It is the kind of thing that happened to “other people” and we just couldn’t believe that our family had to go through this.
As a little girl I dreamed of my future complete with a handsome husband, a successful career, a house with a white picket fence, fancy clothes, fast cars and beautiful, healthy children. I always wanted at least two children. I never realized how important that part of my dream was until I lost a child. Then rest became insignificant.
I was fortunate enough to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian. I bought my first house right out of vet school and married my handsome, perfect college sweetheart. I sold my old car and leased my brand new dream car a year into my career. Life was perfect….almost.
When we decided we were ready to start trying for a family, I was nervous. Knowing that I always wanted to be a mother, I often worried that I would be unable to get pregnant. It was fear of the unknown coupled with such a strong desire to be a mom. When I did indeed become pregnant, I took seven pregnancy tests to confirm that my pregnancy was in fact for real. My husband and I couldn’t have been happier and neither could our families. Our baby was going to be the first grandchild on both sides. Our families were beyond ecstatic. I told one of my best friends that I couldn’t believe I worried all of those years about an inability to become pregnant. We laughed that I had been so silly and worried over nothing.
I did everything “right.” I started a prenatal vitamin months before I became pregnant, ate as healthy as I could, walked every day and stayed clear of anything dangerous or harmful to my unborn child. My pregnancy was pretty uneventful though I did have some cramping early in the pregnancy and a wicked case of morning sickness. At one point I joked to my husband that he was going to have to carry the next one if he wanted another because I hated being so sick. Now I would give anything to be puking my guts out with a baby inside me.
At one of our early appointments, the doctor gave us information on genetic testing/screening. My husband and I are both under the age of 30, both extremely healthy and have no history of genetic problems in our families. Still, we decided that since there was no risk to the baby or me, it was worth doing. Besides, it meant an extra ultrasound and we loved any excuse to see our baby.
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out there was something abnormal when the sonographer started my ultrasound scan. She appeared confused and kept taking the same measurements over and over. The nuchal fold was very, very thick. She paged a doctor who repeated the scan and then advised me to get dressed and meet her in the conference room. I squeezed my husband’s hand and choked out the words, “something is wrong.”
The doctor told us that there was a 50% chance that our baby had Down syndrome or some other chromosomal abnormality. We were in shock. I couldn’t even cry. We scheduled a CVS for two days later and we drove home, trying to focus on that other 50%. I called in sick to work for the first time in my 4-year career. I called my mom at work and told her she needed to come right over, that “something was wrong with the baby…” Saying it out loud was all it took to start the waterworks. I couldn’t stop crying for days.
My mom, my husband and I just kept saying that this kind of thing never happens to “you.” It is the kind of thing that happened to “other people” and we just couldn’t believe that our family had to go through this.
Things got worse before they got better. The CVS was painful and horrible but was nothing compared to the news we got three days later. Initial FISH testing confirmed that our baby did indeed have a chromosomal defect and that it was Trisomy 18, a condition that was “not compatible with life.” Those four words haunt me every day—“not compatible with life.” In a sick, twisted sort of way we were thankful that the condition was so severe because we felt that the decision was made for us. My husband and I wanted what was best for our unborn child, our family and our future. We saw no point in delaying the inevitable and putting ourselves, our parents, our friends or our unborn child through an agonizing, drawn out death sentence. We set up an appointment to terminate the pregnancy.
In the two months period following my surgery, two of my friends, one co-worker and one relative have all announced pregnancies. Two more of my friends gave birth. One of my friends had a baby shower for her twin boys. And all I have is an extra five pounds of leftover pregnancy weight, a subscription to Pregnancy and Babytalk magazines, a life-sized gorilla that started my jungle nursery theme, two ultrasound pictures of a little boy whom I will never meet, and a broken heart.
I have never been a patient person. Waiting three to six months to start trying again is already proving to be the most trying task of my life. I want so badly to have a baby growing inside of me and to know that I still have an opportunity to be a mother. I would gladly give up my car, my house and my wonderful job for the joy of being a mother.
I always knew I wanted to be a mother.