On September 14th 2007, my husband and I found out that we were expecting our first baby. We were both incredibly happy as was our family.
My first trimester went like any other. I felt sick, moody but still remained happy through it all. My husband and I wanted a baby for years but decided to wait until I graduated from nursing school.
I finally completed my R.N. program in December of 2006. So we felt that the time was right. As I approached my second trimester my OB-GYN wanted to do more blood work. All of which had came back normal so far. She informed me that I was getting to the point in my pregnancy where she wanted to check my Alpha-Feto protein level (AFP). She explained that this was not a perfect test and that any number of things could cause a false positive. My husband and I decided to do the test regardless of its imperfection because it would tell us if there was a neural tube defect. Two weeks went by and I had heard nothing from my Dr’s office so I assumed everything was fine. I could not have been more wrong.
On Dec 16th 2007 the Dr’s office called to inform me that my AFP came back high but not to worry as this test is not a perfect test and that my gestational age may be wrong or I could be carrying twins. The nurse stated that I would need to have a Level 2 ultrasound done to rule out any neural tube defects. So on December 17th we went to have the ultrasound done not thinking there would be any problems. As soon as the stenographer placed the wand on my belly I stated my baby doesn’t look right! She immediately turned the monitor so we could no longer see. I asked her if there was anything wrong with my baby? She explained that she could not answer that and would have the Doctor to come in and talk with us.
We waited an hour and half to speak with a Dr. we had never met. She came in and began looking at the pictures and whispering to the stenographer. Being a nurse I knew this was an ominous sign. Finally I had enough and screamed is there something wrong with my baby!!!!! The Doctor said “yes there is it is a condition called anencephaly”. She went on to say this condition is not compatible with life and suggested that I terminate my pregnancy. We were completely mortified our life as we knew it was forever changed and the dream of having a baby was completely shattered. We were then told to leave and we were offered no counseling or the pictures they had taken of our baby.
The next day I went to My OB-GYN for a second opinion and to discuss my options if there were any. The diagnosis was the same and we found out that I was carrying a girl which is what we were praying for. She gave us the pictures from the ultrasound she had taken. She informed us that we could indeed terminate the pregnancy or we could carry her to term. Whatever the decision she was very supportive and was behind was 100%.
My husband and I discussed it for a few days and decided that we should give her the best chance possible. We carried our baby girl to term despite how hard it was emotionally. There were times in my pregnancy that I wanted it to all be over but I continued on. I did not realize then how much I would treasure the time I had with her. Feeling her move and grow inside me was absolutely the highlight of my pregnancy.
On April 30th 2008 I went in to the hospital to begin my induction. Little did I know this would take 4 grueling days!!!! I could not dilate because I had nothing hard pushing on my cervix because she lacked a skull. Finally on May 3rd 2008 — after much anticipation — Laila-grayce was born still. Her face was incredibly bruised because that was her presenting part this is what finally caused me to dilate. Despite all the bruising on her face she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Her body was perfect in every way. We choose not to see her head because we didn’t want to remember our little girl as anything but perfect. We wanted to donate her organs so that another baby could live but none of the transplant centers in our area would accept her because of her condition. My husband and I were in total disbelief because our OB-GYN told us her organs were in great shape and would be a candidate for organ donation.
Since we could not help out another baby we had a service for her and had her buried in our family plot. I would not change the fact that I carried her to term as a matter in fact it was the highlight of my life. I felt lucky that God choose me to carry one of his Angels.
We chose her name due to its meaning. Laila means the angel who guides spirits after birth. I could not think of a more fitting name for her. After having my little angel I view life very differently. I no longer take anything for granted and cherish each day I have.
On June 9th 2008 I lost my Mom who was my best friend. This absolutely crushed me. I felt like I had lost it all, my baby, my mom and my best friend. This has been a rough year for us but I hope that things will begin to look up.
My husband and I are going to begin trying to have another baby in August. My OB put me on folic acid 3mg and I have been taking it consistently everyday for the past 2 months. She informed us that the chance of this happening again is 1% with the folic acid therapy. Although, my chances of having another baby with a neural tube defect is significantly higher than that of someone who has not had a baby with a neural tube defect. I feel very optimistic that our next little one will be healthy.
I assume if you are reading this that you or someone you know is going through a similar situation. My heart goes out to you.