True Meaning of Faith

Diagnosis: Anencephaly

By Momma0305

When I got pregnant with my first child, Payton, my world was suddenly changed for the better. I felt I had meaning in this world. I had a reason to wake up in the morning and a reason to sleep at night. She was my everything.

I was hit by a lot of pain. Thinking it was my back, I ignored it. I thought it was from the epidural when I had Payton. I didn't have insurance to go to the hospital. Finally when I realized that the only thing I wanted for Mother's Day was to hold my daughter and not be in pain, I went to the hospital and found out I had gallstones. A big move, and many months later, I went in for surgery.

I was so scared about the surgery even though I knew it wasn't a big deal. The nurse walked in and was getting ready to get my I.V. set up. She left for a moment. “Okay” I thought, “I can do this. This is no problem at all.” I felt ready to get it over with, and the nurse walked back in.

She smiled to me and said, "“You know your pregnant, right?"”

I kind of screamed “No!” So many emotions hit. The same emotions I had when I found out I was pregnant with Payton. Mat and I went out for breakfast that morning, since it wasn’'t possible to have the surgery because of the pregnancy. On the trip home I said, “Why do I get the feeling that this will be the baby that always surprises us?”

The pregnancy was so easy compared to Payton's. I had hardly any morning sickness, and craved such yummy food. It was almost like I wasn't pregnant at all. The only thing was that I was tired a lot.

We had an ultrasound done at eight weeks, and that'’s when I feel in love with my baby. The baby was small and perfect, looked just like a CareBear. I got so excited, remembering all of the great things about Payton, and watching her grow. Not only was I lucky enough to have one healthy child, I had two.

At 18 weeks I had a glucose tolerance test and a triple screen. I wasn't worried about the triple screen at all, and focused on the possibility of gestational diabetes. I'd had it with Payton and knew I would have it this time too. I was emotional over that, so the other test didn't even phase me.

I got a call confirming what I knew, that I had the diabetes. She said that the baby didn't have Down syndrome, and that was the end of the conversation. The next day she called back and said that she had forgotten to tell me that the spina bifida test had come back positive. That was a Thursday, and the ultrasound was scheduled for the following Wednesday.

The day I turned 19 weeks, I went in for the ultrasound. A woman preformed it, and didn't say much about the baby as she was going along. She told me that the baby was a girl and I got so excited, even though I was still worried. I remember looking at the screen and asking her what she was measuring. She said it was the baby's head. I thought it looked weird, but I just figured it was the angle I was at. She left and told me to stay where I was. I started getting scared and thought for sure the baby had spina bifida. She came back and told me she needed me to move to another machine, a better one. I got so happy! When I was 16 weeks pregnant with Payton, she was so small, that they couldn't see her heart well. It of course was nothing to worry about, so I somehow completely convinced myself that the baby was OK, she was just too small to see her spine correctly. They just wanted to make sure.

We got in there and the doctor came in and started the ultrasound. I of course was in better spirits, and my sister and I were even making jokes about how funny she looked. I said I wasn't a mother who was afraid of saying her child looked funny in an ultrasound. I saw her spine, and I mentioned that it looked perfect. The doctor agreed. I said “then there is nothing wrong with my baby?” And he didn't answer me. That’s when I knew I was going to lose my child.

She had anencephaly, which is when the skull doesn't form correctly. It is a neural tube defect that happens between 20-28 days of pregnancy. I hadn't known I was pregnant then and was smoking. Smoking makes it hard for the baby to get folic acid, which is one cause of anencephaly. I know I didn't know, yet I still feel guilty. I knew at once that termination was my only option. Not only would it have been painful for her to be born, I couldn't mentally handle going full term: Eating right, and doing my blood sugar, and everything that a mother does, for the sake of her child. I knew I would be plagued with “well it's not going to matter anyway.”

We had some things to work out with Medicaid and it took a few weeks for us to decide what we wanted to do, and how we could have it done. I didn't want a D&C. Everyone has to make the right choice for them. At first the thought of injecting her heart to make it stop beating sounded like I was putting her down like an animal. But that ended up being the road we had to take. It was the only way I'd hold my daughter and kiss her sweet face.

Labor was painful, with some minor problems that were more painful than serious. Since I was only 21 weeks, she was very easy to deliver. She was born on February 25, 2005 at 7:45 a.m. I got to hold her for more than 24 hours. The one thing that haunts me is I wanted to be the one to undress her. I wanted something I did to remain with her until she was cremated. When I turned her over to undo the back of the gown, I saw a small hole on her right shoulder blade...where the needle had gone in. The mental image is more then I can handle at times. She's home now, inside a beautiful music box. When we're ready, we want to place her in a teddy bear: the one thing that reminds me the most of childhood.

We named her Faith, because it would take faith that she was always with us. Her middle name is Anne, after my great grandmother, who had passed a few months before I found out I was pregnant. She was a very wanted child, even though she was such a surprise. I wish I could hold her again, but I know now she's safe and can be and do whatever she wants. It doesn't make my pain easier, but it brings a smile to my face.

Faith has taught me many things, and I'm still learning. The one I've had the hardest time accepting is this: A mother will stop at nothing, including her own hurt, both mentally and physically, to protect her child. I believe that’s the true meaning of my Faith.


Books on Loss and Grief

Our Heartbreaking Choices: Forty-Six Women Share Their Stories of Interrupting a Much-Wanted Pregnancy

The Dive :: A Memoir

A Time to Decide a Time to Heal: For Parents Making Difficult Decisions About Babies They Love

Precious Lives Painful Choices: A Prenatal Decision-Making Guide

Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother

Empty Cradle, Broken Heart, Revised Edition: Surviving the Death of Your Baby

Empty Arms: Coping With Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Death

A Silent Sorrow: Pregnancy Loss

Unspeakable Losses: Healing From Miscarriage, Abortion, And Other Pregnancy Loss

Surviving Pregnancy Loss: A Complete Sourcebook for Women and Their Families

Difficult Decisions: For Families Whose Unborn Baby Has a Serious Problem

Books for Fathers, Family, Children and Friends

Couple Communication After a Baby Dies: Differing Perspectives

For Better or Worse: For Couples Whose Child Has Died

How to Say it When You Don't Know What to Say: The Right Words For Difficult Times

A Guide For Fathers: When A Baby Dies

When Your Friend's Child Dies: A Guide to Being a Thoughtful and Caring Friend

When Pregnancy Fails: Families Coping with Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death

What You Can Say When You Don't Know What to Say: Reaching Out to Those Who Hurt

Books about Trying Again and Pregnancy after Loss

Journeys: Stories of Pregnancy After Loss

Trying Again: A Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss

Pregnancy After a Loss: A Guide to Pregnancy After a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death