Thursday, March 10, 2011

On the home stretch...and remembering the day everything fell apart

I am 37 weeks and 2 days today.  I had my weekly OB appointment this afternoon and the doctor said that baby has dropped a cm.  I swear it feels like more than that, as my pelvis, hips and lower back are starting to ache!  My belly is itching like crazy and the heartburn has gotten a little out of control.  I feel very blessed to have this baby inside me, but I'm SO ready to meet baby and have my body back!!

I have two days left of work and I can hardly wait.  Every day that passes makes all of this much more real.  A friend of mine who was due two weeks before me had her baby today via c-section.  He is absolutely adorable!  I can't wait to finally meet our baby!  It feels like we've waited so long!

Every so often my thoughts drift back to a year ago, and the anxiety we were feeling today.  On this day, we had our appointment at Mount Sinai.  I remember sitting in the waiting room, and thinking "everyone that's here is having some sort of problem with their pregnancy".  But then we'd hear occasional chatter and laughter from the ultrasound room and our hopes would rise with the sense of optimism in the air. 

When it was finally our turn, we were escorted into the ultrasound room.  Hubby was able to stay with me the entire time, and there was a giant LCD screen where we could watch the ultrasound.  The doctor was polite but not overly friendly.  We figured she was just trying to focus on her work.  I remember watching the screen and trying to make out parts of Olivia's body.  It wasn't easy and occasionally I would ask a question, and she would give me single word answers.  The ultrasound took nearly an hour, which felt like a lifetime!

She left the room to consult with the head doctor, and came back approx 15 minutes later with two people in tow.  One of them was a Dr and the other was a med student.  The head Dr was very friendly and said he wanted to take a look.  He ran the scanner over my belly again, and then told me to get dressed and meet them in a room down the hall.  It was very difficult to read their reactions and what was happening.  All I knew was that I was quietly praying that everything was ok (and hubby told me later that he had his fingers crossed through the entire ultrasound).

We went down to the room to wait, for what felt like an eternity.  Finally the two doctors and student returned, and i noticed he had a box of tissues in his hand.  Immediately my heart fell.  We could tell by the look in their eyes that the news was not good.

He explained that Olivia had exencephaly, essentially her skull hadn't formed properly and her brain was exposed, protected only by a thin layer of tissue.  She also had a severe cleft palate.  He explained that she couldn't survive outside my body.  He said that we had two options: early termination, or wait for her to pass away, which could happen anytime between that day and the end of my pregnancy.  Either way he made it very clear, she would not live.

I remember the pain in my heart, it hit me like nothing I've ever experienced.  Hubby held my hand and put his arm around me, which was good because otherwise I might have fallen over.  It felt like our world was crashing down around us. 

The doctors said we could leave and consider our options.  We decided that there really wasn't a good option, and we didn't want to delay the inevitable.  Carrying a baby that we knew would eventually die would be much too painful.  We decided to proceed with the early induction and asked for the paperwork.  We had to wait about 20 minutes, and I remember all I wanted to do was get the hell out of there.  It felt like the walls were closing in, and I just wanted to get the paperwork over with and go home.

I remember leaving the hospital and walking to our car, almost in a trance.  I was so stunned by the news, I never imagined it would be something like that.  We both admitted later that we thought it was cleft palate or Down Syndrome, and both conditions were things we were filling to deal with.  We never imagined the diagnosis would be so extreme.

As soon as we were in the car, I fell apart.  I never knew my heart could ache so badly.  It felt like a cruel joke.  Then i had to call my family.  They knew we had the appointment and kept emailing and calling for an update.  I remember telling my sister, and she started to sob.  She put my dad on, and he fell apart too.  I could barely talk I was so upset.  And there was nothing anyone could say to make it better.

We got home and did everything we could do support each other.  The hardest part was feeling her move and kick, like everything was ok.  Every kick was a cruel reminder that we were about to lose the baby we never had a chance to meet.  All I wanted was it over with, so the hurt would stop and we could move on.  But it wouldn't be that easy...

We now had to wait for the hospital ethics board to approve the procedure, since I was past 20 weeks.  After that the appointment would be scheduled.

We heard back the next day, and the induction was scheduled for March 17 - just over a week later.  I couldn't believe they were going to make us wait so long!  Hubby was headed to Chicago for a convention, and the thought of him leaving was too much to bear.  So I booked a flight and decided to go with him.  I figured it would be easier to pass the time in another city as a tourist, than sit at home and wallow in my sadness.

And so began one of the most painful weeks of my life...

1 comment:

  1. This story breaks my heart. I can feel your pain reading this...I can't even imagine how hard that decision had to be for you and your husband. Especially when you write about how she was moving and kicking. It is so unfair that we have to endure things like this. I am really hoping that this next week is gentle on you as you prepare for the birth of Olivia's little brother or sister! ((hugs))