The Day I Lost My Baby Boy
It has been three days now since I lost my baby boy and I am still in shock and disbelief. Not even two weeks ago, my baby boy was diagnosed with "Patau Syndrome" following chorionic villus sampling, an invasive prenatal test. I remember that heavy feeling in my stomach when the doctor's assistant told me on the phone that my baby has three copies of chromosome 13. When I received that call, I had no idea what that means but I knew that it wasn't good news because I was sent to the geneticist straight away. Tears were streaming down my face after that call. It was impossible to stop them. I was standing on a sidewalk, turning my head away from the people walking past me and I wept for a long time. I sent text messages to my sister, my aunt and my mom because I wasn't able to make a call. Then, I made my way back home. I don't know how I made it back, but the 15 minute walk felt like ages.
Fortunately, my sister was able to take me to the gynecologist where I picked up the test results. On the piece of paper showing the test results, I saw that the fetus had an X and a Y chromose and knew I was carrying a boy. I was extremely glad that my sister drove me to the geneticist because she somehow kept me from crying the whole time.
The geneticist informed me in detail about my baby's disease. He told me that my child had practically no chance of surviving its first weeks, let alone the nine months of pregnancy. Babys with Patau syndrome suffer from severe intellectual disability and physical malformations in many body parts.
The geneticist had a very detailed conversation with me and made me feel slightly better regarding the diagnosis. He said it can happen at any age although the risk increases with age and that it doesn't have anything to do with me or my genes. It is basically a "genetic coincidence" and my child's specific type of trisomy 13 was not inherited. The risk of having another baby with trisomy 13 lies at 1.2 % in my case versus 0.2 % in other women. The geneticist told me that the likelihood of this happening again is extremely low.
I was advised of the options I had including an abortion. An abortion in my case would prevent any unnecessary suffering for the baby as a result of its medical condition that results in death during birth or even before in most cases. I knew that an abortion was the only option I had and the best option for the baby as well.
Following the appointment with the geneticist, I was sent the University Hospital Bonn, where the gynecologists did some more ultrasounds. My baby was too small, it had six toes, a cleft lip and water in many parts of the body. A heart condition was diagnosed which would soon lead to the baby's death.
I remembered watching my baby boy move his arms and legs up and down on the screen of the ultrasound. He didn't look sick in my eyes. He looked quite comfortable.
Following the long ultrasound, I took a seat and listened to the senior obstetrician talk to me about the procedure of the abortion. I would have to give birth to the baby as I had already reached 13 weeks. The baby would die following the intake of Mifeprex which leads to the softening and dilatation of the cervix and consequently the intake of Misoprostol which induces labor. The senior physician explained to me that I would have to wait 36 hours after taking Mifeprex before I would be able to take Misoprostol. After giving birth, the remains of the placenta would be removed under general anaesthesia in a procedure called curettage. I remember feeling extremely scared and nauseous.
In the conversations I had with a multiple number of doctors, I was trying so hard not to cry, trying to be brave and look mature. I was pretty sure the doctors were sick of crying, miserable patients sitting in front of them. Most of the time, I had myself under control by trying to understand what the doctor's were telling me and trying to disconnect myself from the situation. But sometimes, it was impossible not to cry. My feelings of fear, disbelief, shock and sadness were overwhelming. I sometimes felt like it wasn't me sitting in that chair listening to all the problems my baby had. I felt like I was watching myself from above. It didn't feel real. It felt absurd.
After talking to the senior obstetrician, I had to talk to the anesthesiologist, more doctors and finally a psychologist who asked me a number of questions regarding my pregnancy. All the specialists I talked to said I didn't need to have a bad conscience about my decision considering the condition of my baby. They said it was the best I could do for him. I knew it was but I had always been against abortion. I never imagined I would ever be in this kind of situation where abortion would be the best solution. I had always told myself that if I got pregnant and it wouldn't be the perfect timing in my life, I would still have the baby, no matter what. I had always been convinced that abortion should be the very last option, when all other options are destined to fail or permanently harm the baby and the mother. And I didn't think that I would ever have to opt for that last option.
I was hospitalized two days later, together with my sister, who stayed with me in the same room. I wouldn't have managed it without her.
Following the intake of Mifeprex at 10am in the morning, I was gripped with fear for two days. The midwives said that there is a possibility that the baby would come out while I was sitting on the toilet. I was horrified. I didn't want that to happen.
The contractions were extremely painful. I didn't have severe stomach pain but the pain in my lower back was unbearable. I was given pain killers which quickly ceased the pain and my fear as well. I actually felt very peaceful lying there. They must have given me strong narcotics.
In spite of my fear, I felt very well taken care of. The doctors and midwives were very caring, supportive and encouraging. I was worried I would be surrounded by a huge group of doctors and midwives when the time would come but it was actually just one single midwife and she made me feel very comfortable. At no time did I feel awkward. I gave birth sitting up in my bed. I will remember that feeling for the rest of my life. He was so tiny that he came out after one small push.
The midwive asked me if I was sure I didn't want to see the baby and I said yes. I knew I wouldn't be able to get that image out of my head, ever. If I ever decide to change my mind, I can see a picture of my son, which will be saved by the hospital. I received a little card in which it said, my son was stillborn on June 6th, 2015 at 10:10am. He was 10 cm and weighed 22 grams. I didn't name him. He will be my tiny angel for the rest of my life.