Friday, October 9, 2015

The Diagnosis

By Joan's Mom
28 Week ultrasound 2_cropped_resized.jpg

The week of Mother's Day for us is also the anniversary of the days that changed our lives.  The 'abnormal' tests and the dreaded results.

On the morning of Monday, May 9th, 2011 I was jolted awake, sweating and crying, by one of the most vivid dreams I have ever had.  In the dream, I was sitting in the perinatologist's office and she said, "I'm sorry.  Your baby girl just died."  That's when I bolted awake.

The Friday before, we had our 20 week ultrasound visit.  The visit that is supposed to be a joyful, wondrous look at your baby and all of the miraculously developing organs.  Sometimes it is even the time when you get to find out if you are having a boy or a girl, but we didn't want to know.  We wanted to be surprised.

Our appointment was none of those things.  It was a dizzying blur of signs that something was not right with our baby.  Measuring too small.  Possible heart defect.  Two-vessel cord.  All 'markers' of a possible chromosome disorder.  The visit ended in an unplanned amnio, that I never intended to have.  And us going home to wait the weekend, my first Mother's Day weekend, for the preliminary results.

I spent the weekend resting as much as possible, as ordered by the doctor, and trying to convince myself that somehow everything would be okay.  That it was just a false alarm.  While my husband started the demolition stage of the spare bedroom renovation, what was to be the nursery.  I'd like to say the physical labor was a distraction for him, but I don't think anything could take our minds off of it.

By Monday morning I had done a pretty good job of convincing myself that the odds were in our favor and the test would come back negative.  Except for that dream.  The strange thing about it is, up until that point I was convinced that I was carrying a boy.  As if that little detail was proof that the dream was not a premonition. 

Just a few hours later, early Monday afternoon, I got the call from the same perinatologist -- the one we saw on Friday, the one from my dream.  I had gone to the mall on my lunch hour to distract myself from the dark cloud that had formed over me.  I had not been able to button my pants for weeks and it was time to finally break down and buy some maternity clothes.  I was leaving a department store, having just bought my first pairs of maternity pants when my cell phone rang.

The test was positive for Trisomy 18.

I listened to the doctor tell me that a genetic counselor would be calling me and calmly asked her how accurate these results were, even though I already knew the answer.  I hung up and left the store, called my husband.  I stopped back at work briefly to pick some things up and let them know that I was going home for the rest of the day.  The shock and numbness started to wear off on the drive home as the tears began to flow.

The rest of that day is a blur.  I remember crying on the couch, looking out the window and not understanding how it was getting dark.  The clock said 8 PM, but it must be broken.  I couldn't fathom how time and life were continuing on when my world had changed so completely.  Time stopped at 1 PM that day.  The earth stopped spinning on its axis.  Nothing would ever be the same again.

I wanted to return the maternity pants I had just bought.  I wanted to hide.  I didn't feel worthy of wearing them.  To walk around with my ever growing belly.  The badge of honor and pride of motherhood.  My baby was not going to survive.  I would outlive my first child.  My first daughter -- it was indeed a girl.  And there was nothing I could do about it.

I still can't walk through that section of the department store where I got the call, without thinking about that day and feeling the familiar pangs of panic start to build.  I wonder if that will ever go away. 

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