Editor's Note: This was written at 2 weeks post loss, Wednesday 18 January, I just published it Friday.
The baby who didn’t make it
The link above is to a very poignant article by Helena Holgersson-Shorter about the termination of her pregnancy for Trisomy 18. I could identify with almost everything, but particularly the "whispered confessions" of others. Below, on the two week anniversary of my termination, is the story of receiving the amino results, starting from where I left off in my first post "4 days later":
I was told not to expect results until Friday, or perhaps I was told by Friday, either way, I didn't expect results on the Thursday after my Tuesday procedure and I went to work; happy to be released from bed rest. I spent the morning obsessively on Google scholar looking up odds of seeing a normal scan with a T18 baby. (about 80% of the time they see some marker at the weeks gestation Blue Sunday was. I'd drop a citation but I don't want to Google it anymore.) I was eating a snack bag of Smartfood popcorn and then took a bathroom break. For some reason, I brought my phone with me-- my personal not my work. That was very unusual. I was just finishing up in the small, dark back stall when my phone started vibrating. I answered the un-programmed number and heard the Indian accent I was dreading. Just the tone of his "hello" and I knew it was bad. After the usual pleasantries he said "I'm sorry this is a Trisomy 18 baby". As if that was all about it that mattered. I suppose, it is all that mattered in the end. He asked me a few questions, but I just wanted to rush him off the phone, I don't even remember what they were. My legs were shaking so hard I could see them jiggling. I had sat back down on the toilet.
I made it back into my office and shut the door before I cried. I don't remember if I washed my hands, doubtful (yuck). Then I started crying, those awful loud sobs that you can't quite believe are coming out of you. I called hub, who asked if he could call me back because he was at the barber. I told him no, I needed him because our baby had it. Then I started wailing, he told me to come home and said he'd meet me there. Not the best way to tell your hub, but what could I do?
The next person I told after the confirmation of Blue Sunday's diagnosis was my boss. I think I mumbled something about how I'd be out for the duration of that week and all of the next, since I would have to terminate. She knew we were waiting on test results. She is the mother of 2 healthy tweens, and said to me, tears in her eyes "This happened with one of mine". While she cried and gave me a hug. Even in the moment, I liked that the baby was "one of" hers, and not something that happened to her. That baby was still a baby, not a horrible event.
Chris called me back just as I was leaving the garage. I know that he was grasping "Is this for sure, could they have made a mistake". I felt like I was breaking his heart every time I had to tell him that this was real. Our baby had this terrible disorder. He stayed on the phone with me as I made my way home, it probably took me 40 minutes. I did my best not to cry and make the drive home even more unsafe. I did an OK job. When I walked in I just collapsed into hub's arms. We sat mostly in silence until it was time for us to go over and tell my parents.
I live just a few blocks from my parents, something hub was very happy about (no sarcasm), so we drove over at about the time we thought they would be home for just a few minutes.. but we misjudged and they were still climbing the front stairs (22 of them). They both knew right away "Why are you here" they asked, panicked voiced. "Just go in" I tell them "it's cold". This volley happened a few more times but I got them and and was crying before I even said "The baby isn't going to make it. It has the disease". They knew the screening results, but everyone but me was so sure it was going to be negative. My parents did a great job actually, comforting me rather than breaking down themselves. They knew we would terminate and everyone is OK with that. No one wanted to bring a suffering baby into the world.
For the rest of the night we did what we always do- order pizza, drink beer (delicious and bittersweet after so long) and play cards. No one's heart was in it, but life must go on. Right?
The worst part, so far, was watching hub's reaction after he told his mother. He called her, because she has an opposite work schedule of us and getting together is hard. He had left the room to call, so I wouldn't have to hear. He came back in still shaky and crying. He had been so, so strong for me, it had been clear he was sad and disappointed but actually breaking down isn't his thing. His mom had known something was wrong, I stopped updating my "pregnancy!" album on facebook and Hub and I had called trying to get in touch with her more than we ever have in the past. She has experienced a m/c in the 2nd trimester, so she gets how hard this is for us. I think her kindness and understanding broke him a little. His stepdad called crying as well. Poor everyone.
So that leaves it as our families know, but not our friends, and I still am, technically, pregnant. More to come.