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Saturday
Apr062013

Eliott's Story

This is from my daughter Meghann: 

We are sad to share that we have lost our baby boy. He was born sleeping Monday, March 18 and weighed 1.7 ounces and was 5.25 inches long. We named him Eliott Jacob and feel blessed for the short time we had him.

What was supposed to be a fun ultrasound to find out the gender turned out to be quite stressful as the baby was not cooperating. We left the appointment knowing we were probably having a boy, but would need to come back in a week to confirm. The reality was, our baby had lots of problems. After talking with our midwife, seeing a maternal fetal medicine specialist for a level 2 ultrasound and talking with a genetic counselor, we learned that our baby likely had a chromosomal abnormality of trisomy 13 or trisomy 18. The physical signs of this were an omphalocele with the stomach and intestines growing outside the body and exencephaly with the brain growing outside the body because no skull developed. We could clearly see this on the ultrasound and almost didn't need someone to tell us that the brain abnormality was "not compatible with life."

We had no genetic testing done with this pregnancy or Gabriella's as we are Christians and knew in our hearts that termination was never an option for us. When we got the first phone call with bad news, we decided that night that we could handle whatever our baby had. We could definitely love a child with Down's Syndrome or one with physical abnormalities. We knew that no matter what, if our baby lived, he would be loved and well cared for.

The harsh reality was that our baby would not live. He had a 0% chance of being alive outside of my body. The specialist said my young, healthy body was keeping him alive when he normally would have been an early miscarriage. With his brain abnormality, there was no chance of him making it through labor and the birth canal alive. We were told that he may live a few more weeks or maybe even to 35 weeks. With my previous c-section and the need to induce labor to get him out regardless of whether we decided to end the pregnancy early or wait until he passed naturally, we chose sooner  rather than later because the risk to me increased with each passing week as my uterus grew. I was already 16 weeks by ultrasound calculations and 17 weeks by my last period. And if I made it to the third trimester, an induction wouldn't even be possible because of my c-section. We also wanted to minimize any pain for our precious angel and knew that prolonging his life would only bring more pain. What an impossible choice that no family should ever be faced with.

My induction started Monday morning with my first dose of Cytotec being inserted around 10 a.m. By noon I had an epidural because the contractions were already strong. My water broke around 3 p.m. and Eliott Jacob was born at 9:27 p.m. into my mom's arms. Our room was soon filled with his loving family who wanted to meet him and say goodbye.

In retrospect, I knew something was a bit off the whole pregnancy. I had an odd sense of hesitation when it came to sharing the news, but with Gabriella I wanted to shout it from the rooftops at 5 weeks. Our dating ultrasound pushed our due date back a week but I knew when we got pregnant and got a positive test before it would have been possible based on the new date. I also wasn't showing at all. Nothing more than a tiny bit of bloat. I could still zip and button my size 6 skinny jeans. The bad news was devastating, but almost not a surprise. I guess a mother's intuition is right.

We decided not to do an amnio or any other testing while Eliott was still alive as the results wouldn't have changed the fact that his brain abnormality was fatal and that we would still try for more children in the future. We did send my amniotic fluid and placenta to be tested and will likely get results in about a week that will tell us if there was a chromosomal problem.

We know our family is not complete, and we will try again eventually- maybe when Gabriella decides to wean as I'd rather not be nursing and pregnant again. This whole experience has been surreal. It is something I never would have imagined as a possibility in my life. But I have faith that we are coming out from this storm stronger than we entered and know that we will be just fine. The love and support from my amazing husband, our care providers, family, friends and total strangers swells my heart with joy.

Meghann

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