Mom to Malach

Born and died September 17, 2007

Kalamazoo, Michigan

It all started with a positive pregnancy test as most pregnancies do. I was excited! We weren’t trying, but what are you going to do? I always wanted to be a mom and even though I was only 19 at the time I knew I could do it. My boyfriend was 25 at the time. It was our first child together. Everything about my pregnancy was normal. I got very lucky I didn’t have any morning sickness or any of the bad pregnancy symptoms.

Then we went in for our ultrasound on August 7th, 2007. We were all so excited. I couldn’t wait to find out the gender. I really thought it was going to be a girl. We found out we were having a boy. I was disappointed for a brief second, then I was over it. It was still my baby no matter what. The ultrasound took forever and then we went in to see my doctor. She said the arms and legs were short and they were sending us to a genetic counselor at a different hospital. We didn’t really think anything of it, just maybe our little boy would be short or maybe he was a dwarf…no big deal, we could handle it, whatever it was.

A week later we went to the other hospital for another ultrasound. This one took forever, also.Then they took us into another room to meet with the genetic counselor. I didn’t like her at all. She just came in the door and said that our baby had Thanatophoric Dysplasia, a very fatal form or dwarfism. Then she got all huffy when I asked if there was any way that they were wrong, like I offended her, and she told me there is no way he will survive. I broke at that point. I was crying and I don’t remember much else that went on at the meeting with the genetic counselor. My boyfriend just put his arms around me and held me while the doctor continued to talk to his mom and my mom.

Later on, after everything was done, I felt so lost. I didn’t know what to do with myself. The worst part about the entire thing was the day we learned my son’s horrible fate. After we had gotten home, I was sitting outside and I felt him move inside me for the very first time, like he was saying, “I’m here, mommy, don’t worry, I’m alive right now.” I was so heartbroken, I cried myself to sleep that night.

Later, when I researched everything, I learned Thanatophoric Dysplasia is a fatal form of dwarfism. The arms and legs are short. That’s usually the first sign they see on the ultrasound. The chest cavity is also small, too small for the lungs to develop. There are both Type 1 and Type 2, and they’re the same except type 2 also has a skull deformity, which is called cloverleaf skull. Babies usually have 5 skull plates, but with clover leaf there are only 3 skull plates. Well, Type 1 is more common than Type 2, but my son had Type 2.

I remember when I was doing the research my boyfriend was with me and he wouldn’t let me look at any of the pictures. Now I’m glad he didn’t because even now, four years later, the pictures are still hard to look at.

They gave us another month and then had another ultrasound to see if thing were the same and they were. The doctor called me the next day to ask me what I wanted to do. I could go ahead with the pregnancy, go full term and have him normal, but it wasn’t advised because it’s more risky for the mother that way, especially with his head being deformed. Or, they could start inducing me now. What they would do is have someone stick a needle into the baby and he would die then they’d induce me until I went into labor and had him. I wanted to go full term just because I didn’t want them to kill my baby. The way I saw it was if God wanted him to die he would take him naturally. My boyfriend wanted me to get induced just because he didn’t want to lose me, too.

It was the hardest decision of my life, one that I continued to question every single day for two years afterwards.

I decided to go ahead with the induction and it killed me inside to do it, but the day we went in to be induced, miraculously the person who was supposed to inject the baby was sick! The doctor asked me if I still wanted to be induced and I was surprised I remember asking ,”I don’t have to get the shot?” She said, “No, you don’t have to get it, it’s just an option you have.” I was so relieved I didn’t have to get the shot. My son’s life was in God’s hands now! They started to induce me with pill called Cytotec. It took me 5 days to go into labor.

On September 17, 2007, when I was 25 weeks pregnant, my son was born at 4:18 p.m. They told us to pick a name we wouldn’t want to use again and we came up with Malach Gabriel. I still can’t remember how we came up with it. The pain was too much for me so they gave me IV drugs and I felt better until the doctor broke my water and I had to push. He was very tiny, 1 pound 7 ounces and 10 1/4 inches long. He was so beautiful, though; he looked like a little angel. I held him in my arms and he was alive. He looked so perfect to me. Both of the grandmas held him and then I got him back. My boyfriend wouldn’t hold him. He was in my arms when I watched him take his very last breath…he breathed in, then his little lip twitched and his mouth fell open and I knew he was gone. I held him a little while longer and then called the nurse and she came in and took him so they could weigh and measure him. After a while, she came back in while I was in the bathroom. When I came out a saw a little basket sitting on the tray table next to my bed and as I got closer, Malach was in it. They had put him in a little gown and hat and wrapped him in a tiny blanket. He looked so cute, like he was just sleeping. I held him again and then my dad got there and he almost left when my mom told him Malach was in the room. My dad is macho. He didn’t want to cry, but he came in and after a few minutes he held Malach and he cried. I’ve never seen my dad cry like that, which made me cry, and before I knew it my boyfriend had put his arms around me and he was finally crying. My dad handed Malach back to me and my boyfriend finally decided to hold him. I was so glad he did. After a while we had the nurse come and take him for good. It was around 7:30 p.m. and they told me I could go whenever I was ready too. I didn’t have to stay in the hospital. I was so relieved and hungry. We went home and ate pizza and that was the last time I ate for a whole week. I had dreams that he was still alive. I would wake up in the middle of the night because I thought I heard him crying, then I would cry myself back to sleep. The pain inside was so deep. I felt like I had a huge piece of me missing. I felt so empty. We had him cremated and buried at the foot of my boyfriend’s grandpa’s grave. I will love and miss him for the rest of my life.

I wanted another baby right away, but I decided to wait and I’m glad I did. I waited until I was at the point where I wanted A baby and not MY baby, and that took a long time. Finally, in December 2010, I got pregnant again and after dealing with preeclampsia and having to go on hospital bedrest when I was 36 weeks pregnant, I have a healthy happy little boy named Eli. He is the light of my life. I would not change anything that has happened because if it weren’t for Malach I might not have Eli. And I know for sure that because of Malach I will never take what I have for granted. I Love you Malach, and I miss you every day!

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  1. Cortney, I am so sorry for your loss. I have said a prayer for you that God would comfort you and that you would hold your son again some day in heaven.

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