The hand the odds dealt

About 7 months ago I never would have thought I would be where I am now. When I found out I was pregnant in April I began dreaming about the path that my husband and I were headed down. Was our baby going to have my husband’s nose? Would we agree in the way that we wanted to raise our child? Would our future house have a big yard that would be fun for our little one to run around in? Despite all of paths I dreamed I would be on, I never imagined that I was headed down one where we would experience just as much heartache as we would joy and happiness.

Even before I was pregnant I made the decision the use a midwife. A good friend of mine knew that we were planning to start a family soon and recommended that I watch the documentary “The Business of Being Born”. The documentary discusses how mainstream healthcare tends to push inductions which lead to C-sections and can potentially be very harmful to both mom and baby. While I wasn’t interested in having a home birth (I’ve seen what can go wrong in “normal” deliveries and I wanted the piece of mind that a NICU team was close by), the philosophy behind midwives is quite touching and centered around the well-being of both mom and baby. I highly recommend watching the documentary if you are planning on starting a family – at the very least it is educational. I also just learned that a follow-up to it, “More Business of Being Born”,  will be released in November.

Our midwife was fantastic. We never felt rushed at our appointments, we always got right in to see her and she always remembered what we talked about in our past appointments even if it was about the tacos we had the night before. One thing to note about Midwives is that they take a very hands off approach to pregnancy. She monitored the baby’s heartbeat and my blood pressure but we didn’t have our first ultrasound until I was 21 weeks along. Up until that point we knew 3 things…1. I was halfway through the pregnancy 2. Hearing the babies heartbeat was the single most amazing thing we have ever experienced and 3. We could not wait until the ultrasound to see little Huckleberry swimming around.

My husband and I discussed whether or not we wanted to find out if we were having a boy or a girl and we both agreed that we wanted it to be a surprise. We felt that moment was one of life’s only true surprises and we wanted to experience that moment. We went to our ultrasound ready to see our baby for the first time and were in awe as we saw Huckleberry shying away from the picture as the ultrasound tech scanned my belly. She finished up,  told us to sit tight and said she would be right back. 20 minutes later when a Doctor we had never met before came in the room and said “We’ve got a few problems we need to discuss” our lives changed forever.

The next few days were a complete blur. Within the span of 5 days we went from learning that we were having the baby girl that I was secretly hoping for, hearing she was diagnosed with Trisomy 18  which affects about 1 in every 3500 babies and then losing her after some very long and brutal hours in the hospital. I cannot even begin to describe to range of emotions my husband and I went through during that time. Shock, despair, devastation, understanding, hope, gratitude and more love than I thought I was even capable of. Even now I still go through the same emotions as if time has barely moved since we lost her in August.

It’s been over 2 months since I gave birth to our stillborn daughter and the emotional wound it left is still as fresh as it was the minute I heard the Doctor tell us they found a problem on the ultrasound. The image of our baby girl with her father’s nose is still fresh in my mind and I can’t help but wonder if she would have been stubborn like me or patient like her father. It’s funny how something so little as some one offering their condolences can have such a profound effect on my state of mind. Even something so simple as the wording they choose can completely anger me even though I know it is not their fault. There is never a “right” thing to say in these instances and I try to remind myself of that every time I put a wall up in an attempt to guard myself from more hurt.

We recently attended a memorial that the hospital hosted for anyone that has lost a child and we were truly touched to have our families by our sides to support us. Miscarriages, stillborn babies, newborns, infants and children were all honored and it was quite possibly the hardest thing we have ever had to do. It couldn’t have been easy for my sister who is pregnant to listen to devastating stories of everyone’s losses but bless her heart, she was right there by my side. We are glad that we went to honor the memory of being pregnant and carrying our baby girl for the first 22 weeks of her life but I truly hope that we will never have to go through anything like that again.

We had a few names in mind if we were having a baby girl but once we learned that she would never come home to see the beautiful nursery we were making for her we knew she would be Deidre Felicity Grant. Having become pregnant while in Ireland, I knew that I wanted to name her Deidre which is Celtic for Angel of Sorrow.  My husband chose Felicity as Saint Felicitas is the Patron Saint of expectant mothers, young mothers, women wanting to become pregnant, and children who die prematurely.

We didn’t take any pictures of her, but we have our memories of her that we will hold on to forever. The hospital was amazing and sent us home with a memory box home that was filled with her footprints, a seashell they used to bless her with and cards written thoughtfully by the staff we were lucky enough to meet. They also sent me a beautiful necklace with her footprint, initials and birthday on it so I can always have a piece of her with me.

My husband and I are untraditional parents…but we are parents none the less. Any woman is a mother from the second she becomes pregnant. Every decision you make relates to your baby in some way as you begin to evolve into being a mother and that is a beautiful thing. This experience has taught me so much about myself and the love I never knew I was capable of feeling. One day soon I know that we will be blessed with a baby that we will be able to watch grow into a wonderful son or daughter…and we cannot wait for that moment to happen.

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7 thoughts on “The hand the odds dealt

  1. Anna, I read this with a lump in my throat and an ache in my chest. Thank you for sharing your story…and with such grace and sincerity. You two are so very strong, loving, beautiful, wonderful people. I love you and am so happy to have you in my life!

  2. This was extremely difficult watching my daughter and son-in-law absorb and accept with dignity and grace one of the most difficult things possible. As a mom, all I wanted to do was make it better and as Grandma there was the ache of what should have been.
    Your dad and I love you both. We look to Grandma Rozie to keep an eye on the tiny Irish Angel.

  3. I love the movie “Business of being born”. 😉 More importantly I pray to God that once Rob and I are expecting that we will have the strength and courage you and Sean have had the past few months. You inspire me to keep looking forward and keep my head up even when small things don’t go my way!

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