Friday, January 2, 2009

The news. . .

Dave and I wanted more children, but after this experience, one night I told him that I just couldn't go through this anymore. The stress was unbelievable. We told family members. I broke down and told my assistant at work what was going on. At this point, it was so hard to hold in the sadness, but sadness was what I needed to express. It was so heavy. I felt like I was having to learn to breathe again. While that part has gotten better, I now walk around feeling as if I'm carrying a heavy blanket. I can smile and laugh and even feel really good, but deep down I still carry this heartache.
While we were waiting, we both would go through our ultrasound experience. Like I said, the only two markers seen were the cysts and the missing pinkey bone. Surely this was just a fluke. Surely we'd get good news. We even have an ultrasound picture where the baby is holding its hand straight out. There seem to be five healthy fingers.
And all the while I'm thinking, this just can't be happening to us. One out of 3000 (or is it 6000 or 8000? I've heard all three.). The odds just can't be stacked against us in that way.
Waiting allowed for a lot of soul searching. And wait we did. The call with our results never came on Friday. Nor did it come on Monday. I had the biggest headache that day from the stress, and at the end of the day, I called the doctor's office. Oh, the doctor had a conference to go to, and we're not allowed to give you the results. They're on his desk. We'll have him call you first thing tomorrow.
The next morning, I told my assistant that if the phone was for me, interrupt my classes. They called during a Kindergarten class on my cell phone (which I had lying out just in case). I took the phone outside and had to listen as the doctor told me that the results showed Trisomy 18. My heart fell. He suggested terminating the pregnancy because nothing would come of this. I asked him about the baby's heart, and he said he'd like to take a better look at it. He had seen no evidence of problems the first time around, and since this organ had already formed, if there were no problems, there wouldn't be. I have been holding on to that small piece of information ever since.
But sadness overcame me. My assistant suggested that I go home, but I knew I would just be miserable there, so I stayed at work. Once again, I would have to tell Dave the news I never wanted to have to speak.
That night was the saddest night I've had. There were no words. Only a lot of silence as we internalized what this meant. I wrote a note to my faculty and explained the situation. Here's a copy of that note:
Dear Teachers,
There is no easy way to even begin to say what I'm about to share with you, so please bear with me if I ramble. After having an amniocentesis, Dave and I found out that our baby has Trisomy 18. Basically, this is when the 18th chromosome has three instead of two copies. Before eleven days ago, I had no idea what it was. I wish with all of my heart that I could share something good about this. Chances are I will miscarry. If not, the baby could be stillborn. If it survives, it probably won't live longer than a few days. Most babies with Trisomy 18 don't live past their first birthday.
We are in shock. I mean, there's a 1 in 3000 chance of this happening. How invincible we felt!
It's not that I don't trust God, I do! But I'm not praying for a "normal" baby. If it's His will to give me and Dave this child, no matter what the outcome, I accept. Reluctantly. Instead, I pray for strength for me and my family and for the openness to be aware of what I'm supposed to learn from all of this. And for my baby to not feel pain. I welcome your prayers as well.
Please don't shy away from talking to me about this if you feel compelled to do so. I talked to my mother last night and she said, "I don't know what to say." That's ok. Neither would I in her situation, but I still need to talk about it. That's my personality. I may cry, but I welcome that expression of my feeling, especially if that's the emotion I need to help me get through this trial, but please don't feel uncomfortable with it.
I feel silly sharing this with you, but I'm being totally transparent. I feel as if I have had to learn to breathe all over again, around the pain we are all feeling. But there is so much to be thankful for! I have two wonderful daughters and Gabriel (oh, what am I putting them through with this?), friends, family, a great place to work, great experiences. My list goes on. Hopefully, to also include a beautiful son or daughter, regardless of his or her time spent with us.
A new journey has just started. This is the most frightning one because I have no idea where it's to take me. I really need to stop focusing on that and try to ground myself in today. This is not easy.
Thank you for being the wonderful faculty that you are. Thank you for understanding and for being patient with my story. And thank you for your prayers.
This is just the way I had to deal with it, and it continues to be the way. Dave is more silent about it, and I totally respect that. That doesn't mean that we don't talk about what's going on, we do. In detail. But I need to get this out! Actually, the more I talk about it, the easier it is to not break down when I talk about it. And I hear others' stories and I learn from others' experiences. Knowing that there are people praying for us gives me so much strength! I told Dave that there is going to be a day when neither of us will be the strength for the other. We will have to rely on the strength of others. I look at it as if they are out there building a wall for us to lean on. I check the strength of that wall occasionally.
Like I said in the letter, I'm not praying for the miracle of a healthy "normal" baby; however, I have told God that if he's willing to give us one, we're certainly willing to take one. Strength is one of my prayers, but I also pray for wisdom in the decisions we will have to make. That has been the hardest to think about, for there are decisions we're going to have to face that I wouldn't want my worst enemy to face.
I totally believe that God will never give us any problem that we cannot handle. I guess he thinks Dave and I are pretty special people to be able to handle this situation. (And I say that very humbly.) The thing about Trisomy 18 is that no two births are necessarily exactly alike, so even if we know the problems facing our child, there is no way to predict the outcome, so we have no idea what to expect. I lived in fear of that unknown future for months.

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