We sit together, holding hands, trying to absorb what the doctor and nurse are trying to explain to us. Together, yet feeling so alone. Our unborn baby had been syndactylous, which according to the dictionary “is a condition where two or more digits are fused together.” They explained further that he also had severely bowed legs and that his thumbs were located closer to his wrists than they should have been.
I’m numb: I hear voices, see their lips moving, watch the diagrams being drawn on paper, but not much is getting through to me.
A few months ago we felt so alive, everything around us was full of promise. Daryle and I were pregnant!!! So thrilled – this after several years of efforts to convince Daryle to try for another little one. We’d already been blessed with a son and I’d been wanting another child to complete our family. After many discussions Daryle and I agreed to try for #2.
I was so excited about the baby that I began collecting all the necessary bits early. Boxes that had been packed away with Daniel’s baby things were brought out and sorted through and I hunted down a bottle warmer, swing, some maternity clothes and a baby bath. An October baby – how wonderful! Everything would go smoothly this time – I was determined. Determined to be strong, determined to focus on my family, determined to do my job well, determined that the doctors would have to prove that something was wrong with the baby before I’d believe it.
Bringing Daniel into the world had been a stressful experience. In addition to my own combination of typical pregnancy trials and tribulations, Daniel had been diagnosed with a ‘lemon-shaped skull’. After further testing it was determined that he was just fine – nothing a hat wouldn’t cure. He’s now 5 years old and handsome, happy, healthy and intelligent. Hence my determination this time around to wait for proof that something was wrong before getting upset.
This mindset allowed me to remain a little emotionally distant, or so I thought. I tried to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. Every night I prayed. As usual I would say the Lord’s Prayer, then I asked for God to bless us with a healthy child, take the baby to heaven early if there was something terribly amiss and to give me the strength to deal with what He saw fit to give me.
Meanwhile, I found Joan, my wonderful doctor that had seen me through the trying times when carrying and delivering Daniel. Daryle, Daniel and I met with her and her team of nurses and midwives a few times, had the usual tests done and things seemed to be progressing well.
So far I had felt nauseous, endured painful tenderness, craved all things peanut-butter, soared then sunk with mood swings and my belly had begun to grow just a little bit. Joy. My happiness wasn’t dampened by a bit of spotting. I called Joan and she said to wait and see what happened, might be nothing to worry about. The spotting continued though, accompanied by a little cramping. Nothing wrong, just my old bod getting used to the little one nestling in, nothing at all to worry about.
The next day, Thursday, Dr. Joan thought it would be wise to come to the office to check that things were okay. Off I went, certain that things were just fine. One of the midwives checked for a heartbeat – its absence was troubling. A viability ultrasound was scheduled for the next morning. Viability? Anger set in, how dare they tell me whether or not my baby was viable, of course it was.
My determination remained strong right through the viability ultrasound. The chatty technician had become increasingly silent as the ultrasound progressed, then I was left alone for quite some time while she discussed the results with others. I was told to go home and wait for a phone call from my doctor. My determination was shattered – I sobbed almost the entire way home. As I approached the Queensborough bridge my cellphone rang. Hi Joan, please call me back at my home number in ten minutes. I can’t talk about this while driving. Please.
Ten minutes is a long time to wait. Making it through the front door at about the five minute mark, I collapsed on the rug. On my knees in despair, then staggering about the house, sobbing. I couldn’t contain my despair. I managed to speak a few words when Joan called back, but the tears weren’t far below the surface. She was compassionate, caring and empathetic to what I was going through. Daryle and I lay on our bed and held each other when he came home. Fortunately, Daniel was staying in Gibson’s with my parents so we didn’t have to worry about how to break the news to him. Not yet. We shared our grief and spent a lot of time alone together talking and hugging, leaning on each other.
While miscarriages don’t happen according to schedules, hospitals run on them. We had to wait until Monday for the D&C. Everyone at BC Women & Children’s Hospital were all very professional, polite and compassionate. They must see a lot of couples like us come through the doors. The doctor that performed the D&C was able to save the remains for analysis. I was hoping to find some answers to my questions of what had gone wrong. Maybe this outcome could be prevented next time.
A few weeks later another phone call. I braced myself to hear the results. Tests had revealed that our little boy had genetic defects that had prevented him from developing normally. Yes, we would like to attend genetic counselling.
Why I decided to attend the genetic counselling, I’ll never know. God had taken my baby just as I had prayed for and He had given me the strength to deal with it. I really don’t need to hear about recessive genes and the possible reasons for the genes becoming damaged in the first place.
So here we are, sitting together, numb to the core. Together, together. The word “together” echoes in my thoughts. Together. Something to be thankful for. We still have each other. We will move on – together.