Casey and I were seating in the high risk/genetics waiting room with two other couples. I wondered what their stories were and felt oddly connected to people I didn’t say a word to. I brought my kindle so I could read while passing the time but I blankly starred at the same page for minutes. Kelly, the genetics counselor, opened the door and called us back to her office. We sat down and she asked, “So, how are you doing?” Out of nowhere, the dam that was holding back my fears, my worries, and my anxiety broke loose over those words and I began crying. She was empathetic and said she understood how scary everything was for us. She gave us a detailed explanation of gastroschisis and what that meant for our pregnancy and our unborn baby. We already felt somewhat prepared because of the research we did the night before. Then we went in for the ultrasound.
The ultrasound tech was warm and friendly. We got to see the baby and found out we were having a girl. Our hearts melted and we were so excited. Kelly came back to the room with the doctor. The doctor said that the abdomen of the baby seemed fine and there was no indication of Gastroschisis. However, the baby had extremely low amniotic fluid, which was a huge cause for concern. She said that most likely I had a tear in my amniotic sac, which was causing the bleeding episodes I had. That’s when she said the words that have been etched in my brain and burn in my memory. “We need to talk about termination of the baby”. My heart stopped. Our baby? The baby we just found out is a girl? The baby that constantly kicks me? She continued to talk but she could have been speaking Russian. I couldn’t comprehend the words she was saying because I was fixated on the “We need to talk about termination” part. Those words that effortlessly flowed out of her mouth became daggers entering my brain and slowly crept into reality. Tears began to stream down both of our faces and Casey gripped my hand even harder. The doctor said that there was not enough amniotic fluid for the baby to develop lungs and therefore she would not be able to live outside of the womb. She said that our two options were to let nature take its course and have the baby pass away after birth or to do the D&E procedure (abortion). We were at 20 weeks and a D&E is only legal until 24 weeks. She let us process the information and everyone left the room. Casey and I just held each other and cried. How was this possible? What went wrong? I can’t accept this reality. I. Am. In. Complete. Shock.
We returned to Kelly’s office and I stared at the picture of her adorable family on her desk and wondered if that would happen to us. Last Christmas, Casey and I had both sides of the family over at our house as we hosted our first holiday in our new house. We sat down for dinner and I felt a gush and ran to the bathroom. Blood. Was. Everywhere. I was having a miscarriage of our first baby at 9 weeks. We spent the rest of Christmas in the emergency room. Casey in his winter sweater and slacks and me with a hospital gown, perfectly curled hair, and mascara running down my cheeks. This was supposed to be our rainbow baby.
Kelly explained to us that there was really no chance of survival for our baby at this point. We could do the D&E procedure, which would take approximately 15-20 minutes, and they would put me in twilight sleep or we can go into labor and give birth to a baby that can’t breathe. She also encouraged us to get an amniocentisis so we can test for any chromosomal abnormality, which might account for the lack of amniotic fluid. She gave time for Casey and I to talk. I took out my notebook and felt like I forgot how to hold my pen or even write. Again. Complete. Shock. We held each other and just cried. We then started making the hard decisions. We decided to go with the amniocentisis to help us answer questions. Since Casey was with me, we decided to do the test then and there.
We went back to the ultrasound room and the doctor came in. The ultrasound tech gave me a hug and had me lay down. I couldn’t look at the needle so I instead fixed my eyes on my husband who kept his eyes on me. The doctor pulled out two vials of reddish brown fluid. She said this wasn’t a good sign either and that the fluid should be a clear/yellowish color. She also injected me with blue dye to determine if there was a leak in my amniotic sac. Kelly asked if we want to be put in for a referral for the D&E since it might take a while to schedule. At this point, there was no hope so we agreed.
The receptionist called to schedule my phone appointment with the nurse for the D&E. We agreed on 2:00pm that day. She then told me that after the procedure I would be able to talk to someone about birth control options. I was shocked. I am not in anyway judgmental or opposed to women having abortions. I strongly believe that it is not my business to have any say over what a woman does or doesn’t do with her body. However, to feel so judged after getting the worst news of my life was another hit to my already frail self. I snapped back and told her that I wasn’t doing this willingly and I don’t need to know birth control options. I’m almost 30, I have been with my husband for four years, and we have been trying for a baby for a year.
The nurse called at 2:00PM and I felt the baby kick. I couldn’t talk to her. I couldn’t schedule the appointment to end the life of our little girl that felt so alive to me. I cried on the phone and apologized for wasting her time but I couldn’t schedule the D&E. I wanted a second opinion first. I wanted to know if there was a Hail Mary shot somewhere in this grave situation.
The rest of the night was a blur. We cried. We discussed options. I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Fox. Family came over. I drank a sh*t ton of water and stayed on complete bed rest. I played, “Outta my Hands” by Dave Matthews Band over and over and cried some more.