Gabriel's Story

Diagnosis: Trisomy 21

By Gabriel's Mother

It was April. My husband and I decided we would start trying for our second child. I couldn't wait, but was so worried that maybe we would have difficulty conceiving. I prayed that we would be blessed with another child, but tried not to get myself too worked up if things didn't happen right away.

Well, I couldn't believe that we conceived on our first try. I knew we conceived. I just felt it. (I also felt some sharp pains in my lower abdomen from the day after conception for a few weeks afterward). I couldn't wait to find out for certain.

I bought 3 pregnancy tests and tried very early. I saw an ever so faint line, but wasn't sure. My husband said I should wait for the right time to test, but I couldn't. So I tried again and again; each time with the line getting darker. I was elated. I told everyone as soon as we knew for sure. I was so worried about miscarrying, that with every little pain I prayed that I not lose this baby.

After the first trimester, I felt more confident that nothing wrong was going to happen with this baby. I sent away for announcement books, planned the nursery down to the last pillow and comforter, and just overall felt such an overwhelming joy that I felt like the luckiest woman in the world.

My son was so excited. Each night, he would kiss my belly and say night-night to the baby. He looked at baby books with me and was so interested in learning about the baby in mommy's belly. We even watched "A Baby Story" together.

I planned on taking an amnio, but as the date approached, I became scared that it might cause me to miscarry. I told my mother about my concerns and she suggested that I not take it. I almost didn't. It was scheduled for Monday at 9:00, and over the weekend, I was seriously thinking about cancelling. Had it been on a Tuesday, I probably would have cancelled, but I knew they were planning on me being there first thing on Monday morning.

During the ultrasound, I found out that I was having a boy. I was so excited. Two boys. I joked that I was going to be the only woman in a house full of boys.

I pictured him just like my other son. I pictured how they would play and laugh and grow up together. Two brothers. Best friends. Since my husband didn't come with me because he was babysitting, I bought blue baby balloons to announce to my husband that we were having a boy. I thought "life doesn't get much better than this."

Throughout the waiting, I really didn't think they would find anything wrong. I worried myself sick my last pregnancy and he was beautiful and healthy. I didn't want to do that to myself again this pregnancy. I just felt in my heart that he was fine. I was just seeking reassurance of that.

Then I got the phone call. I had called that morning and the nurse told me that the results wouldn't be in for another few days. I hadn't even been really nervous when I called. Then, at 4:00 on a Thursday, the doctor called. She sounded so strange...sad, worried and nervous.

I knew. My heart dropped. My throat tightened. But I thought it might be something we could fix. Surgery maybe? Bed rest? My mind raced, but I held onto hope. Please, oh please God, let him be okay. Then she said it. "I'm so sorry, but your baby has Down syndrome."

I went numb. I couldn't speak. The doctor kept calling out my name. I yelled, "I have to call my husband! I have to talk to my husband!" Shaking, sobbing uncontrollably, I called my husband and yelled "the baby has Downs. He has Downs. Oh, what are we going to do?"

Those hours and days after that phone call were so painful, so confusing and so scary. I asked all the questions I needed to ask. My husband and I talked and tried to decide what was best. I felt like it was all some mistake. That this can't really be happening. But it was happening.

I was told that I could either deliver the baby or have a D&E. I didn't think I could emotionally make it through a delivery. I didn't care about the physical pain. That I could endure. I just didn't think I'd be able to deliver him. I felt that I didn't want my husband to have to go through that. I thought it would be "easier" if I had a D&E. I was afraid that I would just completely and utterly fall apart if I had to go through a labor and delivery.

I must have appeared much worse than I thought I was portraying myself, because everyone at the doctor's office and hospital were so supportive and caring. I honestly don't know how I made it through those hours.

To my regret, I tried to disassociate myself from the baby. I wouldn't wear my maternity clothes; I couldn't look at myself in the mirror or shower; I tried to ignore the baby's movments. I felt like I was going to lose my mind, and that was the only way that I could keep it together.

I so wanted to talk to a priest. To explain. To ask for forgiveness. To have him bless the baby. I didn't. I was so scared of what he would say. I was so afraid that he would look down at me and disapprove and tell me I what I was doing was wrong. I couldn't face that at that time. I just couldn't bear it.

We let the hospital take the baby and I wish to God that we didn't. I am haunted by that. I am so sorry that I didn't deliver my sweet baby. I wish I held him and rocked him and told him how very much I loved him. I feel I let him down. It's been over three months and I can't get over that.

I wrote him a letter to apologizing for what I consider my weaknesses. I felt so torn. I was just trying so hard to make it through that time. I wanted to have him buried or cremated, but I thought we'd be rejected by the church.

Now, I read stories of people who made funeral arrangements and they have had their baby cremated or buried, and I feel so terrible. I didn't know about these things then. I wish I had known. I wish I'd had more time to figure this all out. Oh, how I wish I could turn back time. I even called the hospital to see if maybe they still had my baby. They didn't. She suggested that I make a memory box or plant a tree.

I'm going to Rachel's Vineyard so I can memorialize my baby. I feel that I will never get over this; that I'll be thinking about this on my dying day. I wish I could have a more positive outlook about things and maybe one day I will. I feel that was the best four our family in light of the circumstances. I feel my baby is in Heaven and is in a happier place.

It is my hope that if someone is going through this that they will think about all the other decisions so there won't be the depth of regret that I feel. God bless you all.


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