My husband and I got married in September of 2017. We patiently waited until April 2018 to go on our honeymoon. That month we decided “not to not try” and we were pregnant by May! Everything was easy and every appointment went as planned. The biggest scare we had the whole 40 weeks was finding out I had placenta previa at 20 weeks, which corrected itself by week 26. I had several friends who struggled with infertility or miscarriage, so I knew we were blessed and not take it for granted. Although the delivery didn’t go as smoothly as the pregnancy we were blessed with a perfect little boy, Nolan who officially made us a very happy family of 3.
This one was short lived. So short, that most of you reading this, even if you know me well, may not even know this happened to us. Before my son, Nolan, turned one I was ready for baby #2! In January of 2020, we had a chemical pregnancy. In other words, I was pregnant for a very short time. The pregnancy tests read positive, but within one short week the pregnancy tests never reached it’s darkest line. A loss is a loss. It didn’t matter how short it was. I was crushed. For that week, my new future was planned. I was expecting in September, Nolan was going to be a big brother and we were going to be a family of four. Unfortunately, that idea was ripped from underneath us quite quickly.
This one will live with me forever. It will be something I think about every single day. This child is someone I envision down here on earth and up in heaven. I get signs from her, at times I feel her, and I’m convinced Nolan feels her too. He says her name almost every day. Whether he sees her picture, holds his praying bear, or opens my locket he knows who she is. She will live on in my heart and family forever.
On May 2, 2020 I took a pregnancy test and tested positive. That whole week, I continued to take tests morning and night to make sure the line was getting darker. It took me about 20 days and 40 tests to be convinced this baby stuck and we were not having another chemical pregnancy. On May 14, 2020, my husband’s birthday, Nolan and I made a video to surprise him with the news! We were over the moon. Now we had a new future. Baby was due January 13, 2021. Overall, things were fine. I felt like I did before in the first trimester but felt a little more nauseous at night – everyone was convinced it was a girl. We were planning on being surprised again, because how many real surprises occur in life anymore?
At my 12 week scan, our lives suddenly changed. I went in for my ultrasound, the baby’s heartbeat sounded great, the little parts were growing and moving. Then, there was a sudden sense of silence. The ultrasound tech didn’t say very much, she just kept measuring this one spot on the baby over and over. Then she said, “Baby is a funny position, I’m going to do an internal exam.” I tried not to worry too much, but I knew something was off. She then said, “Baby has a large nuchal fold on its neck, I am going to bring you to the doctor through the back door.” I kept asking if everything was OK and she just said, “I’m sorry”. Sorry for what? The heart was beating!
I sat in the room, ripped off my mask and just cried. I called my husband in complete hysterics which of course, scared him. I kept him on speakerphone while the doctor talked. I couldn’t tell you what she said as the whole thing felt like such an overwhelming blur. I heard, “neck, large, cystic hygroma, genetic abnormalities”.
I was sent to Yale the next day for a procedure called a CVS, similar to an amniocentesis. The test was going to verify if the baby had a genetic abnormality and what our next steps would be. I was partnered up with a genetic counselor and the next few weeks were spent at doctors offices, on the phone with doctors, joining support groups on Facebook, etc. I had to be a mom to a little boy, and I will sadly admit it felt difficult. My life was consumed with sadness, research and questions.
It was confirmed our little GIRL had Down Syndrome with a cystic hygroma 5.2CM larger than what is considered normal. The cystic hygroma was larger than her head. The fluid started forming around her body. We were given a less than 10% chance of her making it full-term and a 20% chance she would survive outside of the womb if she did make it. Every doctor advised us to terminate, as they were worried there could be more complications the further along I was.
We thought about it, we did. We kept picturing our future with a medically disabled child, picturing Nolan’s life and how this would impact him, and for a while we were leaning more towards termination at one point. No one can judge, until you’re put in that situation. However, after connecting with many moms, hearing their stories and success stories, I knew deep down in my heart I needed to give her a chance. And that’s just what we did.
We named her Micaela Bree (Micaela: Gift from God / Bree: Strength). We started picturing life in a more positive light, we made connections and we were going to find as many resources as possible if we made it that far. We knew the chance of losing her was high, but we always knew we needed to leave that up to her. If she made the decision to go, then we felt at peace with it.
Just before 18 weeks, I had an appointment to go in for an echocardiogram. We were warned with our daughter’s medical condition the chance of her having a heart defect was very high. Once again, I was sitting at Yale alone awaiting the worst moment in my life. My legs felt heavy, my heart ached, there were moments that truly felt clouded. As I laid on the bed, the ultrasound tech said he was going to do several tests and it would take a few moments. My genetic counselor was able to come in the room with me so I didn’t have to be alone.
While he was doing the measurements, I knew in my heart she wasn’t alive. I had started to feel different, I didn’t have symptoms anymore and my stomach stopped growing. The silent room though, was the dead giveaway. I still held on to the smallest amount of hope and while I was patiently waiting to hear a heartbeat but I just never did. After what felt like a lifetime, he said, “I’m so sorry, there is no heartbeat.” This moment was unexplainable. In 1/10 of a second my heart shattered, yet I could breathe again.
On August 4th, I had a D&E to remove her. We chose not to go through delivery and meet her. I had a vision in my head what she looked like and I knew that would be skewed due to her medical condition. We said our goodbyes before the procedure. I wanted to meet her and have her SO bad. I know we would have been good parents to her. But deep down, I knew how life-changing it would be and felt a sense of relief. She made the decision to go, and after many long weeks of talking, praying, fighting, and believing we grew to be at peace with her decision. Life would have been different with her, quite possibly a beautiful kind of different though. I still have moments picturing her here with us. I picture beauty, I imagine Nolan growing a heart of gold taking care of her, I imagine teaching the beauty of difference and acceptance. One day we will meet again…..
The difficult part about this pregnancy is a lot of people suggested waiting, for emotional reasons. We got the question a lot, if we even wanted to try again. To be honest, I couldn’t wait to try again. I didn’t want time, or space to grieve, I wanted my body to heal and lose this emptiness feeling I had. I always knew I wanted at least 2 children, so trying again was definite. I wanted my family to feel more complete. When we were given the go ahead to try again, we did. Around Thanksgiving of that year, I had a feeling I was pregnant but it was too soon to check. Just about a week later, I had a faint line on my test. Here we go again! The worry, the disbelief, the questions. I was convinced it would just keep happening again, that for whatever reason I was going to continue to be punished.
Here I am, at 38 weeks pregnant with our rainbow baby and I still have moments of feeling really strong and other moments where I worry I am going to lose this baby too. We do not know if it is a boy or girl. It truly doesn’t matter. If I can hold this HEALTHY baby in my arms and bring him or her home to Nolan my heart will be complete. I find myself holding my belly often, waiting for reassurance from the baby he/she is doing ok. As we wait for these final weeks, I am anxiously excited to see what the gender will be, what the baby will look like, and how he or she will fit into my family. There is one thing I know for sure, this baby was handpicked by our girl, Micaela Bree, and for that, he/she will be perfect.
Baby boy, Greyson Joseph was born happy and healthy on 8/5/21. He was 19’’ and 6lbs 9oz. He has filled our days and hearts with so much joy. His big brother, Nolan couldn’t be prouder!
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