Alison believes that the CVS caused my baby’s death. I had a D & E the next day with my mother waiting outside the surgical unit. It would take my husband 24 hours from the time he heard the horrible news to reach home. When I awoke in the recovery room, Alison was leaning over me. “Are you going to try again now that you know you can have a healthy baby?” she asked. That was the last thing on my mind. “I can’t go through this anymore,” I told her.
CVS does have a slightly higher risk than amniocentesis. But it is also given about 3 weeks earlier than a typical 16-week gestation amniocentesis, which is within the timeframe when most miscarriages typically take place. So it is hard for doctors to pinpoint whether these miscarriages are from CVS, or are miscarriages that would have taken place had no CVS been administered.
I was emotionally wiped out and angry after this most painful of losses to date. I had mentally prepared myself for receiving news of another Down’s pregnancy, but I had never expected to lose a baby this way, so cruelly. I didn’t want to see my friends, and I took a leave of absence from work. I also begged Kevin to get a vasectomy. I wanted to put the whole baby thing behind me. I wanted to erase any chance of conception from my life so I could get on with it. My husband was afraid of getting a vasectomy, so procrastinated. We got on with life and concentrated on the children we had. I returned to work within 6 weeks.
Kevin never got snipped and you can guess the outcome. I learned I was pregnant on my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, June 15, 2008. As soon as I saw the test result state PREGNANT, I thought, it’s a boy. It is uncanny, but it was as if the stick actually said BOY instead of PREGNANT.
Kevin was on a business trip in, of all places, Thailand, and I decided that I wouldn’t tell him. Chances are I would miscarry at 6 weeks again, anyway. I didn’t call my mother or my sister, but I needed to tell someone, so I walked down the street and told my friend Maureen, who is an emergency room pediatrician. She hugged and kissed me and I told her she was getting too excited. She said, “I didn’t kiss you last time and maybe that’s why things didn’t work out.”
It was a Sunday, and I called Alison. I didn’t want to call her from work the next day. I apologized for calling her at home and she told me she was glad that I did. We discussed whether I should see a high-risk OB and she said no. I told her that this time, I would not go through the excruciating Hcg tests. We decided that I didn’t need to see her until I reached 6 weeks, when I would have an ultrasound, if I made it that far.
The house was quiet with my husband in Thailand and my daughter at sleep-away camp. My son was not going to camp until later in the summer, but he was rarely at home. I had a lot of time to think, unfortunately. I was feeling anxious, of course, and it wasn’t helped by some flying squirrels who had made a home for themselves in my attic. Every evening they began to frolic at 10:30, making it hard for me to sleep. One morning after an especially boisterous, nocturnal party, Kevin called. I complained about my loud roommates and he said, “If that’s the worst thing you have to worry about…” Oh. Too good an entrance line to waste. “Well, it’s not,” I answered. “What do you mean?” he asked. All I said was, “Guess,” and he knew. Long silence. He told me not to tell our son, not to tell anybody, and I assured him I wouldn’t, indeed couldn’t. I felt embarrassed, like people would think, Oh God, not AGAIN.” To assure my husband that we were on the same page, I told him I hadn’t even told my mother. He knew it was a huge deal for me to withhold news like this from her.
My breasts became increasingly tender, and I began feeling queasy. Baby steps. I told my next-door neighbor, Doren, and my mother at 5 weeks. Later, Doren told me that for the first time, she knew that this was going to be IT. My mother reacted as if I was a knocked-up teenager. “Oh, Robin,” was all she said.
At six weeks, there was a detectable heartbeat. Every time I used the bathroom, I checked for blood. Every time. At 13 weeks, I had a high level ultrasound test to see if the back of the baby’s neck was normal. Called a neucal fold test, it looks for extra thickness in that part of the neck, which could mean a higher chance for Down Syndrome. My baby’s neck was fine, and there was a detectable nasal bone. The ultrasound technician told me that 50% of Down’s babies don’t have nasal bones. These were good signs, but I wasn’t out of the woods and I would have to wait almost 4 weeks before I would have results from the 16-week amniocentesis. I was feeling good, beginning to show, and desperately wanting to celebrate my pregnancy, but it was still way too soon.
My friend Lisa took me for my amniocentesis because Kevin was again in Thailand. The doctor was one of the best in Philadelphia. I was taking no chances. Lisa was with me during the ultrasound when we learned that I was carrying the boy I had predicted the day I learned I was pregnant. The doctor told me he had done so many of these procedures that he could just about tell from looking at a 16-week fetus if it was healthy or not, and he said my boy looked perfect. Also, I would have my results for Down’s in only 2 days, not the week I had thought I would have to endure. I felt at peace after the test. Inside, I just knew that everything would be all right this time.
My mother was at my house when I returned from the hospital. I was going to do a few days of bed rest to be on the safe side. I was a little crampy, but knew told that was normal. When the call came two days later with the joyous news that I was carrying a healthy baby, I wept with joy and relief. I had an OB appointment both 2 and 5 days after the amnio, and both times enjoyed listening to my son’s strong heartbeat. I told Alison, “I’m finished worrying about this pregnancy. I’m going to celebrate it.” She said, “I’ll stop worrying in 3 weeks.”
The rest of the pregnancy was uneventful. I enjoyed a wonderful delivery, the one I had dreamed of with every previous pregnancy. My parents had never seen the birth of a grandchild, and this was their last chance. And I wanted my children, who had been through so much loss in their young lives, to see the miracle of their brother’s birth. I got my wish. Kevin held my left leg and my daughter held my right one. My mother was at the foot of the bed next to Alison, and just behind a curtain were my father and son. Cameron Ross Black joined our family on March 2, 2009 at 3:52 p.m., weighing 6 lbs., 14 ounces., looking beautiful and wise, with big blue eyes and a perfectly round head capped with dark hair. He had ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes. His birth was jubilant and victorious. Later, after everyone had gone home and it was just Cameron, Kevin, and me, I looked at Kevin and said, “Can you believe that someone so old could produce something so beautiful?”
Please share your experiences below. We'd love to hear from you.