As my thoughts spun out of control, my anxiety worsened. Oddly, at that moment one of my friends texted me “breathe” (yeah, she’s a social worker too. We are all about feelings, deep breathing, and fuel-efficient cars). It was a nice reminder to be present and not to let the future overwhelm me. I closed my eyes, got into a comfortable position, and then…NOSE BLEED. Like, an epic nosebleed. I ran to get tissues and then waited the nosebleed out for 20 minutes. Really? Nosebleed? As if I’m not already bleeding enough. I texted my friend about my epic fail and she told me that I was doing my breathing exercises wrong J Then Casey asked me if that was another place I was leaking amniotic fluid. I feel so fortunate to have people in my life that are empathetic, loving, supportive, and have the ability to cast a smile or bring laughter in the darkest of times.
After the epic nosebleed, I (cautiously) did some deep breaths to help regain my focus on the present instead of on the appointment at 1:40PM. The stillness brought some peace and I was connecting to the baby as I felt her move around inside of me. I then knew it was time to do something I had been dreading. Talk to the baby. Casey and I often talked to the baby. We read her stories and poems. We said good morning and good night to her. I reminded her of HIPAA after soldiers were done meeting with me for a session. We would tell her that we love her and place our hands on my tummy to try and get as physically close to her as possible. She was already apart of our family. I haven’t talked to her since last week when my whole turned upside down. I was scared. I didn’t know what to say or how to say it, but it was time to talk. I began with “I’m sorry”, which prompted tears to roll uncontrollably down my face. I told her that I was sorry I couldn’t provide the environment to help her grow and to flourish. I told her that I was sorry if she was in any pain and how I wished I could take it all away. I told her how much she is loved by her father and I and how we want so badly to hold her in our arms. I told her about the life I envisioned for her filled with love, adventures, and silliness. I told her that I was proud of her resiliency even though my body could not provide her with the nourishment she needed. I promised her that if she is not able to make it safely to our arms, never will we blame her for our pain, sadness, or hurt. Then I told her that no matter what, we promise to do what is best for her. I felt at peace.
Casey came home to pick me up for the ultrasound and we held eachother for a couple minutes. Although terrifying, this precious time we had before knowing the results of our appointment allowed for hope to exist. Hope was like a button hanging on by a thread. You wanted to preserve it for as long as possible, but you knew as the day went on most likely it would be lost. We still had our button at this point and we wanted to cherish it for as long as possible.
We settled ourselves in the waiting room with two other couples. The two couples just began talking about how excited they were to see their baby on their 12-week ultrasound. The brunette with the glasses asked the brunette with the short hair if she wanted a boy or girl. They bantered back and forth and talked about their other children…and then I zoned out. I felt like a glass with visible cracks but still appeared to have its shape. I tried to appear invisible because if they were to bring me into their conversation, I would have shattered into a million pieces. I too was fragile.
We were finally called into the ultrasound room and my heart was pounding against my chest. My entire world revolved around screen. Casey squeezed my hand and I had to remind myself to breath. Molly, another genetics counselor, was telling us about our options and asked how we were doing, but she was merely a background noise as my attention was fully focused on that screen. Heart beat. Check. Baby moving. Check. Then I could tell there was barely any fluid. I had no clue what the ultrasound was showing but I found some comfort in seeing our little one on the screen. The doctor came in with sadness in her eyes, bringing me to tears. The ultrasound was worse than last week. Despite all my efforts to raise my fluid levels, I wasn’t holding any amniotic fluid. We talked a lot about options and I asked her about holding on until the baby was viable, which was in only two weeks. She said that at that point the baby has “rights” and they have to perform desperate and painful measures to keep the baby breathing and alive. Basically she would be on life support and the outcome for survival without the machines would be non-existent.
I. Am. Heartbroken. Learning the imminent death of your baby feels as if you have an anchor around your heart and you have no choice but to follow the anchor and have your body sink to the depths of despair. As a mother, you instinctively want to protect your baby at any cost. Now the only way we could protect our baby would be to decide the most ethical and humane way for her to pass. I can’t think of a choice that is more painful or difficult than choosing the death of your baby. Casey and I left the office and walked around the hospital to get some fresh air and to regroup. The button of hope that was holding on for dear life fell off somewhere inside that office, but we did receive a gift of resolution.
Knowing there was no hope of life gave us permission to grieve. It felt like we were given a map with a known destination, whereas last week we were wandering aimlessly. We informed our friends and family of our heartbreaking news. Deb came over with an Apple Pie from our friend Lindsay. Family came over to sit with us in our pain…which as always, turns into positivity and laughter. We jokingly asked my brother-in-laws girlfriend to be our surrogate (which she actually never said no to…so I think there might be some wiggle room there). Then we talked about our desire to keep trying for baby. I realized then our hope was not lost in that ultrasound room. It was merely redirected.