Somehow, It Seems Important to Mark The Time

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It’s been 9 days. 9 days since a doctor told me that my baby boy’s heart had stopped.

9 days since mine stopped too. 11 days since we found out that our little guy had Trisomy 18 and he was unlikely to live. 38 days since we had our first ultrasound and had the doctor call us about “abnormal” results. 104 days since I found out I was pregnant and felt joy like I didn’t know was possible. Somehow, it seems important to mark the time.

When I was offered prenatal screening, I said yes without even thinking about it. Without asking my partner first, with no thoughts about what would happen if we got bad news, other than sort of a glib ” well, I’d want to know”. When we went for what I thought was my 12 week scan, the tech kept asking me how far along I thought I was, before telling me that I was at 9 weeks and 5 days, not 12. She gave me a picture and showed us the heartbeat, and told us to come back in three weeks.

Back we went 3 weeks later, with baby measuring 12 weeks and 5 days and heart still beating. They gave us another picture, which I proudly showed off. I was incredibly relieved – until a quick Google search told me that 3.8mm NT wasn’t normal. My family doctor told us the same thing later that day. I was devastated.

Reading online forum posts from people with much higher measurements whose babies turned out totally fine, I tried to convince myself that there wasn’t a problem. That my baby was beautiful and healthy and perfect. That became my mantra when I needed to calm myself down. When I needed to stop crying and worrying, I would repeat it out loud – to myself and to my baby. It didn’t work.

We met with a genetics counselor who was incredibly positive. She told us that most of the time, measurements like ours turn out to be nothing. (We were SO close to normal – how on earth can 0.8 mm in something so small even be measured, nevermind be an indication of a serious problem?) She explained our testing options and what the various things we would be tested for were. She told us about all sorts of rare, scary syndromes we had never heard of. She explained Trisomy 18 to us and then said “we would basically just be waiting for you to miscarry in that scenario.” Fine – nothing like that is going to happen to us anyway – our baby is fine.

Our baby was not fine. He died at 19 weeks old.

We were the one in 700. The one in 2500, the one in 5000. Pick a number that defines just how unlikely it was for our baby to have Trisomy 18 and then throw it out the window, because we were that number. We are a statistic. I am a grieving, heartbroken, bereft statistic.

I had to say goodbye to my little Jack before I even got to say hello. His dad had to sit beside me and grip my hand while we were told that our “baby had passed away”. He had to sit in stunned silence while I was given my medical options and had to help me decide what to do. He had to hold me while I sobbed all day, waiting for the phone call from the hospital that the surgeon had operating room time for me. He had to hold my hand while I waited for a D&E and tried not to think about the horrible thing I was about to go through. He had to help dress me after my surgery and he’s had to hold me everyday since while I cry.

While I fumbled and sobbed my way through the worst Christmas I’ve ever had — he’s been so strong and so brave for me. I worry about how he’s coping. I don’t for one second think he’s not as devastated as I am. I just hope he knows I’m here when he finally falls apart.

I don’t know what comes next. The second I found out I was pregnant, my whole life changed. I thought differently, I made decisions differently. I was so drastically altered, and happy to be. Then, with a funny look on the sonographer’s face and a “tell the doctor I’ll meet her in the hall”, everything came crashing down around me and all of a sudden, I wasn’t pregnant anymore.

What I’d waited so patiently for and wanted so badly is gone. Now I’m supposed to find a way to go back to my life as it was 5 months ago. Before I knew firsthand that random things that never happen, happen to someone. Before I was a mother without any children.

Photo credit: adapted from bigpresh| Flickr

— Kate

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