We are so sorry to tell you this, but your baby is very sick and isn’t compatible with life”. These words are so clear to me, they run in my head every single day. They proceeded to tell me everything that was wrong with my baby. The heart, the lungs and bowels weren’t formed properly. The baby had an increased amount of fluid in the brain, body and lungs. They told me that my NIPT testing came back with a 9/10 high risk for down syndrome and that these findings are relevant with a severe case of down syndrome.
On January 6th, I found out Matt and I will be parents. I remember feeling so shocked yet so excited and nervous. I had this whole idea in my head of how to surprise Matt, but at that moment, I just needed to tell him right away. We were both so excited and surprised with how fast it took for us to get pregnant. I had my first doctor’s appointment the following week to set up all my appointments, my ultrasounds and talk about my health.
My first ultrasound was done unfortunately in emergency because I had severe pain. I was almost 7 or 8 weeks pregnant at this time and didn’t share the news with my family. The little bean had a beating heart and implanted perfectly in my uterus. We then decided to tell our families. We had gotten labels made for wine bottles that said “drink this for me, because you’re grandparents to be! Baby C arriving September 2021”. We were both so excited to share the news with all our friends as well.
Throughout my pregnancy, I was very sick with nausea lasting most of the day. I was very tired and couldn’t do much. I was excited to reach the second trimester.
Twelve weeks flew by and I was at my ultrasound appointment! It was March 4th at 11:30. I will always remember this date. I was very excited to see the baby on the screen. I was upset because Matt couldn’t come to any of the appointments with me. My appointment took me a lot longer than I had imagined. They made me drink more water, walk around, drink more, pee, walk around more. In total, I was there for about 4 hours. The anxiety settled in when they couldn’t find the right measurements and when the tech’s faces were so flat. I just knew something wasn’t right - I felt it. I was nervous. But, I had never had an ultrasound before so I thought this was all normal.
On March 8th, 4 days following the ultrasound, I received a call from my doctor at work. She notified me that they found an abnormal measurement of the baby and that I would need further testing. I broke down and cried. I just knew… My doctor sent me for blood work (NIPT; non invasive prenatal testing). These results will notify me if I'm at high risk of genetic abnormalities including down syndrome. I was then notified that I would be going to Toronto for an appointment the following week. This terrified me. I thought to myself, this must be serious if i am going to Toronto. It was a hard week of waiting and wondering. I’m surprisingly proud of how positive I remained. My mother in law took me to Ottawa for a girls trip to get my mind off things and to have a good weekend. Although I was very sick, this was a great trip. We had gone into so many baby stores and we were so excited to shop for the baby. We found some cute Rae Dunn outfits and the highchair that I want! All 3 of us were positive that everything would be alright.
On March 16th, Matt and I took the week off, and drove up to Toronto for my appointment at Mount Sinai. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to come inside. I had been put into room 6, and I instantly smiled because 6 is my favourite number; so hopefully good news will come from this. My first ultrasound was with a fetal cardiologist. This took about two hours. I remember texting Matt and my mom that I was beyond nervous, something was wrong. The heartbeat sounded abnormal, like whooshing noises. I’m not an ultrasound tech but I am able to identify anatomy and I could sort of see that the heart wasn’t formed properly but I thought to myself “stay calm, everything is ok, the baby’s heart is beating”. Following this doctor, a fetal medicine doctor came in and took an ultrasound of the entire baby’s anatomy. This was quickly done while I was answering questions to a genetics doctor regarding mine and Matt’s family tree and health conditions.
It was then that my whole world came crashing down. About 8 doctors entered the room and sat beside me.
“Can you call Matt and put him on speakerphone?” the doctors asked.
“Matt and Taylor, we are so sorry to tell you this, but your baby is very sick and isn’t compatible with life”. These words are so clear to me, they run in my head every single day. They proceeded to tell me everything that was wrong with my baby. The heart, the lungs and bowels weren’t formed properly. The baby had an increased amount of fluid in the brain, body and lungs. They told me that my NIPT testing came back with a 9/10 high risk for down syndrome and that these findings are relevant with a severe case of down syndrome. During these findings, I just remember wanting to hang up the phone because I was so embarrassed. I was so humiliated and hurt and I didn't want the love of my life to know how hurt I was. I wanted him beside me, hugging me and making the pain go away. The doctors then told us we have 3 choices; end the pregnancy, get further testing (amniocentesis) or let the baby die naturally in my uterus. I remember just hearing the words “end the pregnancy” and no other choices. It was like, right there and then I had made my choice. I was so sickened with the news and hurt, that I didn't even want to think of any other choices. The doctors walked out of the room and handed me a printed picture of my baby’s ultrasound. I was then placed in a room with a circle table to discuss my choice with Matt. I am traumatised by this situation because I wish so badly he was able to have seen his heart beating and his little hands moving on that screen, and now I had to make a decision physically alone, without Matt in my arms or looking into our broken souls full of love.
The genetic doctor came into the room and talked with Matt and I, he said “you have a very healthy uterus for carrying this sick child”. He told us to take a few days to make a decision.
"I was pregnant, but my baby was going to die in a week."
I remember how I felt when I saw Matt in his truck waiting. I was completely broken but so happy to see Matt and we both broke down into tears and rushed out of downtown Toronto. Our families were devastated by this news.
We then took a week off to be together before the death of our baby. I was still sick with morning sickness at this point, taking my medications every morning, making me feel like a zombie out of walking dead. I don’t know how I survived that week. I guess, looking back I had adrenaline, the fight or flight feeling. I was fighting, but I cried a lot that week. I stayed home the entire week because at this point in my pregnancy (14 weeks) I was showing and everyone knew I was pregnant. I was pregnant, but my baby was going to die in a week. I was so sick, and wondering if this sick baby feels any pain also. I don’t remember who told me to enjoy my last few days of being pregnant, for having such a healthy uterus and loving this baby inside me before he’s gone. And so I did. I’m a palliative nurse, so I thought to myself, this is palliative care inside my uterus. The day before our termination, the sun was shining through my windows and I remember sitting in the sun, looking at how cute my belly was. I was just starting to get over my morning sickness, and have a cute little bump and firm perky boobs (haha). I took so many pictures and videos of my last day with my belly. And I am so thankful I did. We found out during this time that our baby was a boy. We named him Oliver. This broke our hearts because we both wanted a little boy so much, especially Matt.
"I’m a palliative nurse, so I thought to myself, this is palliative care inside my uterus."
On March 22nd, Matt and I were on our way to Toronto. We rented a hotel the night before to relax and go out for dinner together. My procedure was the morning of the 23rd. This was being done at the abortion clinic in downtown Toronto. I remember walking in, feeling so much guilt and judgement and fear and sadness. I was surrounded by a room full of women, about to say goodbye to their babies. The woman asked me a few questions, and proceeded to offer me Ativan if I was nervous. I wasn’t nervous. I was sad. I was broken. I was living in shock, adrenaline and grief. I had a whole week to prepare for this appointment. A week where I felt all the emotions and grief. To me, my baby was already gone. I was given medications for induction, to open up my cervix, Misoprostol and Oxytocin. The Misoprostol made my entire body shake and have the chills. The nurse said this was my body preparing for birth. They called my name, and I was then laying on the table waiting for the doctor to do the procedure. I took a big “gasp” and cried my eyes out. The nurses held my hand, and offered me support. The doctor walked in and said “are you ok”. No, I am not ok. I didn’t sign up for this, I didn't sign up to terminate a very well wanted pregnancy. I didn’t want this but I knew that this would take away the suffering of my baby, and us as parents. I was wide awake, the entire procedure. It was so painful, like severe cramping, contractions for about half an hour. I had asked to hold the baby, but they said it’s not a good idea. I’m imagining at 15 weeks, the baby is too small and not in great shape. I was ok with this.
"The doctor walked in and said “are you ok”. No, I am not ok! I didn’t sign up for this, I didn't sign up to terminate a very well wanted pregnancy."
I walked out of the procedure, into the recovery room where I laid down for about 45 mins and then went to see Matt. I remember the feeling of “ahh” lifted off my shoulder, as I was ready to start grieving. I was so happy to see Matt. It has been a heartbreaking journey without his presence in the appointments and the procedures, but I’m forever grateful he was there, outside waiting for me every single time. I have never felt so supported and loved by anyone in my life. I knew that I would be ok with him by my side.
We took a few days/weeks off to grieve and be together. With so much support and love, we got through it. Those days seem so blurry to me, like it was all an awful nightmare. I wish they were.
June 23rd 2021, 3 months after losing my baby.