When the doctor finished he asked me to see him in his office. My heart sank. I needed my husband there.
In his office the doctor looked sad, and said there was no amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. At some point in my pregnancy it had gone away, which explained why I wasn’t “showing” and why the results of my bloodwork indicated problems. He said although I was 20 weeks along, and the baby measured at only 17 weeks of development.
My options were
1. Let nature take its course
2. Induce labor
3. Have a D & E.
The doctor explained that there was a high likelihood of stillbirth but a small likelihood of live birth. If live birth occurred was a very high chance of death due to underdeveloped lungs, and small chance of survival with severe handicaps. I mentally and physically could not deliver a still child, or continue the pregnancy knowing that my baby could die at any time. I might have been able to handle some kind of handicap, but it would take a miracle for the baby to even survive.
My husband came right home so we could talk about what to do. I was 20 weeks along in the pregnancy. We had to make our decisions right away. We settled on having the D & E, and called a specialist. He gave us an appointment to talk and start pre-op the next day.He said we were making a good choice, and read us a letter from another patient who’d had same procedure. She had gone on to have another child and named her Samantha. This felt like a sign we were doing the right thing.
I had the D & E and everything went the way it was supposed to go. Physically, I felt OK but mentally I wasn’t, we weren’t, and we still aren’t. I feel we absolutely did the right thing. There was much more risk in this situation than any potential for thing to turn out alright.
Out of all of this, at least we have our living child to come home to and hold in our arms. He helps us keep it together. The baby we lost will be in our hearts forever. We will try again, and hope for the best.