With the anniversary of your death approaching, I felt that it was even more fitting to join in a weekly blog feature where parents share about their experiences with losing precious children. This week we begin with sharing the first part of our journey - the day we found out something was wrong with the precious life inside of me.
It was week 19 of our pregnancy, and we were beyond excited to go to the ultrasound. This was the moment we were to find out if we were carrying another boy, or a girl. Arriving at the clinic, we couldn't wait to get into the exam room. The technician began the scan, and we watched and waited. From our first pregnancy with our son, we knew some of what the technicians look for in the 19 week ultrasounds. This one kept zooming in on the umbilical cord. It was then that I knew something must be wrong. I thought briefly to myself, "There must only be two vessels in that cord instead of one". I quickly pushed that thought aside, and kept on trying to enjoy the ultrasound. The technician was quiet, patient, and took her time. She seemed to focus a lot on the heart and the umbilical cord. I tried not to think about that.
After we were done, my husband went back to his office, and I went home. I visited with the babysitter and saw her to the door. After I put my son down for a nap, I went to my room to lay down for a bit. My phone rang. It was my doctor. Not even an hour after our ultrasound, he was calling me. I picked up the phone and answered with a feeble "Hello". The doctor replied, "Erika, I just received the results from your ultrasound." The sound in his voice was enough to make me start crying already. "There are some very concerning things regarding the results that I need to tell you about...first, they only found two vessels in the cord - instead of the normal three." My instincts were correct. I badly wanted them to be wrong. He continued, "They also discovered a large cyst on the cord, as well as some unknown concerns about the heart." At that point, I began to weep. He heard the tears, and tried his best to console me by saying "It will be OK...this is no guarantee that something will be wrong, but we want to keep a very close watch on this baby - we will schedule you for regular high-risk ultrasound appointments and the Maternal Fetal Medicine Center. It will be OK." I thanked him for calling, dropped the phone, and just wept. I cried out to God, pounding the wall saying "Why me? Why... this only happens to others, but not me?!" The past few years I had come across a few blogs where mom's had documented their journeys with their babies that they lost. Hearing the words from the doctor that day sounded so familiar to the other stories I have read.
I called my husband immediately and told him the news. We both were in shock, but remained as calm as possible. We never gave up hope that the condition of this baby wouldn't be bad - just mild, and an "easy fix" once the baby is born. Little did we know, during that time, the little bit of positive outlook throughout our pregnancy would end up being our "calm before the storm".
Several weeks of long extensive appointments at the high-risk center just gave us more details about possible conditions of this baby. The only definite diagnosis we received was at 30 weeks when we found out she was a girl - who we named Hannah Joy. Secondly, she has an extremely unique chromosome condition - so unique that it is the only documented case of it in this world. As for knowing her outcome after she is born - the diagnosis did not help at all. Every bit of her health and condition was unknown. One high-risk doctor gave her a 70% chance of being completely healthy, 30% chance of having severe health issues. Again, we felt helpless. The unknowns were hard for us to take. We knew the only thing to do was to give it all over to God - put Hannah's life and well-being in God's hands. There was nothing we could do on our own but trust that God would care for her, and care for us along the way. We loved our daughter from the very beginning. God gave Hannah to us - and we knew we would love her and care for her all of the days of her life.
And that we did.
To be continued next Monday when I will be writing about the waiting period...the time before Hannah entered this world.