This is Always Fatal

Feb 21, 2015 | D&E, Termination after 24 weeks, Triploidy

The little bubble on the screen looked like a jellybean to me, but that was my baby.

By A. H.

When I found out I was pregnant on April 6, 2007, my fiance and I were very happy. This would be the first child for both of us. We had decided right away that if it was a boy we’d name him Dominic Wayne, and if it was a girl we would name her Kaylee Lynn. “Lynn” was after my husband’s mother, who had passed away a few years earlier.

In early may I had an ultrasound. The technician said, “You are definitely pregnant” which made me feel better because I still didn’t quite believe it at that point. The little bubble on the screen looked like a jellybean to me, but that was my baby. The heart rate at 140 beats per minute, and that was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard. It made me cry happy tears.

Every four weeks I saw the doctor. I was tired a lot, but had no morning sickness or any other problems. In late May I caught a cold, but when I called the doctor about it he never called me back, so I found a new doctor. This one did another ultrasound and moved our due date back a few weeks from December 8th to December 25th. (We found out later it really should have been December 8th.)

At this ultrasound they tried to get her to move but she wouldn’t budge. They poked and pushed, but she stayed curled up in a stubborn little ball. Her heartbeat had risen to 164 beats per minute.

On June 19th we got married. It was hard to find a dress because I was already showing.

I had another ultrasound on July 31st. This is the one we had been waiting for, the one where we’d finally find out if we were having a boy or a girl. The tech said it looked like the baby was a week behind what they had thought, and said it looked like a girl. She wouldn’t say much else, and left to show the images to the doctor.

When she came back she said the doctor wanted to see us. I almost started crying. I told my husband that something must be wrong. The doctor came in and said our baby was measuring small, and that she had bubbles in her stomach, called the double bubble syndrome,or Duodenal Atresia. Also he could not see the back part of her brain (the cerebellum), and her hands were paralyzed into fists. He said these were symptoms of Down syndrome and some other genetic disorders. He asked whether I wanted to have a more detailed level 3 ultrasound, or do the amniocentisis. My husband asked the doctor what he’d have his wife would do, and the doctor said, “Have the amnio.” That’s what we decided to do, and we scheduled the amnio for the very next day.

I wish had gotten the ultrasound picture.

My husband and I were both upset and needed some distraction. We went to Galveston and walked around The Strand, then we went to the aquarium. Afterwards our friends met us for dinner at Chili’s. April made me feel better, telling me that they had said some the same thing to her about Jewel, and little Jewel was sitting there and she was just fine. So I quit worrying so much.

I felt my baby move the next day. While waiting two whole weeks for the amnio results, we shopped for baby clothes and nursery furniture. We thought at the worst it could be something mildly wrong, and we might have a more difficult time but we’d change our expectations and get by.

On August 13th the doctor finally called. I’d been sleeping and my husband was at work.

“How have you been doing?” the doctor asked.

“Ok, I guess. Just waiting for you to call me back with some good news.”

“Well, I’m not.”

He said my baby girl had a very serious chromosome problem called triploidy, or 69xxx. It meant that she had 69 chromosomes instead of the normal 46, or three copies of every chromosome instead of the normal two copies.

“So what’s going to happen?” I asked.

“This is always fatal,” he said. “It’s very rare for a triploidy baby to be born alive. Usually, the pregnancy miscarries—especially in cases of full blown triploidy which your baby has. The longest any triploidy baby has ever survived this was 10 months.”

He said I could either wait for the inevitable miscarriage or neonatal death, or I could terminate the pregnancy.

We saw a genetics counselor the next day. She showed me Kaylee’s karyotype which revealed her chromosome makeup. There really were three copies of every single chromosome. She said if I went on to have Kaylee, she would probably die immediately after birth if not sooner, and that I would be risking a massive hemorrhage.

We decided to terminate the pregnancy because did not want my daughter to be born and suffer. She was not in any pain while she was in me, and I wanted to keep it that way. Medicaid would not pay for an abortion, so I had to borrow the money. We would have to go to an abortion clinic because being induced in a hospital was much more than we could afford.

On August 21st 2007 I did the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I was 24 weeks pregnant and to get to the door of the abortion clinic I had to walk past a protester holding a picture of a dismembered baby and yelling at us.

Inside, the medical staff did another ultrasound, but I didn’t watch this one. They gave me anesthesia and inserted the laminaria sticks that would dilate my cervix. A few hours later I awoke to a lot of painful cramping. I went home and spent the rest of the day trying to sleep. My husband took care of me and I used a heating pad to relieve some of the pain.

The next day I had to go back to the clinic to have more laminaria sticks inserted. Again, they put me to sleep. When I awoke a few hours later the pain was terrible. The abortion clinic gave me a tiny envelope with Cytotec pills (known generically as misoprostol—Ed) in it, and instructed me to take on at 10:00 PM and not to eat anything. I didn’t even know what Cytotec was.

About 45 minutes after I took the Cytotec I started having contractions. They just kept getting worse and longer. I was throwing up all night, and screaming because it hurt so bad. Bleeding and in pain, I called the clinic nurse at 2:00 AM. She told me it was normal and she would give me a shot of a painkiller when I got back to the clinic. She told me not to take anything for my pain before then.

At 6:00 AM I returned to the clinic. They put two pills in my mouth and instructed me to hold them there. I started having more contractions, and this went on for another 11 hours. It was the worst pain I’d ever felt in my life. She gave me a shot of something that helped a little, but not enough. They gave me a hot water bottle to put on my stomach. At 9:14 am they put me to sleep so I could have my daughter. They did not let me see her or get foot prints. I woke up a few hours later bleeding badly but not hurting physically.

I bled for two weeks, and my breasts were leaking milk, which was really depressing. I went back to the doctor on September 6th. He said I was recovering well and that the pregnancy hormones were gone.

That was the hardest month of my life. I will always miss my baby girl Kaylee, but I believe what I did was the right thing.

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