It was a routine appointment, I was 10 weeks pregnant and very excited to hopefully hear the heartbeat of my baby with the Doppler. I had my 4 year old with me. My doctor who I loved dearly said “I can’t seem to get the heartbeat, it might be the position of the baby, you can either come back tomorrow and we will try again, or we can do an ultrasound to see the heartbeat”. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, worrying about why she couldn’t find the heartbeat so I immediately took the offer for an ultrasound. I went into another room with my four year old to have the ultrasound. As soon as the ultrasound technician begin looking I could tell something was wrong, but she wouldn’t tell me anything, she continued to look and take measurements, then said she needed the doctor to come look. When my doctor came in she asked if it would be alright for my 4 year old to wait with the receptionist while she talked to me. I said yes, and please tell me what is wrong.
My doctor said she was very sorry but my baby had severe abnormalities and would not have any quality of life. Then she said, we can schedule you for a D and C. Wait, does my baby have a heartbeat I asked? Yes she answered but quickly followed up with we think she has spina bifida. There was bulging on the spine at the base of the neck and other abnormalities.
I asked if she could please give me the number of a specialist that I could see. She was able to get me an appointment with a perinatologist at 8:00 am the next morning.
As soon as I left that appointment, I called my husband, who left work and met me at home, and then I called my priest, he came to our house that evening, and prayed with us. He shared with me that he had a special needs sibling, and that is one of the reasons he became a priest. He explained how her special needs changed their perspective, and what other people viewed as a burden, or hardship, his family drew closer and saw the love and joy that came from this special child. He said it is not easy, but God will put people in your life that will help you every step of the way. I will never forget those words, and it felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. It was no longer a decision I had to make, to terminate the pregnancy, but asking God to give me the wisdom to understand His will for this special Child, and to give me the strength to do His Will in caring for this Child.
The next morning we meet with the perinatologist who did the 3D ultrasound (This was a big deal 20 years ago). My child was diagnosed with Cystic Hygroma. She had a bulge at the base of her neck, that was filled with fluids, and I was told there could be facial deformities, and blocked airway, and that she could die in utero, or shortly after birth. The more news I got, the worst everything seem to be.
I had so much advise given to me from well meaning family and friends, many encouraged me to end the pregnancy. But I also heard so many “miracle stories”. And even with the special needs and challenges I heard hope from the moms that chose life.
Through out my pregnancy I saw the specialist who did repeated ultrasounds. More bad news, more complications, but at 16 weeks, the bulge began to get smaller. The doctor said they could not tell how much facial damage had been done.
On January 16, 1998 I gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby girl, not only could she breathe on her own, she scored a 10 on her Apgar!
Doctors don’t know everything, but God does. He has a plan and a purpose for each and every life he creates. It may not be our plan, it is a better plan, we can pray for the strength and courage to see His plan come to fruition. With God anything is possible. Don’t ever lose hope. Remember “God will put people in your life to help you every step of the way. “ Looking back over the last 20 years, that is the best advice anyone has ever given me. It’s so true, and I have been so blessed with wonderful, faith filled, hope filled friends, that have felt the presence and power of God in their lives, and help share truth when life gets difficult. Hope – its a beautiful thing!