I am 37 years old and have a healthy 22 month old boy at home. My first pregnancy was a breeze, and I assumed my second one would be as well. At my 12-week ultrasound—which was the day before my birthday— my toddler got fussy so I told my husband to go home with him and that I’d call him after going over the results with my doctor.
My doctor walked in and said she had not liked what she saw on the ultrasound, including the absence of nasal bones and a high nuchal fold of 5.2, both indicators of Down syndrome. I was shocked. She advised me to go for a CVS immediately.
I was crushed. I’d planned to share my ultrasound pictures with the world on Facebook on my birthday as the big announcement and now everything was just on hold. I stayed up crying that whole night and researching everything I could online. The more I read, the more upset I became.
The next morning I scheduled the CVS for two days later. At the CVS appointment we spoke to a genetic counselor for about an hour before going in for the procedure. During the procedure as the doctor was doing a detailed ultrasound, he explained that he did in fact see two nasal bones. This gave my husband and I a brief sense of hope. But then the doctor noticed what appeared to be major heart defects. He was speaking in very technical terms to the resident doctor also at the procedure but from what he told me in layman’s terms, the heart did not form the four chambers, and that he was “very worried about this kid.” He advised that if we were to continue on with the pregnancy after the CVS results to see a pediatric cardiologist and have a fetal echo.
My husband and I were devastated. It was the first time I had ever seen him cry. And while we prayed and family prayed for the days leading up to the FISH results, deep down with all the research I had done I knew what the answer would be.
And there it was, two days later: Trisomy 21.
My decision to terminate was clearer than my husband, who initially wanted to continue with testing of the heart. But I was already almost 14 weeks and I just didn’t want to go through additional weeks of testing, especially when to me the choice was already clear. He agreed and we found a gynecologist office that was highly rated that performed pregnancy terminations. We scheduled the procedure.
It happened two days ago. It was the worst day of my life. I cried the entire time. I couldn’t believe how many other women were having abortions yet none of them looked sad to me. I sobbed uncontrollably, rubbed my stomach for the final hour before being called in, said prayers, apologized to my unborn child and professed my love. That hour was terrible.
I had to go in the back of the practice to a separate waiting area alone and dissolve two pills in my mouth that would soften my cervix. In the room behind me I could hear the sounds from other people’s procedures and was terrified knowing that would soon be me. The staff assured me my baby would not feel anything, explaining that when I was put under anesthesia the baby would be anesthetized as well.
When it was my turn, I cried and cried. When I woke up and it was all over.
The past two days have been torture. I know I made the right decision and in time things will heal, but the process was just grueling and scarring to me. I did not get any remains (it was not an option and I did not ask), and I’m just left feeling so empty. It’s surreal being pregnant one day and planning your gender reveal party, and then it’s all just gone, so unexpectedly. Nightmares race through my mind even when I am awake—where is my baby? When did the heart stop? Should I ask if it was a boy or a girl or is it better not knowing? As of right now I cannot know, it is too heartbreaking already. What if the initial genetic test was wrong?
I pray that in time these terrors will fade but I fear they will always be with me. To those of you going though similar experiences, I applaud you for your bravery, and I sincerely wish you strength and support.