Mom to Justin
Born and died February 23, 2012
It was on the morning of the 20th December, 2011 that I noticed that I was pregnant with my first child and my initial reaction was one of joy and adulation, mixed with a certain amount of anxiety and apprehension regarding the pregnancy at the thought of breaking the news to family and friends around me and the` unknown’ in terms of how they’d receive the news. I also didn’t want to go getting too excited too early on in the pregnancy given that it was still only early days.
So initially I just kept the news to only a small handful of people, including my husband, Otto, and some close friends of ours, as it was decided that it would be best to hold off informing my family or others for that matter until we were closer to twelve weeks. So much for that, though, as I managed to blurt out the news to my parents and the rest of my family at around the eight to nine weeks into the pregnancy, only to discover they were actually happy for both me and my husband and that some of the stress and anxiety I’d been experiencing about telling them had all been for nothing.
For the first time in the pregnancy I felt as though I was on cloud nine. Little did I know at the time that those feelings would only be short lived.
It was at around the twelve week mark, during a routine Nuchal Translucency Scan, when the medical staff first detected that something wasn’t right with the baby. I never forget particular day, going in for the scan and having my mum there beside me for support and seeing my small miracle up the screen in front of me for the very first time. It looked so adorable as it just lay back having a nap in its mother’s womb. It was only later on when the physician left the room and came back with a rather discerning look on his face expressing concern over some the baby’s nuchal fold measurements, especially around the back of the neck and the abdomen region, that I first knew something wasn’t quite right.
My mother and I were then called in to see the doctor to explain to us the overall combined findings of the Nuchal Translucency scan, combined with my age and blood test results, which increased my risk of a chromosomal abnormality from being a 1:300 to 50:50. This came as shock and dealt me a rather devastating blow to say the least, but despite the initial results I did my best not to lose heart and just prayed for the best.
Upon receiving my initial results, I was then referred on to the Mater Mothers Hospital in Brisbane for further testing, including a Chorionic Villus Sampling test, which I attended along with my husband, Otto. It was during this particular scan that the intern taking the scan picked up on the fluid around the trunk as well as the back of the baby’s neck and chest, which she exclaimed was consistent with that of a Cystic Hygroma (which is characterised as a problem with the baby’s lymphatic drainage, leading to other possible underlying structural anomalies). This prompted them to perform a Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) test, which I was told would take up to two days for me to get the results back, only for me I received my results within twenty-four hours of having the test.
I can recall that day clearly as I was downtown at the time upon receiving the call on my mobile pertaining to my CVS results.
I remember pleading with the lady doctor on the other end of the line, “Please tell me it’s good news,” only to be informed, “I’m very sorry, but I’m afraid your baby has Down’s syndrome.”
My heart just melted as it felt as though I was living in a nightmare that I just couldn’t wake up from. I found myself in the awkward situation of having an emotional breakdown right in the middle of town, barely able to hold myself together and being attended to by a total stranger for support as I found myself having to explain the situation to her in terms of what had just happened, all the while desperately trying to choke back tears.
After the initial shock and disbelief of hearing the devastating news had set in, I soon found myself running the gamut of emotions from: anger, despair, sadness, depression and finally the acceptance that this wasn’t all just in my head. That it was actually happening and sooner or later I would be forced to make a decision regarding my child’s future and that the outcome of that decision would not necessarily be the outcome I’d hoped for.
The hardest thing for me was the overwhelming feeling of not being able to let go. This was only the baby that I’d so longed for and the thought of having to go through and terminate my pregnancy so prematurely was more than I could bear when it was so opposed to my own maternal instinct; the objective was to love, nurture, care for and protect my unborn child and how could I just turn my back on that and ignore it?
What was even harder was dealing with the small-minded prejudices of my family and loved ones, as I broke the devastating news to them only for my protests to want to continue on with my pregnancy and mother this child to be met with stern disapproval from those closest to me, which hurt me deeply, to say the least, and left me feeling very much betrayed and abandoned. I felt I had no other option but to finally relent to their demands to go ahead and have a medically-induced pregnancy interruption.
It was only after much deliberation and pondering over my most unfortunate situation by weighing over the pros and cons from both angles that I finally reached the conclusion that there was no other option for me than to go through with a medically induced termination or risk losing everything, which was just devastating and gut wrenching for me.
What troubled me even more about this was that I had everyone telling me after it was over, basically congratulating me by telling me just how brave I was, how much they admired my strength to go through with this decision and that I done the right thing. But all of that just seemed like cold comfort for all the overwhelming pain and grief I was enduring as a result of losing my baby and the empty void it left inside of me, which no one could possibly fill.
More to the point, I didn’t feel brave, nor did I feel strong and I certainly didn’t feel proud of the decision I’d made, as it was a terrible decision for a mother to have to make regarding the life of her unborn child. All I could feel was an overwhelming sense of guilt and despair as my world came crashing down around me along with all my hopes, dreams and aspirations to be a mother to a beautiful bouncing baby boy and to experience the joy of giving birth to that child full term, which had just been so cruelly ripped away from me.
The thing that helps me to get by these days is the knowing that my little angel is in Heaven. I can only hope my dear little boy knows how much mummy and daddy love him and miss him and that he can forgive me for the ultimate decision I made.”