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My womanhood was gone.

In 2010 my husband and I became unexpectedly pregnant. At the time I currently was not working and we already had 3 children to support. My husband knew from the moment we found out we were pregnant that we’d be okay, somehow… I was not so sure. As time went on my fear of having another child turned into joy, though I was exhausted and the worst heartburn ever, I was happy to be adding to our family. Things seemed to be progressing fine, the doctors were having trouble pining down exactly how far along I was, but this was nothing out of the ordinary as my cycles are very unpredictable. Around our 12-15 week mark (October 11, 2010) we went in for the results of my blood test for Down Syndrome and the accompanying ultrasound. My husband opted not to go into the exam room and stayed in the car due to a wicked migraine he was suffering from that day. When I arrived they told me they’d give me all my results at the end of the ultrasound. As I moved through the appointment I joyfully watched the monitor the ultrasound was on. I remember thinking two things 1) this is really taking a long time and 2) why won’t they show me my baby’s legs. Having successful pregnancies before, I thought nothing of it. Then when the ultrasound was over the technician told me the doctor would review everything and get back to me. A few minutes later the technician came back in and told me I needed to wait in another room, I still thought nothing of it. When the doctor came in she pulled a chair up and sat fairly close and broke the news. My pregnancy was not a viable one. My baby had multiple fetal anomalies, including no legs. Trying to hold it together, I asked “Do I have to think about ending the pregnancy?”, the doctor confirmed that it was a possibility and that she needed to speak with a few other specialists. My husband was texting me furiously and when I finally answered all I could say was “no everything is not okay”. When I got to the car, I broke down and told him everything. He sat there confused, not understanding because we have children and they are healthy.

Shortly after we got home we received a call from a geneticist that wanted to meet with us that afternoon. We rushed to our appointment and flooded her with questions about what we could to do make our baby healthy again. We were told there was nothing and that I should have miscarried a long time ago, but our baby still held on, heartbeat and all. So we were given a choice, end the pregnancy now and our baby would not suffer or go through with the pregnancy and risk an eventual miscarriage or stillbirth. After much thought we came to the decision to end the pregnancy, we could not bear the thought of our daughter suffering. The appointment was set for the end of the week and in the meantime I was placed on heavy mood suppressants and I barricaded myself in our room. Through the week I begged my husband to not let the doctors take our baby, but he reminded me that this is what was best. (All the while, I could tell he was struggling to keep it together for me and our children.) I agreed, but thought to myself, how is this best-case-scenario, we are losing our baby, there is nothing we can do about it, and worst of all it was our choice to do so (though I know now it really wasn't our choice). Then Friday October 15, 2010 came, I threw up most of the morning due to nerves and medication they had me on and I was cramping badly from the dilation procedure I had undergone the day before. The hospital offered to have a “spiritual adviser” in the room with us and was going to cremate our little ones remains to take home after they did some testing and got a gender for us.

When I woke from the procedure, I was crying and the adviser was by my side. She told me she held my baby and said a few prayers. I thanked her and asked for my husband. For a while my memory was blurry, but I do remember how many family members and friends we spoke to who this had happened to and kept it a secret. My husband and I could not understand how people could not want the world to know about their baby. I also remember the cruelty. We were told to “get over it”, “it was for the best”, “just have another”, “let it go”, and a total lack of support all around. We were alone. I could not look at myself the same. I was a mother and I could not protect my baby, I could not bring her safely into this world, I had failed her. My body had betrayed me. Was I still a woman? How could I be? I failed to do one of the most important and magical things a woman is supposed to do, give this world and my husband a beautiful life, a new life, our daughter’s life. My womanhood was gone. Though things are better now, it takes work and is a daily struggle. We miss her terribly and when October comes around our sadness bubbles even stronger. We keep strong for our other children and let them know they have a special angel watching over them. This story is for our lost little one Cara Nicole (10/15/2010). We love and miss you always. And you are not a secret!

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