I am not a writer, nor do I pretend to be – so bear with me. I was inspired to begin a blog to break the silence surrounding miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss.
First, let me begin by telling my story: “the happiest story in the world with the worst ending.” This quote came from a book I began reading recently, called An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination, by Elizabeth McCracken. I could not think of a title more suitable for my first blog.
My husband, Ryan, and I thought we did everything right. We dated for close to 2 years before we got engaged, and then were married close to 2 years after that. We both graduated from college, had jobs, and after multiple discussions, decided to “not try/not plan” for a new addition to our family.
A little research led us to believe that it would probably take a few months to successfully conceive. Well, SURPRISE! On February 27, 2017 (the first month of our “not trying/not planning”), I had to squint to see the faintest of lines on a home pregnancy test. Ryan couldn’t see it, but I could swear that there were in fact 2 pink lines! After about a thousand more pregnancy tests for confirmation, it really started to sink in – We were going to have a baby! WE were going to be parents!
So many emotions ensued: nerves, fear, excitement…”Oh, gosh, how do we even tell our families?!” Our baby would be the first grandchild on both sides, so we wanted to make it extra special. Ryan and I decided Easter weekend would be perfect, as we had already planned to gather with family – we made something special for each of them and anxiously awaited the day.
We spent a lot of time guessing how each of our family members would react. We knew that they, and especially our sisters, would be elated, but also expected some level of shock from our parents. Just as we expected (and after the initial shock wore off), both of our families were overjoyed to welcome this new, sweet blessing with wide open arms.
Everything seemed to be progressing well with my pregnancy. I had an ultrasound at 6 weeks + 4 days, where we saw a little “blob” on the screen, and another at 9 weeks + 3 days, where our little one was measuring perfectly, and looked like a peanut. We were still in disbelief that we had created this perfect, tiny life that was growing inside of me. Our next appointment was the appointment that we were finally able to hear our baby’s heartbeat with the handheld fetal doppler. This was just over 13 weeks pregnant, and I swear that sound was the best sound I have ever heard.
Ryan and I frequently pondered who our baby would grow up to be, and how different, but fulfilling our lives were going to be. We picked names, and talked about how I secretly hoped for a girl, and him a boy. We couldn’t find out soon enough!
Mother’s Day was quickly coming up, and we thought it would be so special to schedule an elective ultrasound for a gender reveal, and invite both of our moms to come along. We successfully made it out of the first, and into the second trimester! What could go wrong? We were in the “safe zone,” now… right? Our appointment was scheduled for May 16th, which marked the turning point of our happiest story.
The ultrasound technician put the cold goop on my belly, and we all eagerly anticipated seeing the baby. To us, the baby looked perfect: 10 fingers, 10 toes, wiggling around, and waving, but the room quickly filled with silence after the technician excused herself. I immediately knew there was a problem. My heart was racing, and my brain trying to assess the situation, with about a million thoughts going through my mind. A second ultrasound tech entered the room, and told us she was just going to take some measurements of the baby to send to my doctor. We all stared at the large screen in complete silence and disbelief as she began. The silence was only broken when she told us, “you’re having a little girl.” None of us reacted.
I spent the next day with agonizing anxiety, staring at the ultrasound photos given to us. What could be wrong with our little girl? Despite knowing how detrimental Dr. Google can be, we became close friends that day. I was sending my mom and husband pictures of babies with a condition I learned of called Hydrops Fetalis. It is a rare condition, but I was convinced that was what our baby had. My doctor was not in the office that day, so I wouldn’t be seen until the following day.
The next day, I received a phone call from a nurse at my doctor’s office. She told me that at my ultrasound, baby’s abdomen was measuring large, and my doctor wanted to see me that morning. Once again, I laid there as the goop was squirted onto my belly. I was not able to see the ultrasound screen this time, and the tech was again very quiet. I listened to the clicking of the ultrasound machine, and time seemed like an eternity. Once she finished, we went back to meet with my doctor, and my worst fear was confirmed. Our precious baby was diagnosed with cystic hygroma, and hydrops with pleural effusions. My heart sunk when I heard the words, “I am so sorry, but because of your gestation, your baby most likely will not survive to term.”
At that point, I was immediately referred to a high risk doctor, where loads of tests were performed to determine the cause. Everything came back normal, except for the genetic screening, which was inconclusive…twice. I then had an amniocentesis, and after what felt like ages, learned our baby’s diagnosis of Turner Syndrome (45x).
Ryan and I lived on an emotional roller coaster. Could this potentially resolve? There are plenty of high functioning adults living with Turner Syndrome. Each week we saw the obstetrician to check for fetal heart tones, and each week we heard the beautiful galloping sounds of her heartbeat. I am very much a realist, but tried to remain cautiously optimistic, and cherish the time we were given with our baby. I even began to feel fetal movements around 17 weeks, and my body was constantly changing.
Unfortunately, the last heartbeat we heard was on Thursday, June 22nd. On Tuesday, June 27th, I called my obstetrician, as I had not felt Adalie moving around like she usually did, probably for a day or 2. In my heart, I knew that our baby had passed, and I tried to mentally prepare myself for my appointment. Let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing that can prepare you to hear the words, “I’m so sorry, but there is no heartbeat.” Adalie Grace Potts was born still on June 30, 2017.
My plan is to continue to write about my labor and delivery experience, bereavement, and life after having our baby stillborn. My hope is that my experience will touch others, and spread awareness. Stay tuned.