Riley’s Story

November 2021, I learned I was pregnant with my first child. Theodore Thomas was loved since the day I found out. I told my husband Sam on his birthday. We were both elated. My pregnancy for the first several weeks was relatively uneventful, despite having a subchorionic hematoma caught at 8 weeks that resolved and constant nausea and vomitting. I had IV treatments a few times a week during the first Trimester to keep my fluid intake up 

Several weeks passed and my husband and I picked out things for our registry, talked about childcare, scheduled showers with our families and picked out a theme for the nursery. We went with an under the sea/rainbow fish theme. We couldn’t be more excited.

I contracted COVID 19 when I was around 16 weeks, not much was known about pregnancy and COVID at the time, and my doctor put me on blood thinning shots for 10 days. I hate shots, but would do whatever my baby needed.

February 28th was our anatomy ultrasound, a day that feels frozen in my mind. Our son measured in the <5% percentile for size and for length of his long bones, an indicator for several genetic abnormalities. They recommended an urgent amniocentesis and a repeat ultrasound in two weeks. Those two weeks I was filled with anxiety but thought- whatever you need, I’m here for you. 

March 17th was our repeat scans- the day we found out that Teddy was now in the <1st percentile for size, <1st percentile for long bone length; he had malformations of his heart and genitals, as well as a malformation known as a cloverleaf skull. I initially felt in shock- whatever you need, I‘m here for you. I can fight, I am your mother.

The doctor, my husband and I reviewed the bigger picture- there was a possibility he could survive birth, but even that would be a feat. We asked the question no parent ever wants to ask- what our options were. 

Initially, we were conflicted, I felt the diagnosis was something I could conquer, that by holding on I could savor my time with my son and maybe things would somehow improve. My husband was much more of a realist, as a nurse who has worked in the pediatric OR, he knew what our son’s quality of life would likely look like, IF he happened to survive birth. Over several days of reading up on diagnoses, statistics and through a lot of thinking about what would be best for our family, and for Teddy, I decided that the only way I could protect my son from pain was by saying goodbye. I decided that what he needs is to leave us in the warmth of my belly surrounded by love, instead of being hooked up to a ventilator and fed through a tube for his short life.

We found our we were pregnant with our second child, our rainbow baby, in August. While they will never replace our sweet Teddy, we’re very excited to have welcomed this addition to our family in March 2023. 

Riley wears the rainbow skirt.  She is pregnant and holds a picture of small footprints next to her belly.

Riley and her husband hold hands.  They are holding a picture with their son's footprints.

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