Mom to Justin & Baby #2
Born and died February 23, 2012 & Early 2013
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 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.
[Update] It’s been over a year since I first lost my son [at time of submission], Justin, due to undergoing a medical termination procedure and almost a year since I last visited this website. Unfortunately, it’s not with good news that I have returned having just been dealt another rather devastating blow of losing yet another child towards the end of January this year, this time through miscarriage.
I had only just recently discovered that I was pregnant again at around the end of December 2012 and all I can say is that having had been dealt with the devastating blow of losing my previous child through a medical termination and given the nature of his diagnosis leading up to the termination, I was less than thrilled about this child and most reluctant to want to go telling about telling others, including my husband. Not that I needed to concern myself with that, as my husband was right onto me from the get-go and basically was able to put two-and-two together and figure out was going on without so much as me even having to say anything.
Having him and others around me finding out about the pregnancy didn’t help matters, however, in terms of my stress and anxiety regarding having to undergo another nuchal translucency scan at around the 12-week mark – not that I need concern myself with that as it seems nature had already decided my unborn child’s fate for me.
At only around 10 weeks and 4 days into my pregnancy, I started to noticed a bit of spotting on my underwear, which made me a little nervous as I had not experienced this in my previous pregnancy and was concerned I might have been on the verge of having a miscarriage.
I finished up going and seeing my local general practitioner for a check-up and informed her of what was happening. She suggested that this was perfectly common during the first trimester of pregnancy and referred me on to get an ultrasound by an obstetrician in order to put my mind at rest, which I attended along with my husband by my side. Little did I realize that my worst fears were about to be realized as the obstetrician went to perform the ultrasound on me. She had a little difficulty locating the baby and when she finally did manage to locate it, she found what appeared to be a gestational sac with what appeared to have a marked inconsistency in terms of the baby’s size as opposed to what it should have been considering how far along in my pregnancy I was. It seems the baby’s measurements only seemed to correlate with that of a 6 week and 6 day old embryo, and to make matters worse, she couldn’t locate a heartbeat. Straightaway that told me everything I needed to know – I’d lost the baby and now it was just a matter of either waiting until I passed it or getting a D&C (Dilation and Curettage).
That night, I was seated down with my husband in front of television eating a meal when all of a sudden I found myself getting really bad cramping pains (like contractions). I went to get up to make my way to the bathroom when all of a sudden I felt this warm sensation in my pants like my waters had just broken, and I knew I was miscarrying the fetus. Before I knew it, I was passing what looked like fetal material along with big clots of blood, which just seemed to keep coming away. What’s more, I seemed to keep bleeding heavily right up until late afternoon of the next day and was experiencing dizzy spells and nausea every time I stood up to walk anywhere. I finished up having
to get my husband to drive me to my doctor’s appointment at 1:00 p.m. only to have her send me home despite me informing her of the fact I’d miscarried and had been passing clots of blood. Later that afternoon, I started experiencing more cramping pains, along with the bleeding and knew I was in trouble.
I went and informed my husband of what was going on. I was in so much pain and distress at the time that I was literally in tears as I told him, “It hurts! I think I need to get some help,” to which he replied, “Do you want me to take you to the hospital?” to which I replied, “YES!”
My husband ran me down to the local hospital in Laidley, where I waited around in the waiting room for medical assistance to arrived. I was then taken into the medical bay and the intern did a full vaginal inspection for any blood clotting and hooked me up to a saline drip. The medical staff proceeded to take my blood pressure and temperature as well as blood ops, while trying to establish a medical history before transferring to Ipswich Hospital for an urgent D&C. On the trip over to Ipswich Hospital in the ambulance, I remember being in so much pain that they had to administer me some Pethidine to inhale in order to help ease the pain. Upon arriving at Ipswich, I finished up undergoing a D&C, followed by an overnight stay in the hospital and blood transfusion with two pints of 0-type blood being pumped into me because my hemoglobin levels plummeted to a critical level of 74 grams per deciliter of whole blood – so basically I consider myself lucky to be alive.
I wasn’t until around about 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon of the second day that I was finally released from the hospital. I was picked up and informed that there was a severe thunderstorm in Ipswich the night before that my husband had to go through while following my ambulance. I swear, I must have been so out of it at the time as I honestly couldn’t remember a thing being in so much pain and so drugged up on Pethidine at the time. I swear there could have been a hurricane going on around me at the time and I wouldn’t have known about it.
The hardest thing I found I had to deal with in my experience of losing the second baby was the guilt of believing it was something which I’d done that caused the embryo to cease to thrive in the first place. It brought back up for me a lot of the feelings I had over losing the first baby, which I felt I’d dealt with but obviously haven’t. It caused me to question whether or not I was really ready to be a mother again so soon anyway, as was suggested to me in a counseling session by my counselor when he said, “You’ve never really gotten past the loss of the first child, have you?” to which my answer was, “No”.
The truth is, I don’t really know how long it will take me until I really feel that I’m ready to take the plunge into motherhood again or the likelihood of experiencing another tragic loss. But one thing I do know is no matter how many children I may have in the future I will never forget my first two children.