GROWING OUR FAMILY

In the beginning of 2018, my husband Jez and I were trying to conceive a child and grow our family. I was not getting pregnant, and after an abnormal cycle, I went to see my doctor. I had tests and an ultrasound done, which showed that I had a dermoid cyst on my left ovary. My doctor told me the cyst was likely why I was unable to get pregnant, and I had surgery to remove the cyst in April of 2018. My doctor told me to give it three months, and he knew I would be pregnant.

When I was not pregnant by July, I was disappointed, thinking maybe I just couldn’t get pregnant. In August, it finally happened. I took my first pregnant test on September 2nd, and then I took another one, just to be sure. They were both positive! I called Jez and told him the news that we were going to be parents!

I couldn’t wait to tell everyone, and it was so hard to keep the news a secret for those crucial first weeks. I scheduled an appointment with a midwife that my husband knew, and I fell in love with the idea of a water birth. At nine weeks pregnant, I went in for an ultrasound to confirm my due date, and we got a good luck of our baby, who looked like a little gummy bear.


SHARING THE HAPPY NEWS WITH FAMILY

On our one-year anniversary trip, we decided to finally tell the world our exciting news. I couldn’t wait until our anatomy scan to find out the gender, so I found a place that did the gender blood test and ultrasound combination. We wanted to have a gender reveal, so my sister Hannah was the only person who knew what we were having. She surprised Jez and I by having a cake made with either pink or blue inside. We invited our family to share the experience with us as we cut into the cake. The inside was pink. We were having a girl! We named her Emersyn Leigh.

At 20 weeks pregnant, I went in for an ultrasound by myself, and the technician offered to make me a DVD, so that Jez could see it later. Emersyn was moving around so much, and I could see her long legs already and her little hands that kept going up by her face. She even sucked her thumb! I grew more and more in love with her. I took the DVD home to Jez, and we watched it, smiling ear-to-ear, thinking, “that’s our baby girl! We can’t wait to meet her!” Unfortunately, that ultrasound was not an anatomy scan, so I scheduled another ultrasound for 24 weeks to make sure everything was okay.


LEARNING THE DIAGNOSIS

At 11 am on January 18, 2019, I was on the table as our doctor poured the ultrasound jelly onto my belly and started scanning my left side, where Emersyn’s feet were. She had both of her feet and all of her toes, and I saw her belly and the umbilical cord where it attached to the placenta. I saw all four chambers of her heart, and she had both hands and all of her fingers. I saw her lips and her chin, and she did not have a cleft lip or palate.

When our doctor got to her head, he paused, and told me, “there is something big. Let me gather more data before I tell you anything.” Finally, he said, “I’m a blunt person, so I’m going to just be honest with you.” I nodded my head and said, “okay, be honest with me.” He said, “your baby doesn’t have a brain. She has anencephaly.”

Tears rolled down my face, and I asked him if she was sure. He was. My midwife was with me at my appointment, thank God, and she asked me if I wanted her to call Jez. I said yes, and I handed her my phone. It was so hard to tell him the news when he showed up. It was so hard to see him cry. We held each other for what seemed like an eternity. Then, we knew it was time to go home with the worst news any parents could receive about their baby.

After learning the diagnosis, we planned a trip to Pensacola, Florida to make memories while she was alive and well. We stopped at a nearby hospital, because I wasn’t feeling her move. We ended up having to turn around and head home shortly after arriving at the hospital. I was diagnosed with polyhydramnios, due to the fact that she wasn’t swallowing amniotic fluid. We were told that we could either have the fluid drained or I could go into labor. We chose to do a draining and keep her inside as long as I had the control to. We knew that our chances of meeting her alive were greater the longer I could keep her inside of me.


MEETING OUR DAUGHTER

My water broke on Tuesday, March 12th at 32 weeks pregnant, and I was admitted to the hospital seven hours later. I was in labor for 47 hours. Emersyn Leigh was born on March 14, 2019 at 4:40am. She weighed 3 pounds, and she was 15.5 inches long. We were so happy to meet her, and it was a bittersweet day. I heard her heart tones the entire time, up until about thirty minutes prior to her being born. She was stillborn.

As I held her, I admired all of her, soaking in the feel of her soft skin, her warm touch, her tiny fingers and toes, and the ways she resembled me and her daddy. She had dark hair, and I couldn’t believe she had any. I wasn’t sure if she would since she had an underdeveloped head. She was imperfectly perfect to us. 

We had twelve wonderful hours with her before we had to give her back to one of the nurses to be taken to the funeral home. I am so thankful that I had my Emmy, because giving birth to her made her real and valid. She was ours, and she is still ours. We miss her so much, and we can’t wait to see her again one glorious day.


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Every story is different, but collectively they remind us that we are not alone. In this spirit, we welcome submissions about your experience carrying to term.

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