I experienced broken sleep for the past few days. I’ve been waking up at least twice every night. I think that the fact that I’m about to write about our angel baby is playing in my head. I feel it’s bringing up the fear to face certain feelings again. In my last post I published extracts from my notebooks, this time I’ll be writing my thoughts in this blog. I decided to share something very private and painful. I’m not here to tell people that my decision was the only one possible, I just want to tell about my story and the suffering that it caused. It was something so big and overwhelming that to this day it still feels surreal.
In 2017 we decided to try for a baby. By surprise I found out I was pregnant early in December, I didn’t think it could happen that quick. We were over the moon. We decided to keep the news for ourselves and our families, except for my manager as I was working as a child practitioner and I was afraid I could harm the baby by lifting the children. We went private for an early scan as I wanted to be reassured that the baby was fine even though I had decided to have public care. We heard the heartbeat and I can’t even describe the feelings that I experienced in that moment. It was something magical, the realisation that a new life was growing inside of me. We were going to be parents and we were already in love with that tiny baby.
The second scan we got was when I was a little over 12 weeks. Everything looked fine, the baby was measuring on track. We were very relieved, our biggest concern was if we could make a trip to Italy but the doctor told us that that wasn’t going to be a problem. After that scan we decided to share the news with other people and made a lovely post on Facebook.
I felt well since day one of the pregnancy, no morning sickness, headaches or cramps. I felt very lucky. I started to show straight away. I had a quite big bump by 20 weeks, that’s when we had the so called big scan or anatomy scan. We didn’t decide to have any testing prior to this scan as we thought that it wasn’t needed. My mother asked me early in the pregnancy if it was possible to do an amniocentesis in Ireland and I remember telling her that I didn’t want to do it, if just I knew what we were about to face just a few weeks after that chat. Her mother instinct felt that there was something wrong, I have no other explanation for it.
I remember we were sitting in the waiting room waiting to be called and we were so nervous. I thought it was normal to feel that way but at the same time I felt very uneasy. Finally it was our turn, the midwife started to ask me some routine questions and gave me a leaflet that was explaining the main genetic abnormalities that you would be able to see during an anomaly scan as the baby is much bigger and the function of his organs can be assessed in detail. She didn’t even give me the time to read properly and she asked me to lay down. I found it very rude, thinking back I believe that that appointment had a bad vibe since the very beginning.
We were looking forward to that scan because we wanted to know if we were going to have a boy or a girl. The midwife began to scan and she said I think it’s a girl, she was proven wrong later. I started to feel very uncomfortable and she noticed that so she asked me if I wanted her to stop but I told her to go ahead. After just a few minutes she stopped, looked at me and said that she had some concerns, one was the heart and the other was that the baby might have had cleft lip and palate. I was literally staring at her face in disbelieve while she was saying that. I felt as cold as a stone, I couldn’t move. I was heartbroken. I turned to Anthony and he was like me, just in complete disbelieve and shock, I burst into tears and said to him “what did I do wrong?” I was blaming myself that I didn’t do enough to protect our baby. We were seen by the Fetal Assessment Unit and by a consultant straight after receiving the news. They unfortunately confirmed what the first midwife found and they actually showed us what the problem was with the baby’s heart. They also told us that those type of abnormalities are associated with Trisomy 13 or Patau Syndrome and Trisomy 18 or Edward Syndrome. These babies have a really low rate of surviving outside the womb and if they do they will have important developmental delays along with health issues. All the future plans that I’ve been dreaming of were falling off like a castle made of cards. We were devastated. They brought us to a private room to give us some time and one of the midwives gave me the consent form to perform an amniocentesis, she said it didn’t need to be that day but I quickly filled that form and I was back in the room with the doctors shortly after. I remember the doctor saying to me “you didn’t cause any of this, it happened when the baby was conceived”. Those words were reassuring but unfortunately they couldn’t change what was happening. I would do anything in my power to change the course of the events. We went back to that private room and they told us that we would have the results back after a week so we booked an appointment. We stayed in the room for a good while but then we realised that our families were still waiting to hear from us and we were afraid they were going to worry. Anthony was the first one calling his parents. I needed to take some courage to do that call myself. I did in the car. I was heartbroken for them too. They just wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl and I was telling them that there was a chance that that baby wasn’t going to make it. It was horrible. While driving home I also had to text my brother and tell him the bad news. He was living with us at the time.
Once we were home Anthony called his work place and so did I to inform them that we had received bad news and we couldn’t go to work in the state we were in. We sat down on the couch and cried so much while holding our hands and in the end I was so exhausted I fell asleep. I woke up feeling the heart in my throat as I was realising that what happened wasn’t a bad dream.
Ileana, you and Anthony are so strong and I couldn’t be happier that he met you and that I get to call you my sister . I no what it’s like to suffer with anxiety so it breaks my heart to know u do too but good things will come I promise as long as long we have good friends and family, I love u both so much and of course my fantastic God child xxxxx
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You are amazing Ileana, what a beautiful and honest account of your experience.