I woke up Sunday morning with this premonition that maybe I was pregnant. I decided to take a home test and after a few minutes....PREGNANT!!! I was giddy and excited. After I could not wait any longer, I woke up Rob with the good news. He was a little shocked to say the least. We just sat in silence with huge smiles. Once the initial shock passed, we prayed that God's hand will be in the pregnancy and for our future child.
It was our first doctors appointment. I was eight weeks pregnant and already feeling the effects of morning sickness (or night sickness in my case). As I was driving to the doctor's office, I was nervous and excited. My heart was pounding as I thought about seeing our baby for the first time. We started the appointment by having an ultrasound. On the screen, we could immediately see the heartbeat and the little flutter as it moved side by side. I exhaled in relief knowing that the baby was alive and that all was well. After the ultrasound, we had to wait for the nurse practitioner. We ended up waiting for almost an hour and it never once crossed my mind that it was taking so long because the doctors & practitioners were examining our ultrasound. Finally, they called us back. We met our nurse practitioner and had a very basic assessment & exam. We were able to ask several questions without any inclination that something was wrong. Then the nurse practitioner asked "Do you know how many babies you have?". My eyes got wide and I looked at Rob and answered "No". At that moment, my heart was racing and I thought I can not believe we are going to have twins. I have always wanted twins but what were the odds? Then she responded, "Well, you have twins BUT only one has a heart beat and the other baby appears to have something wrong with it's brain." BOOM.......Our world came crashing down as disbelief began to overcome us and tears started to pour. She gave her condolences and gave us a few moments. Rob and I just held each other weeping. Could this be happening? Is this really going on? I knew right then, that we could not keep the pregnancy a secret any longer. We had to tell our families because we needed prayer. It was a very emotional day of not knowing what "wrong with the brain" even meant. I thought maybe we would have a special needs child. Since I work with them almost everyday, I knew that I could handle it and God would not give me more than I could handle.
Even though I was emotionally drained from crying the day before, I went to work. I had my patient assignment and did my morning assessments. It was 8:45 and I called the perinatologist office per the nurse practitioner's request. I talked with the secretary explaining the ultrasound finding and how I needed to make an appointment. I was put on hold and then the secretary returned and said that the doctor wanted to see me right away. I told her I was at work and could I come in tomorrow and she said you need to come in now. Her sense of urgency made me very nervous. Thankfully, my manager was very supportive and we were able to find another nurse to cover my patients. By 10:15 Rob and I were in the perinatologist office. They preformed another ultrasound before we met with the specialist. We sat in his office as he explained how the baby referred to as Baby B had passed away 10 days ago and how, if at all, it's death would affect the other baby referred to as Baby A and the overall pregnancy. Finally, I interrupted and said "I'm sorry but they told us that something was wrong with the Baby A's brain". The Doctor was surprised by my statement and reviewed the scan and stated "everything looks fine to me". I just starred at Rob. Was there no more need to worry? Was our baby really ok after that devastating allegation? We left the office in silence and as we got into the elevator Rob said "Just be prepared that this might be an emotional roller coaster". Little did we know that he was foreshadowing our pregnancy to come.
Two weeks later, we returned to the perinatolgist office for a follow-up appointment. I was ten weeks along and they wanted to ensure that there was proper brain development. Rob & I went to the ultrasound room and started our scan with the nurse. As soon as the baby was focused on the screen, I knew that something was not right. The baby's head looked abnormally large. I looked at the nurse and said "It is not normal, huh". "No, I don't think so. Let me go get the doctor." The doctor returned and informed us that indeed the ultrasound showed that the baby had anencephaly, a condition were there is no skull developed over the baby's brain. Typically, such babies can survive in utero but the brain will be washed away by the amniotic fluid. This condition is not conducive with life and they die within hours after birth. The cause of the condition is unknown, however, it is closely linked to low folic acid. I did my best to stay composed and to ask questions even though my mind was racing. The doctor was very matter of fact as he explained the condition. Then he stated "I would really recommend termination". I knew immediately that that was not an option for Rob or I. The doctor responded "Well you need to think about it because there are increased risk for toxemia due to the brain getting washed away". I felt that maybe he was trying to intimidate us but I can understand how legally he needed to make us aware of the risks. I reassured him that termination was not an option. Rob and I went home utterly broken...grieving the future loss of our child, grieving of the dream of child. It was devastating and heartbreaking. However, I had a weird since of peace. Peace that God was meeting us in our brokenness and I did not feel angry or doubt towards Him. I had negative thoughts towards myself though. Like what if I had only taken more folic acid (even though I was taking it prior to getting pregnant) or if only I had done blank. I know in my head that I cannot dwell on such thoughts and realize that sometimes things happen, but it is difficult to release myself from the trap of thinking that maybe I could have done something to prevent the situation and save our baby.
It had been five weeks since the confirmation of the devastating news and we were coping the best that we could with the situation. We went into the perinatologist office with the thought "Well, at least it can not get any worse". We had another ultrasound and after a few minutes the nurse said "Let me get the doctor". Rob and I looked at each and thought now what is going on. The doctor returned and said "It looks like you have an acardiac twin. I'm really sorry, but this is as bad as it gets." Baby B, who had passed away at 7 weeks, was still growing from the waist down. This means that Baby A's heart is pumping for both of them and it is decreasing the amount of nutrients that the baby gets. Due to the stress that this places on the baby, the likelihood of the baby surviving in utero is only 25%. This was another blow for us because up till this point we were hoping and praying for the chance to meet our baby and hold it as it passes. While we knew that God could still provide us with the opportunity it was hard to not be further discouraged. We also received news that the acardiac twin will put increased stress on the placenta which in turn increases my risk (which was already high) for preeclampsia. The doctor once again encouraged us to terminate. However, right now I am healthy and our baby is alive. I am not saying that I am going to risk infertility, organ damage, or my life, but Rob and I are going to do all that we can to honor this LIFE.
I am eighteen weeks pregnant and now physically seeing the effects of pregnancy as my stomach is getting bigger and bigger. This journey has been one of unexplainable heartache and pain, however, I also have never more clearly seen God's hand in a situation. He has provided me with a godly husband whose number one desire is to serve the Lord. Rob has had amazing wisdom and strength during this time. I know that I could not do this without him holding my hand and walking beside me. God has blessed Rob and I with amazing families who are 100% supportive and faithful prayer warriors. He has allowed friends to support us in ways that we did not even know that we needed. He has placed strangers in our pathway who have shown us that even in this darkness there is light. He has given me strength to get out of bed when I did not know if I could. I don't know how God is planning on using this situation, but I am clinging to the fact that He will. Who knows if I will ever see the affects of it but I know that this horrible situation is not for nothing. Rob and I want to thank everyone for your prayers and support. We continue to ask for them. We need prayer for my health, that God will protect my body during this entire pregnancy. If I do get sick, we need prayer that God will give us guidance and peace with our decision to induce labor. We ask for prayer that God will use this situation for others so that they might see God's love and grace. Please, pray that we will continue to have endurance to go on with everyday life. Lastly, pray that we find joy in the midst of this situation and treasure all the time we have with our baby while it is safe in the womb. Thank you once again. OUR HOPE ENDURES through Christ....