Here I am, a month after hearing the news that our baby had passed away. There is no way to describe what has transpired, except to say it has been an unpredictable rollercoaster filled with ups, downs, and moments that I do not care to ever repeat again. This is without a doubt the hardest most draining experience of my life. In addition to the physical experience that is still occurring inside my body, there’s the loss of our child, the loss of the joy we had experienced, the loss of all we had hoped for this child, and the loss of all we had dreamed for us as a family. We always knew that there was a risk that we’d lose the baby; but with Christmas coming right around our six week mark, we decided that would be the time we’d share the news with our immediate family. This is the story of the most joyous Christmas I have ever had; thank you for allowing me to share this beautiful memory with you. Love, Catherine
After learning we were pregnant, there was nothing in the world that could compare with the joy we felt! Not only had my leave of absence been successful, but we’d be able to tell our families that we were expecting on Christmas, what could possibly be better than that?
We wanted everything to be so special for our families. If they could only feel 10% of the joy we felt then it would surely be the most spectacular gift we could ever give them. This would be the first grandchild for my in-laws, and my mom. My dad has other grandchildren, but he’s a sucker for kids, so it’d be pretty special for him as well. We decided that we’d surprise everyone and tell them on Christmas by presenting them with special gifts.
I spent almost two weeks pouring and painting plaster ornaments in the shape of snowflakes. I painted them pink and blue and added some glitter for a great “pop” of sparkle. On the back I wrote, “Miracles happen at Christmas, and 8 months after. Awaiting baby Sterling, August 2014”. I also put together a paper magnet with a poetic pregnancy announcement that read:
Good things to come as we await
Baby Sterling’s arrival date
Two little hands and two little feet, one sweet baby we are waiting to meet
With hearts full of love and heads full of dreams,
We patiently await August 2014.
Our families were beyond thrilled when we shared the news. To say that jaws hit the floor would be an understatement. There were tears of joy, screams of surprise, and so many hugs. We knew how special this would be, and made sure to arrive long before the other guests. We made sure they understood how early in the pregnancy this was and despite wanting to share their joy with everyone on Christmas, they agreed to keep our secret. As excited as we all were, we knew that there existed the possibility of losing the baby, and that if it happened it was something we would not want to discuss repeatedly with the extended family.
Everyone wanted to know when they could share the news, with all that we had been through we wouldn’t be waiting until the 3 month mark. We did ask that they wait until January 6th, the day of our first ultrasound; when we expected to hear our baby’s heartbeat and see our very first baby picture.
It was our best Christmas ever! We had given our families a gift like they had never received before! I had one of the ornaments on our tree and a magnet on our fridge, and was filled with hope and expectation each time I laid eyes on them. Just watching the HCG levels climb week by week, watching my body change, and feel the ever growing pressure in my belly was truly amazing. We waited with anticipation and excitement to share our news with the world!
We dreamed of how we’d tell our extended family and how excited they’d be for us. We dreamed of next Christmas, when we’d have a 3 month old baby. There was no limit to what we dreamed for the future of our baby and our family. Of course, we prayed daily for our baby’s health. Since I was on leave of absence at the time, I prayed hourly for our child. Every time I felt pressure, or got unusually tired, I’d pray that these were good signs that our baby was growing and developing properly.
On January 6th, we made the long drive up to Dr C’s office. My husband, Frank, is known for his work ethic: for him, taking time off work is no small deed. Despite his commitment to his job, there was no way he’d miss the ultrasound. Together, we checked in to the radiology department at the hospital and were so excited to see the first picture of our baby, hear the heartbeat, and make that first guess as to whether our baby would be a boy or a girl. We didn’t want to get our hopes up, but we couldn’t help it!
When it was finally our turn to have the ultrasound, the technician led us into room where the procedure would take place. I undressed from the waist down and got ready for the procedure. Having had transvaginal ultrasounds before, I was familiar with the routine.
The probe went in. The technician took measurements of the uterus, ovaries, and everything. When we asked if we could see pictures, the technician told us that she “couldn’t say anything.” When we asked about the heartbeat, her response was the same.
We were worried about an ectopic, or some other complication. We remembered that Dr. C, my NaProTechnology doctor, requested that she print out her notes so that he could interpret the results of the ultrasound at our appointment which followed the ultrasound.
While we waited to meet with Dr. C, we poured over those notes trying to find some meaning in them which we could understand. Neither of us have any medical background, but we were able to decipher that it was not an ectopic pregnancy.
We waited patiently to meet with Dr. C. Thankfully, he read the technician’s notes and contacted her at the hospital before he met with us. When he sat with us he explained that the baby was smaller than expected. Instead of being the size that a baby is expected to be at 8 weeks, it was the size that a healthy baby was expected to be at 6 weeks, 6 days. Everything else was fine. By his understanding, all that had happened was that we had miss-dated the time of conception and so our due date would be a little later. The baby was in the right spot and everything else looked normal. We made an appointment for another ultrasound two weeks after that, when the baby would be developed enough to hear a heartbeat and we would get our first baby picture!
We were thankful that the baby was okay. Although we were disappointed that we didn’t get to hear the heartbeat, we didn’t get bad news. As far as anyone knew the baby was just conceived later than expected. My family is known for a propensity towards tardiness, so on the ride home we joked that this was an indication that our baby was taking after my side of the family.
Our parents were on pins and needles over the news when we shared it with them at Christmas. They had barely been able to hold their tongues over Christmas and New Year’s. That night we made calls and notified them that they’d have to wait another two weeks before sharing the news. They were surprised to hear this, but like us they took it as a sign that things were developing normally. They said they’d continue to keep us and our baby in their prayers and that they wanted to be informed the moment we knew what the heartbeat was!