I didn’t know how I could go through with ending the pregnancy, but the baby was suffering and wouldn’t survive. What else could we do?
After two years of trying, and beginning to doubt we’d ever be parents, we were finally expecting. We’d never been happier. We told the world we were pregnant, no fear involved. We recorded video of our first ultrasound and showed everyone the rapid beat of a tiny heart that meant the beginnings of our family.
At 13 weeks, 6 days the next ultrasound was scheduled. My husband Brian was at work, but I didn’t mind going alone. I felt good, and certain that everything was going to be OK.
During the ultrasound, the technician showed me that the heartbeat was slightly slower than at my last appointment. She also noted that I had placenta previa, but reassured me that it wasn’t uncommon. She continued conducting the ultrasound, but then started printing tons of pictures which she didn’t give to me right then. When she asked me to wait to speak to the head perinatologist, I knew something was wrong. I called Brian, gave him the update and told him not to worry.
The head perinatalogist conducted his own ultrasound. Now I was sure there was something they weren’t telling me, in fact I was certain of it. He has a look of despair on his face. He completed the exam and asked me to meet him in his office. My heart was racing.
In his office, he explained that my baby had a condition called an omphalocele, and in this case it was very large. An omphalocele is when some of the internal organs remain outside the body cavity once it has closed. The organs remaining outside of my baby’s body cavity included the intestines, the liver and part of the stomach. In addition to this, the umbilical cord has attached to the liver rather than the placenta. The chances for survival to full term were about 3-5% he said.
I was in hysterics, crying and nodding trying to absorb everything. My baby, that we wanted so much, was not going to live for me to see, hold, touch.
I asked “What are my choices?”
He said I could either wait for the pregnancy to terminate on it’s own, which could be in a few days or months from now, but growth was already slowing and the baby was only measuring at 11 weeks development. Or I could terminate the pregnancy and not wait for nature to take its course.
A very sweet and kind nurse led me to a room to call my husband. As soon as he heard my voice Brian knew something was wrong. He made it to the office in record time but it felt like an eternity to me. While I waited for him, I called my mother bawling my eyes out over this. She was crying too.
The doctor met with Brian and I and explained everything all over again. He showed us the ultrasound pictures and it was very clear that the baby’s problems were just as he had described.
We left my car at the medical office and drove home together in Brian’s car. All I could do was cry and shake. I didn’t know how I could go through with ending the pregnancy, but the baby was suffering and wouldn’t survive. What else could we do?
When Brian and I got home we spoke to my OBGYN, such a sweet man. He said he had already seen the ultrasound pictures. He encouraged us to make our own decision and assured us he’d support us either way. He recommends a specialist in case we decided to terminate the pregnancy. Brian and I talked about this for hours, and then we call my parents. They were sympathetic and supportive. They and Brian did not want to see me destroyed emotionally as we grew more attached to our baby who would die so soon.
We decided to terminate the pregnancy. This was a choice we never thought we would ever have to make. We called the specialist and were given an appointment for the next day. They did another ultrasound, and the specialist was the third medical doctor to give us the same diagnosis and grim statistics on survival rates. We knew we were making the right choice, but that didn’t make it an easy choice. We schedule the procedure for that Friday.
Brian stayed home from work the rest of the week. Getting to Friday seemed to take forever. But, we got there. We had an amazing nursing staff that day… very sweet and sympathetic. The doctor came in to start the process of opening up the cervix, basically inducing labor. I was also given medication to dull the pain from the induction. I slept a lot from the pain medication. Brian was there the whole way through—so strong for me, and so supportive. I woke around midnight with the worst pains. The medication had worn off. The doctor gave me more medication until they could take me to the operating room.
At 3:00 AM they woke me up and said they were ready for me. Brian had only just fallen to sleep then. The nurse stayed by my side telling me “It’s OK” as I cried and cried. I tried to relax, and I guess I must have passed out then from the anesthesia.
I woke up and Brian was there. I said “It’s over and I am not pregnant anymore, I just want my baby.” We cried together. An hour later I was allowed to go home and recover. We never found out the gender… but we loved that child and still do everyday.
We miss you, angel. Please keep watch over us. You were always wanted and always loved.