I don’t think I ever truly understood the word “bittersweet” until now.
The last month has been the most bittersweet of my entire life. You see, a month ago, we went in for what should have been a routine, fun ultrasound. 20 weeks pregnant! Halfway there! We would get to see their little profiles, get all their measurements, meet with the doctor for a minute, and then go home to ponder who our little girls would grow up to be.
Instead, after waiting for the doctor for an hour, I was asked to move to the chair next to my husband, and we were told that one of our precious baby girls was very, very sick. She had more developmental abnormalities than I could remember from one doctor’s appointment to the next. The next week was a whirlwind of appointments: the OB, the maternal fetal medicine specialist (twice), and a specialist in Houston. All gave her the same outlook: if she survived the pregnancy, she wouldn’t be with us long in this world.
For those interested, here’s a quick rundown of the abnormalities they found:
- An encephalocele (a neural tube defect that causes basically a cyst to form on the head), perhaps with some brain matter already being pulled into it – later found out it was an open neural tube defect, with proteins that should have only been found inside her leaking into the amniotic sac
- A head circumference measuring about 3 weeks behind (started at 2 weeks behind, but by our last appointment with her, it hadn’t grown)
- A small brain with a cerebellum measuring at least 3 weeks behind
- A cleft lip and palate (best measurement for the cleft was about 9mm)
- Possible deformities in her hands
- No imaging ever found her bladder
On June 22, we lost our little Cate. Catie-bug, we always called her. Our sweet little girl who was always curled up and content at every imaging appointment, but who loved to give us little dance parties when we listened to her heartbeat at home. Just like that, she was gone.
I haven’t shared a close-up of her little face with the world. Not out of shame but out of fear of anyone thinking she was anything less than perfect, despite the medical diagnoses. But here is our lost little one:
How is all of this bittersweet? I’m glad you asked.
Our other little girl is perfectly, amazingly average. Every measurement is right on track. She’s perfect. In a little under four months, we’ll bring home our little girl and love her to pieces. That’s the sweet part.
But I’m bitterly angry about the loss of our second little girl. I’m angry that, after everything we’ve been through, she was stolen from us. I’m angry that Liv had a sister and forever-friend snatched away from her. I’m angry that all the visions we had for our future family of four are gone. I’m so angry with God, with the universe, with anyone and anything involved in this tragedy. I just want my baby girl back, and I’ll never get her back, and that takes me to a level of angry that I’ve never experienced before in my life.
I never thought I would be a bereaved parent. No one does, I suppose. And then lightning strikes, and suddenly you’re trying to make burial arrangements for a child you had just started to get to know.
And we had. We knew she was our little snuggler. She was quiet and content with a little wild streak in her – she seemed to relish kicking her sister in the head. She was shy. We never got a profile image of her, and she always turned away from us. She was going to be Daddy’s girl. We said goodbye to a little girl we hardly knew, but who we loved with every ounce of our beings.
This post is all over the place, but so are my daily thoughts. My feelings ricochet from happy we have our little Liv to angry to frustrated to sad to remorseful to jealous to… just everything. Minute to minute sometimes. I wonder if the day will ever come when I don’t feel a knife to my heart reading that someone is expecting twins, or seeing two little sisters together, or even hearing about someone going to their big 20-week ultrasound. Will my body ever stop going completely cold? Will I feel whole again ever?