My husband and I had been trying to have a baby for two years. We finally got the help of a reproductive endocrinologist. Surprisingly, on our first monitored cycle and a few weeks after I started teaching second grade I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t embrace this pregnancy at first. I had been pregnant twice already, and both ended almost as soon as they began. However, this time, the weeks passed and I continued to get good news including doubling betas, a heartbeat at 5 weeks 5 days, and weekly ultrasounds where everything was deemed to be “perfect.” Finally around Christmas, at about 16 weeks I allowed myself to get excited, buy maternity clothes, and start planning a baby shower. This was going to be our Rainbow Baby!
On January 14th everything changed. We arrived at the anatomy scan nervous. I had recently learned that this wasn’t a “gender” scan like I thought, but that it would be checking for the development of vital organs. I tried to shake off the nerves and let it turn into excitement. The tech began the ultrasound and was quiet for a very long time. Finally my husband asked if everything was okay. She told us she would be right back. I remember saying, “Well that isn’t good” while a huge knot developed in my stomach. She returned with a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist. He explained to us in laymen’s terms that a heart usually is divided into four parts, our baby didn’t have that, our baby only had one giant chamber. He indicated that several surgeries would be required to fix it. Then went on to explain that this type of defect is often seen with Down syndrome babies. My heart plummeted even further. The length of our baby’s arms, legs, and nose further pointed to Down syndrome. In addition, the renal system did not look like it developed appropriately either. That night I opted to have an amniocentesis done. As we were leaving they asked if we wanted to know the gender. We said yes. We were having a baby boy! As I drove home I kept trying to think of a best case scenario. Sadly there wasn’t one. Even if they were mistaken about the Down syndrome, our baby would be very sick. And even if somehow the ultrasound wasn’t accurate our little boy still most likely had Down syndrome.
My husband and I were numb for the rest of the night. We didn’t talk much, just digested this turn of events. We stayed home from work the next day and did research so we could discuss our options of continuing the pregnancy or terminating. We decided if our baby had Down syndrome in conjunction with the heart problems we would terminate the pregnancy. Our Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist was wonderful. He made sure we got the FISH results from our amnio before the MLK Jr. weekend. Our baby had Down syndrome. Honestly, I could make a list of reasons to justify why we chose to terminate, but it is an incredibly personal choice and I don’t feel like I should need to defend or explain our decision. We were told due to being 20 weeks at this point, we would need to travel to Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital about 1.5 hours from us and that it would be a three day process. It took a week or so to schedule everything and arrange for a hotel. In that time I began to feel our baby kick.
On January 29, 2014, we said goodbye to our baby boy. Physically and emotionally, it was more difficult than I ever imagined. The doctor had warned me that I would have many mood swings due to my change in hormones and that because of how far along I was that my milk would come in. There is no better way to describe myself other than a zombie for the first four weeks. I made a memorial shadow box and filled it with ultrasound pictures, belly pictures and his footprints. I ordered memorial jewelry. I packed up the maternity clothes that I didn’t want to buy in the first place and the few baby gifts we had received. I even tried to take the baby’s things to the Rescue Mission, but didn’t even make it to the garage before I realized I couldn’t do it. We also decided to name our little boy, Jake.
Seven months out from my termination, I still have good and bad days. I can honestly say that I don’t feel guilt for our decision, but I still miss our son very much. I have a lot of triggers that upset me, including places, songs, people, and clothes that take me back to either that pregnancy or the months following. Each day we put one step in front of another working towards someday having a Rainbow baby. Due to suffering another miscarriage this past June, we are going to attempt IVF with genetic testing to increase our odds of a healthy baby. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about our son and it comforts me now that I have an angel looking out for us.