Looking Back - Mallory's Life
By Mommy Amy Fordham
Two years. Not a long time, in the scheme of time. However, in our family’s world, it feels like 50 years, sometimes 100. You see, two years ago today is when we found out there was a good chance that our unborn child would not live.
We were in for our 19-week ultrasound. After years of infertility, we were so excited, as was our 6 ½ year old Megan. She wanted a sister, and to be honest, I want another girl. Byron wanted a boy, of course, but all we really wanted was a healthy baby. God had another plan.
We had one of the last appointments of the day. I was very well acquainted with the ultrasound room at my doctor’s office - nothing romantic in the way we got pregnant! The ultrasound tech looked and looked. Of course, the usual, ”I think it is a girl (YAY!) but I am not 100% sure.” Then silence. More quiet, and more measuring, and quiet. Then, ”I will go get the doctor. Be right back”. That is never good. The doctor came in. More quiet. Argh.
I was so not feeling the way I was supposed to. I was supposed to be laughing and joking, and HAPPY it was a girl! I was nervous, scared and freaking out inside. My mom was there. It was Friday, Sept.7, 2007. I will never forget that day, and I hate it now always. The doctor mentioned that the baby’s legs and arms were not quite up to the 19 - week mark, about 1.5 weeks off. I did not think too much of it. Ultrasounds are not 100% right. She wanted me to see a perinatologist.
We saw Dr. Gibbs and a wonderful genetic counselor named Susan at St. Luke’s. We heard the usual ”termination is an option”. I think they have to tell everyone that. Being Catholic, there was no way that would ever be an option for us. We told them that, and blessedly, it was never brought up again. They were respectful and helpful. We will always remember and appreciate that. He looked and looked too. She was measuring about 2 weeks behind in the arms and legs, and had problems measuring the head and chest. He could not diagnose what was wrong by the ultrasound alone, so asked if we wanted an amnio. I was terrified. I had heard bad things about them, but I am Type A, and I could not take the unknowing, so we agreed.
We had to wait almost a month to get the results back (they were thinking Trisomy 13-18), because they had to ”regrow” the cells a few times, due to the lack of extra fluid. We went back on October 15 and saw Dr Gray this time. He was awesome too. I could not be a doctor and have to talk to patients about things like this. He was caring, yet professional. It made it a little bit easier.
Mallory Grace (the name we chose) was still fighting! She had not gotten any smaller or bigger, and he was optimistic that she had stayed the same. He thought that might be a good sign. The amnio was inconclusive. It was not any Trisomy, and the types of dwarfism they test for all came back negative too. I would love any type of child. A disability meant nothing to us.
We left that day in a little better mood. I still was not feeling her move, but since she was on the smaller side, that was normal, the doctor said. We made an appointment for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and went on our way, planning for the holidays. I was hoping that all of our prayers were paying off. We enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving with my family, and I went shopping the day after, as usual.
We went for our appointment as scheduled. Dr. Gray started scanning and then turned away. Oh no, not good. He knew I wanted an honest answer. No sugarcoating. He had tears in his eyes. I started to freak out. Byron started crying. Dr. Gray said” She is in congestive heart failure. There is water on her brain, and her kidneys are not working. It is only a matter of time now.”
After pleading with him that he had made a mistake, I knew in my heart he was right. He hugged me for a while, and tried to comfort me. I composed myself, and asked what we would do next. He said we just had to wait it out. Great. We were on “deathwatch “ now. I would go to my OB’s office for “heartbeat checks”.
Wednesday, December 5th, was our next weekly appointment. She used the Doppler and could not find the heartbeat, so we had an ultrasound. Mallory was gone. I knew it in my heart before we even went there. I knew she passed on Monday, but could not admit it. Call it mother’s intuition or whatever. I had been helping at Megan’s school Monday at lunchtime. I was talking to Byron on the phone at about 12:15 PM. I felt sick, and had to go outside. I almost threw up, and then got really cold, and I started shaking. I know that is when she passed.
I went to the hospital on Thursday, December 6, 2007 at 8 in the morning. I was lucky. They had just finished a new wing in the hospital. I was the only one on the wing. I did not have to hear or see happy people with their newborns. I was quietly glad for that. I was blessed to have with me a dear friend who had lost 3 babies before me. She was with me the whole time. It helped so much for me to have someone there who knew what I was going through. My mom and Byron were also there. The nurses were awesome. They understood me, and let me yell, and be mad and laugh if I needed to. The mental pain was SO much worse than the physical. I don’t have epidurals due to a huge fear of LONG needles (silly, I know) so I was on a morphine drip, but I think my adrenaline was overpowering it, because I felt EVERY pain.
Mallory was tiny and oddly beautiful. She had a very large head, due to the water on the brain. She was born at 7:54 PM on Thursday December 6, 2007. She was 13 3/4 inches long and weighed 1 pound 13 ounces. Her head measured 12 inches. She was perfect to me. We held her for a long time. My brother was there but could not hold her. He was crying too. This perfect angel touched so many.
The next day, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Photography took pictures of our family of four. I left the hospital later that day. We held a graveside service a week later. I almost had a nervous breakdown. No parent should have to bury his or her child. It is not natural. We had to. It was a beautiful service. All of my family, Byron’s mom and dad, and my church friends were there. It was very cold but sunny. There was snow on the ground. My step dad made the tiny white coffin.
We said goodbye that day, but she lives in my mind and heart every day. I will never forget her. We never could find out what she had. I guess I was the one person in a million that this happens to. We went on the have a healthy baby girl November 28, 2008 named Noelle Grace Robyn. She was perfect too.
I still, 2 years later, have angry outbursts at God. I need to remember that he also suffered the loss of a child. He knows how I am feeling, and I think He would be okay with my periodic tantrums. I know she is an angel for him in heaven, and she watches out for all of us. She is always around me, and I will love her forever. I like to think her life made me a better person; able to help those I know who might have to go through this. It will soon be 2 years, and it is still fresh in my mind. I know with God, I will be fine. Mallory, may God keep you until we meet again, because I know we will. We all love you, angel in Heaven, and miss you always.