Mom to Francesca
November 25, 2012
We were in Inverness, Scotland enjoying out first family holiday and my period was four days late. Since returning after Isabella’s birth two years ago my period has always lasted 26 days so I thought something was up, but I simply put it down to traveling and hormones not going well together. I did buy a pregnancy test because that’s what I always do. I had the choice of buying a cheap one or the same brand one I bought when I got my first ever BFP with Isabella, for some reason I bought the expensive one, perhaps I wanted it to be a sign of good things to come. I didn’t tell D I bought the test cause I never tell D I buy pregnancy tests because he would talk sense into me and when it comes to peeing on sticks I like to keep it that way. Anyway, I did pee on the stick and it came back positive within two seconds, it was unbelievable. I could not believe what I was seeing. I had dreamed of this moment for years before going through the whole IVF roller coaster and I had planned on so many different ways to break the news. When it finally happened, for real, what did I I say… ‘Holy sh** D, holy sh**!!’ Yes, that’s what I came up with to tell D we were pregnant. He thought I had remembered of something else I had forgotten along the way, as I literally left a trail of our belongings behind during our road trip. I said : ‘no I am pregnant!’ The looking his face was a mix of ‘are you taking the piss’ and ‘I am so happy’. We were so thrilled to find out we could get pregnant naturally and that we were pregnant! It was a dream come true for the second time. What perfect timing too as we were planning IVF when we got back. All was working out like a dream for once. We went to the local hospital for a blood test as one of my tube is blocked and the other damaged which puts me at high risk of ectopic. The midwives we met were all so friendly and welcoming considering we were tourists. We got the first beta as a strong 165 and two days later it had more than tripled. All looked as it should. We were on cloud 9. It was all magical.
The day after we got back I went to see my obgyn and she did a scan and I was able to hear the strong heartbeat and see the fetal pole and everything looked just right. It wasn’t ectopic, it was REAL. I sent the picture to D who could not come by with me and Isabella for the scan. We as overjoyed and it made the pregnancy very real for the both of us. I was 5 weeks and 4 days. I wasn’t going through this pregnancy as a ‘special’ IVF lady, I was just ‘another pregnant’ lady this time. So I was not going to have scans and check ups every week, I would have to wait 4 weeks for the next appointment. I felt a bit alone and scared not knowing if everything was ok or not and wondered how other women did this. I suppose they don’t know any different. Anyway, compared with Isabella this time around I had very bad all day sickness. I could not eat anything without being severely sick, I lost a lot of weight and I felt even more worried something was wrong. I researched and read all the books and everything seemed to point to being ok, morning sickness and losing weight seemed absolutely normal. I waited and waited and by the time 5 weeks went by my morning sickness was much better and I felt more relaxed although I was still a nervous wreck going in for my appointment. I was 10 weeks 6 days when I went for my appointment. Isabella held my hand as I laid on the bed, she was excited to see the baby, i was glad she wad holding my hand. I needed that so much as D could not be there as the appointment was in the middle of the day. As soon as I saw the baby and heard the heartbeat I felt immediate relief. There she was, beautiful and perfect and looking like a baby. I cried because I was so happy and relieved. The baby was not moving a lot but the doctor just said she was a chilled out baby who was probably napping. I liked the idea of a quiet baby who liked sleeping, considering Isabella hate for sleeping. The doctor was so sweet she even gave Isabella a picture to hold of the baby. I sent the picture to D who was overjoyed. The doctor told me about the nt scan and given the fact I am only 32 it’s optional. I said that given we did it with Isabella we would want to do it again this time. Secretly I just wanted to see my baby and make sure everything was ok and perhaps find out the sex even though I had a gut feeling she was a girl. I made the appointment for the the following Wed. D made sure he would be there and we spent the week thinking of boys and girls names.
Wednesday the 14th of November came around and I could not hold my excitement. We got to the appointment late but we got there. The centre is a specialized centre that does these tests and amnios and more invasive tests and nothing else. I felt secure in knowing I was in good hands. I first went for my blood test and then for the much anticipated nt scan. The doctor seemed lovely and didn’t mind the fact that Isabella kept on singing and playing with coins as she performed the scan. D finally got to see the baby in person and was amazed to hear the strong heartbeat. The baby was very still again so the doctor tried to get her moving but she would not, I ate a sweet but nothing. She decided to do an internal u/s to see if she could get better look at the nuchal fold. The baby was moving a bit more now and the doctor managed to get all that she need to see. In hindsight she was very quiet through the whole scan which should have given it away as something being wrong but I really didn’t see what was coming. At the end I said what a good little baby she was and how strange she didn’t like moving too much. That’s when my world collapsed. The doctor said that the baby didn’t move much because there was something wrong. The baby had a thicker than normal nuchal translucency, she also had a herniation, a single artery in her umbilical cord and no nasal bone. Her strong heart rate was 189 which is pretty fast, too fast. Our baby was in trouble. My world collapsed, how could this be happening.
The doctor and D spoke percentages and possibilities, all I was doing was crying, I stopped just to get it together when Isabella started asking me if I was ok. I had to pull myself together, she could not see me like this. The doctor mentioned termination as our baby looked very sick, she didn’t push it but she mentioned it as if to prepare us. She also mentioned how some trisomies are ‘incompatible with life’. I wanted to rewind and go back to a place that was safe, a place where this was not happening. This could not be true. She suggested I do a CVS as soon as possible to make sure of what she had seen, we booked it for the following Sunday. She told us the risks of miscarriage and what it would consist of . I never ever pictured myself doing a CVS, my mum lost a baby at 5 months after she did an amino and getting the results the baby was perfectly healthy 4 weeks later, I didn’t want to this to be me. I didn’t want to lose this baby. She told us that given the findings of the u/s she would cancel the blood work as it was no longer necessary. We left the office feeling like we were living in a nightmare. I had to run to the toilet because I could not stop the crying. I could not comprehend what was happening to us. I was supposed to shelter and protect this baby, and here I was unaware she was not well and I didn’t even know it. The days melted into one long panic attack, I could not cope with what was happening. D and I spoke about the possibilities and we waited for the test and the results of the NT hoping they would give us some hope. The results arrived and they were even worst than we had imagined. The baby and 1 in 3 chances of having trisomy 13 and 1 in 4 of having downs and 1 in 15 of having trisomy 18. The odds were pretty horrible.
So Sunday came around and I was a wreck, I didn’t want to do the CVS I was scared of the possible risks and I was afraid to know what the results would show. I was also concerned about the actual test but having being through IVF twice I felt prepared, I could get through this too. A good friend of mine came along to stay outside with Isabella so D could be in there with me which felt good as I needed him there and I needed to know Isabella was well looked after too. They told me to have a full bladder as my placenta was posterior and my uterus retroverted. I drank too much water and my bladder was literally about to burst so I took about 6 trips to the toilet trying to empty it, in the end the doctor just told me to empty it completely because she said I would still have a pee left inside, I definitely overdid it. Before we started the doctor checked to see the baby and afterwards both D and I both admitted of being relieved to hear the heartbeat and seeing the baby was more active. However things looked even worse in terms of measurements, the NT fold that was 4 last time was now 6 and the herniation we had hoped could still go away was still present. I felt like i was breaking inside but i also knew that doing the CVS was the right thing to do now. A nurse sprayed my belly with an antiseptic spray and then the doctor told the other doctor in the room where to hold the ultrasound. She then told us not to look at the needle as she approached but to concentrate on getting though it. The pain was not as bad at first, it just felt like period pain but the further in she went the more painful it got. I just was squeezing D’s hand so bad trying to stay still and I started telling the doctor to stop. She told me she could not stop as she would have to start again, so I started breathing just like I did when i got contractions with Isabella and that made the pain more bearable. Before the procedure D and I made a joke about how doctors always refer to pain being like period pain, we wondered what kind of horrible period pains they get because it never does feel like period pain! Once I felt the needle going in and out I knew that it was almost over so I felt more relaxed.
After the procedure the doctor took the sample to another room to make sure she had enough. I never prayed so badly to ask for it to be enough, I could not go through another one of these tests, it had to be enough. When she finally came back and said it was enough I was so thankful. D got to see the cells she extracted I was in no state to. The doctor then did another ultrasound to make sure the baby was ok and she was, bless her she was sucking her thumb. After the NT scan the doctor asked me if I wanted the DVD of the test and I said no, i could not picture myself wanting to see it again but after thinking about it I wanted it, so in told the doctor then. She also gave me a few pictures of the baby as she was then after the CVS, little did I know it would be the last times would see my angel. I am so glad I asked for the pictures and the DVD. The doctor told us that the majority of babies with all the medical problems as our baby don’t make it to 12 weeks, majority of babies die early on in the pregnancy. This made me think our baby was such a fighter, to have made it this far, to have made it at all agaist all odds and now with all her medical problems. She was our fighter.
After the procedure I had to stay in a relaxation room for about two hours to make sure I was ok and after that I was released to go home. Isabella, my friend and D kept me busy and my mind occupied. I had to take it easy over the next two days but I felt fine overall and had no bleeding which was reassuring. D took the day off which was nice as he really looked after me and ran after Isabella for me, just what I needed. We had to wait about till Thursday for the results and it felt like the longest week ever. I researched all sort of information on trisomy 13 because reading the signs of trisomy 13 and what our baby had I found a lot of similarities. I looked up lots of hopeful websites which told a different story that the ‘not ccompatible with life’ I was told about. There are kids who live to be teenagers, our baby could make it, she could be a survivor. I also read stories of parents who decided to termite the pregnancy because the baby would not make it, because they didn’t want the baby to suffer unnecessarily. I read it all and the more I read the more I felt like it as not my place to decide. Every inch of my body and soul told me to protect my baby, to hold onto her tight because she was my own very miracle. The more people told me ‘your baby is not compatible with life’ the more I held my belly tight and told her I would not give up on her. I never thought I would be so pro life but then again I never have been out in this situation before.
Thursday came around I waited for their call but they didn’t call, so I called till 4 and then I called them. My results were not in yet so I had to wait till Saturday as they are closed on Fridays. Part of me was relieved I didn’t get the results and that I got one more day of peace, I think part of me knew the results would not be good. When Saturday came around I called them at around 11 as I could not wait any longer. I felt ready to get the results. The doctor told me the news, the news I already knew, our baby was a girl. She also had trisomy 13. The world got a hell of a lot darker. As much as one prepares you for what is to come, you never are ready to get news like this. She spoke of termination again or to continue with the pregnancy knowing our baby would most probably die before I ever got to give birth to her. I felt a fog coming over me. I would have to decide. I hated every minute of every talk D and I had over this. He is so pragmatic and thinks clearly under pressure even this kind of stress. I always think with my heart, I would also hurt myself to see something I believe in through. I am not going to go into the details of this as it’s too raw and personal.
The next morning was Sunday the 25th. I had an appointment with my OBGYN to discuss the results of the CVS. Isabella run a high fever all night with no other symptoms so we stayed up all night with her. The next morning I told D to take Isabella to the doctor and I would go to my appointment alone. After all we already knew the outcome and I would pass on the recommendations to D afterwards. I hated every minute I had to sit in the waiting room packed with other pregnant ladies. I hated the fact my baby might never make it that far, I hated that I might never get to hold her and feed her, change her diapers. When the nurse called me in I told her I forgot my pregnancy booklet, she said must be pregnant brains. She tool my weight and I lost more weight, I started crying when she cheerily asked me how I felt. The doctor called me in soon after. She had gotten the results and was so sorry. She went over our options and mentioned again how our baby was not compatible with life and how we could either terminate or carry the pregnancy. she told me what i already knew, that most doctors don’t operate just merely offer palliative care for the baby. She also went over the psychological aspect of carrying a baby knowing I would probably never take her home and that she could be gone at any moment. After we discussed these options I told her if she could check my baby as I had not felt her moving much, I never felt her kicking bug I felt butterflies and I knew it was her. I stopped feeling her moving Friday but I just thought I had not been listening properly because I was so emotionally drained.
The doctor turned the machine and there she was my beautiful Francesca. The doctor looked and looked but she was gone. My baby had passed away. She was 13 weeks and 3 days. She is my angel. I will never carry her in my arms but she will forever be in my heart and soul.
Laura can be reached at http://pleaseletthisbeit.