Do you ever just get in a funk and have no idea why? The past week or two I’ve been there. Sometimes I can just chalk it up to PMS, but when “MS” comes and goes, and it’s still there, I start to wonder, “What’s up with me?”
Yesterday I had a revelation. Today is August 10, which was the single worst day of my life. Worse than when my mom died in 1987, when I got divorced last year and when Rugrat’s dad and I got divorced in 2009. In fact, after August 10, 2005, I became a different person. Ten years ago tomorrow marks the anniversary of when I lost my 3rd pregnancy. The 1st and 2nd losses were hard, but nothing could ever prepare me for the emotions I would deal with when I lost Rachel mid-term.
I went to my OB for THE ultrasound. You know the one. The one that tells you what color to paint the nursery. I was absolutely ecstatic to learn I was having a girl. My OB said that she couldn’t get accurate measurements of the organs and wanted me to see a high-risk specialist with better ultrasound equipment and scheduled me to go in the next day.
Reflecting back on that day, I certainly should have picked up on the fact that something was wrong, but I was still too high on the excitement of finding out I had a mini-me growing inside of me. We were so excited that I invited my parents to come with us to see their granddaughter themselves.
The nurse brought us back for the ultrasound and said the doctor had been called away, but she could go ahead and take the measurements and confirm that it was a girl. As soon as the image of my baby showed up on the monitor, I had to ask if the baby truly was a girl. She confirmed that, but there was something about the look on her face. Of course, I asked immediately what was wrong.
Technically, as a nurse she couldn’t give me a diagnosis and had to schedule for us to come back the next day to see the doctor. However, she saw the fear in my eyes and told us what she saw and what it “could” mean. Unfortunately, she was right. Our baby had anencephaly. She had no brain core. I didn’t believe it. After all, she had a strong heartbeat and was taking normal breaths that we saw for ourselves during the ultrasounds. We learned that she actually did have a brain stem, which is what told her heart to beat and lungs to breathe.
That night, we got on the internet and started to research. Our baby had zero chance of survival. If I were able to carry her to term, she MIGHT take a few breaths before dying. Additionally, we learned that she had an issue with her heart and would require multiple surgeries. Because of my other health issues and lack of viability for our daughter, the doctor told us we needed to terminate the pregnancy.
I have always hated abortion. I feel that for the physical health of the mother or in the rare case of rape or incest it should be allowed, but never for birth control. I was faced with the most difficult decision of my life. I never dreamed that I would have to end a pregnancy for my own health.
Finally, after much discussion and lots of prayer, we decided to let the specialist induce labor. I was in the hospital for almost a week. He wanted to give my body every opportunity to deliver her without having to do a D&C. He told us we would be better able to grieve and move on if able to hold her and say goodbye.
Unfortunately, after three days of labor and my running a dangerously high fever, he told me we no longer had that option. Just before midnight on August 10, 2005, Rachel was born. She never took a breath, and we never got to hold her. We did, however, get her footprints. I haven’t looked at them in a very long time. They are in a box with a few other mementos that I will keep forever.
After burying her next to my mom, I could not return to work for a few weeks. I tried to go back once, but could not stand everyone looking at me feeling sorry. I had a break down and ran to the restroom sobbing. When I came out, my supervisor and his boss told me to go home and take as much time as I needed before coming back.
I decided the best way to get over my loss was to get right back on the horse. I got pregnant again the next chance I could and was near the end of my first trimester with Rugrat before Rachel’s due date. He knows about his big sister. He’s visited her grave. He’s sad, too, that he’s never met her, but I remind him as I constantly remind myself, that if she had been healthy and I’d carried her to term, I would never have conceived him, and he wouldn’t be here today.
I probably should have waited longer before trying to conceive after Rachel died. I realize now that I sank into a deep depression and the post-partum I had after Rugrat’s birth was magnified because I never fully grieved Rachel. I became very hard to live with and made some poor decisions that I know contributed to the problems that led to Rachel and Rugrat’s dad and I to get a divorce. You know what they say about hindsight.
Rugrat is my little miracle. Maybe I spoil him too much. Maybe I let him get away with more than I should. But he is my miracle, and I can’t imagine life without him. So Mom, quit spoiling Rachel so much up there! I’m spoiling your grandson enough for both of them!