I remember being at work and getting a phone call that there was an abnormality in my blood test in the marker for neuro-tube defect. I remember googling and googling from home, convincing myself that everything would be okay. Worse-case scenario my baby would be in a wheelchair. I could deal with that. I made an appointment to get an amniocentesis. That way I could prepare for the baby in the best way, give him the safest delivery possible so I would not harm his spine, if that was the problem.
The day finally arrived. I went to the doctor and sat in the waiting room. When it was finally my turn, I laid on the exam table, pulled up my shirt and felt the cool gel on my belly. The tech doing the ultrasound immediately left the room. She returned with a group of doctors. I remember this happening when my daughter was diagnosed. I knew that it was not good.
The doctor told me that my baby had Anencephaly. That he would never live. That I should have a D&C and try again in a few months. I shook my head and started to cry. I could not believe this was happening to me again. A different birth defect but a similar scenario. I asked to know the sex of the baby and they told me he was a boy. I named him.
The days that followed I cried into my pillow every day, I remember reading bedtimes stories to my children as I sobbed. I wanted the earth to swallow me whole. I wanted to die, too. I went back and forth between wanting to have the baby taken out of me. Begging my husband to let me have a D&C. I knew my baby would die. I had no hope. I looked up pictures on the internet of baby’s that were anencephalic. They looked like frogs, like monsters. The image of my baby changed. I felt I was carrying a monster. Every time he kicked I resented it. Why are you still alive? Why are you forcing me to make a decision between death and death? How can a person be pregnant with someone that does not have a brain?
The panic subsided and I did tons of research on the internet. I read all types of birth stories about anencephalic babies. I read about people carrying to 40 weeks, their babies seizing, gasping for breath. This terrified me. I didn’t want his last hours to be filled with pain. I did research on people that had D&C’s, how their babies were cut up into pieces and removed from their womb. My baby had a beating heart, I did not want him dismembered. I would not even put a dog to sleep this way.
I finally decided to continue to carry until I was ready to have him. My belly hardly grew and always stayed pretty small. It was different than other pregnancies as if my body did not acknowledge my pregnancy at all. At 26 weeks I thought it was time. I called my doctor. We set up a meeting at the hospital. I was placed in a room, given an IV and the induction started. I periodically had the nurse check for his heartbeat. I wanted to make sure he was not in distress; the baby remained calm through the whole experience, his heart rate steady. After two difficult days of induction, he was born around 4 o’clock in the morning. I closed my eyes, afraid to see him; afraid he was a monster. My husband came to my bedside, his eyes filled with tears, and told me it was okay to look. He was beautiful. The doctor put a hat on him so I wouldn’t see his defect. His eyes were puffy and deformed but the rest of him was perfect. His body was warm in my arms. I stared at him and we cried as his body slowly cooled. The chaplain came in and baptized him. I was filled with peace, with relief, with joy that he had not suffered. That very same morning I came home. I went on to have two more children. I am at peace with my decision. My baby died with dignity. He did not struggle. It was the saddest most serene experience of my life.