After the totally normal pregnancy and birth of our first daughter, we expected the same of our second child. Everything appeared fine until the anatomy ultrasound at 20 weeks. We didn’t find out the gender of our baby, but we did learn that the kidneys didn’t develop, which is a fatal diagnosis. We did genetic testing just to confirm that this condition doesn’t run in our blood, and found out that the baby was a girl. We were given the option to terminate the pregnancy since life after birth is not viable without kidneys, but chose to continue with the pregnancy to get the chance to meet our little girl.
After this news we spent some healing time with family to process. 3 weeks after this visit my father-in-law passed away suddenly in a motorcycle accident. We didn’t think our family could be any more broken. Luckily, in the midst of the pandemic, we were able to hold a funeral for Chris Johnson, and during that time we decided to name the baby Christine Faith in his honor.
Bilateral Renal Agenesis is the absence of both kidneys, which causes several other problems in utero. Without kidneys, the amniotic fluid does not develop, and without amniotic fluid the lungs cannot practice breathing. However, a baby with this diagnosis can still survive in utero, which was a large part of our decision to continue the pregnancy. I felt a heavy weight, as her mother, that my body would sustain her until we got to meet her, even if for a short time.
Just before 35 weeks we scheduled the c-section, which was emotional enough, but 2 days later I went into labor. It happened fast, we didn’t have a hospital bag packed yet, and delayed believing this was real labor for about an hour before we left the house. My contraction counter was consistently every 4 minutes, but I think we were both in denial. We called my sister, who lived down the street, to come over to watch our toddler, and I called my doctor to let her know we were heading to the hospital. My doctor was an absolute angel and had given me her phone number, and got there as we were heading into surgery.
Christine was born the morning of September 6, 2020. She lived for 4 and a half hours, and was held by her mommy and daddy the whole time. Since no visitors were allowed in the hospital, no one else was able to meet her.
Around Christine’s 1st birthday, my rainbow baby’s egg was implanting. I took this as the most beautiful sign that Christine was blessing us with a sister whom she picked out just for us. My husband had his own conversation with Christine about not replacing her, but honoring her by having another baby. We’re so excited to meet our 3rd baby girl in May.
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