Sheyenne
Mom to Whitney Jill
Stillborn on February 11th, 2010 at 31+ weeks
Carried despite adverse prenatal diagnosis
Fresno, CA

My husband and I have been married 6 years. About 3 and a half years ago, we decided it was time to start our little family. After 3 years of fertility tests, treatments and trying with no success, we decided to start an adoption. We were ecstatic about this and in July 2009 we sent in our application to adopt a baby boy from Ethiopia. However… On July 31, 2009 I had a hunch and took a pregnancy test– it was positive!! To say we were shocked is an understatement! And that is where the story of our precious little girl, Whitney Jill, begins.
It was clear from the very beginning that this little life beginning inside of me was all God’s doing. It was as if God wanted us to know all along that this baby was not conceived by any of our real efforts… Not the medicines, not the testing, not the doctors and certainly not our timing.
Everything was going well in the first trimester of my pregnancy. I only had a tiny bit of nausea, no puking and for the most part, I felt great! By my 4th month, I barely had any baby bump showing. I thought it was just because I have a small build. From the very beginning, I had an uneasiness about my pregnancy. I attributed it to the difficulty we’d had getting pregnant, and first-time-mom nerves. But on the day we went for our “half-way there” ultrasound (I was almost 19 weeks), that feeling got stronger. Before Sean and I left our car to go into the doctor’s office, I look at him and said, “No matter what happens, we are in this together, right?” He hugged me, told me I was silly and reassured me he’d be by my side every step of the way. We prayed then went in to find out the sex of our baby.

Its a Girl!
I work at a pregnancy center, and have had the privilege of seeing many ultrasounds. Its part of my job– and its great! By now, I can pretty much tell “girl parts” from “boy parts” at first glance. When the sonographer moved her wand over my still-small belly, I saw the three little tell-tale lines… A girl! Sean said he knew from the beginning that it was a girl and to be honest, I think we were both slightly disappointed. (I had thought all along that it was a boy.) But as the sonographer continued to check out our baby girl, we began to fall in love with her. While I was watching our baby on the big screen in front of me, I noticed some of the measurements that the sonographer was getting… Her head seemed to measure correctly with where I should be, but her tummy was measuring very small… Several weeks behind. When the sonographer was taking a close look at her heart, I could see three bright spots that I knew I hadn’t seen before on any ‘healthy baby’ ultrasounds. I wasn’t really sure what that all meant, but I knew it wasn’t good.
Something Is Wrong
After the sonographer had thoroughly checked and measured our baby, she told us she needed to go talk to the doctor and she had us wait in the waiting room. I knew that wasn’t good. We’d seen several couples go in before us for ultrasounds… They got to just leave when they were done, smiling as they exited while looking at the black and white pictures of their little baby beans. When we finally got to talk to our doctor, he said there were some ‘soft markers’ that concerned him. It could mean some kind of genetic problem, but most likely it was nothing. He just wanted us to go to the Children’s Hospital to have it checked out by a more sophisticated ultrasound machine. Our joy of finding out the gender had been quickly dampened by the fear of the unknowns and what was to come. Our doctor told us we needed to get in for that appointment as quickly as possible because we were running out of time. “Running out of time? For what?” I thought. He explained that we only had a limited amount of time left terminate our pregnancy, if something was wrong. WHAT?! Was he out of his mind? Just half an hour earlier, I saw my baby girl’s beating heart on a huge TV screen. ‘Terminate’ our pregnancy? Get rid of our baby girl?! I couldn’t believe what he was saying.
Sean and I decided to go ahead and go out to eat like we had planned. (We’d said earlier if it was a girl, we’d go to Olive Garden. If it was a boy, we’d go to a seafood restaurant in town.) We ate a great dinner at Olive Garden, celebrated the fact that we now had a daughter, and tried to not worry about what could go wrong. We chose her name– Whitney Jill– and prayed and cried out to God to heal our daughter.
The next few weeks were a blur. It was right before Thanksgiving, so things like our test results were delayed a bit. After nearly a month of testing (and being advised multiple, multiple times to ‘terminate’ our baby), we found out through an amniocentesis that our worst fears were coming true… Our baby had a fatal condition called Triploidy . She could die any day. Most babies with triploidy don’t make it past 8 weeks’ gestation. It was a miracle our baby had made it to 22 weeks. We struggled. We grieved. We prayed. We sought God. But when it all came down to it, we knew that Whitney was God’s from the very beginning, and we chose (against the advice of our doctors) to continue to carry Whitney until God took her home. We would not choose to stop her heart… That precious heart we saw beating on the screen. God had blessed us with her little life for some reason, and we determined to honor both God and our daughter by continuing to carry her in love.
Meeting Whitney
The weekend before Whitney was born, I got really sick with a cold. I had meetings I could not miss on Monday, so I went to work, but on Tuesday, I was so sick and exhausted I literally could not get out of bed. I’d never been that sick in my life. Monday night, my husband and I used a fetal heartbeat monitor we had rented online to listen to Whit’s heartbeat… She was still with us. What a sweet sound it was. We had no idea it would be the last time we heard that sweet sound. Tuesday night, I started to have contractions. I was coughing really hard, and every time I did, it would increase the contractions. I called the hospital, but the doctor told me to jus t try and get some sleep. I went to bed Tuesday night but didn’t sleep at all… The contractions were less than 5 minutes apart. The only reason I didn’t go intot the ER that night was because they weren’t getting any worse. Wednesday morning, I called my doctor’s office. He told me to go into Labor and Delivery right away. To make a long story short, this was when we found out Whitney’s heart was no longer beating. As I sat in the pre-delivery room with other expectant moms, their babies’ hearts galloping away, my nurse tried for 20 minutes to find a heartbeat with the doppler. Nothing. She then brought in an ultrasound to look for the heartbeat. The ultrasound screen was so still. She was gone. We made arrangements to deliver Whitney the next day… My mom was flying in from Egypt as we spoke. I wanted to wait to have her with me.
Whitney was born into heaven on February 11, 2010 at 12:58 p.m. She was 13.6 ounces and 26 centimeters (about 10.5 inches) long. She was perfectly formed. Beautiful. Everything about her birth was more than I could have ever hoped for. By early ultrasound measurements, I was 31 weeks when Whitney was born. However, because of the triploidy, her growth was extremely restricted and my doctor estimated I was really more like 32 or 33 weeks pregnant. Because of that growth restriction, WHitney was just so tiny… The size of a 22- of 23- week baby.
I would be lying if I told you this journey was easy. I would be lying if I said that I was strong every day. Multiple times throughout our pregnancy, I needed my husband, family and friends to remind me of God’s goodness. But God is good. And His loving compassion is written all over the pages of our story. I hope and pray that this compassion is evident in our daughter’s life. Carrying Whitney as long as she was alive has been the single greatest blessing of my life thus far. I’m still navigating this “new normal”… Finding out what it means to be a Mom, Interrupted. It is my heart’s desire to share Whitney’s story so that others in similar heartbreaking positions may find the same peace, comfort and compassion.

Sheyenne blogs at www.whitneyjill.com
You can contact her at sheyennew AT gmail DOT com
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Comments

  1. Shey- I've heard Whitney's story before, but it still manages to bring tears to my eyes. You are such a great mom, and you love Whitney so well. (((hugs)))

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