|Baby Gabriel with Mom
It was our second baby, due 18 months after our daughter was born. Everything seemed fine during the pregnancy, baby was moving and kicking, we'd had a few ultrasounds and nothing seemed out of the oridinary - until our 20 week anatomy scan. That was the day they noticed something wasn't right, our baby had no amniotic fluid. I knew something was terribly wrong and I was terrified. The rest of the day was spent getting phone calls from doctors and making phone calls to specialists.
The following day we went to a perinatologist. After doing a 2nd level ultrasound she diagnosed our baby with Bilateral Renal Agenesis (Potters Syndrome). Our baby didn't have any kidneys, she explained that this condition was "not compatible with life" because without kidneys they baby wasn't producing amniotic fluid. The lungs wouldn't be able to develope without the fluid so at birth, breathing was impossible. She also made sure we knew that it was possible the baby wouldn't survive in utero for very long so waiting would have some risk. This was the worst day of our journey, hearing the news that our baby wouldn't be coming home with us was emotionally traumatizing, I was an emotional mess.
They were gently suggesting we terminate the pregnancy since it wasn't viable. Thinking about terminating while feeling my baby kick and move inside my belly was overwhelming. How could I end the life of a child I want so badly? After careful thought we chose to carry the baby as long as we could. We wanted to cherish the baby's life with us, enjoy the few precious moments we had and hope and pray for something to change.
For 3 months we continued to see various specialists, different clinics and many ultrasounds. Each doctor confirming the diagnosis and comforting us with knowledge that our baby was still growing and surviving, none of them could tell us our baby's gender. Each doctor shared the same insights about our diagnosis, each time making sure we knew our baby may not make it to full term. But I knew in my heart, if the baby made it to full-term and we got a few minutes of life with him, it would be worth all this pain and heartache.
The baby was frank breech and remained in that position until delivery. At one appointment the baby being breech became an important topic. The baby wouldn't be able to flip on its own and doing an inversion wasn't going to work. Our options were laid out for us - we either do a c-section or deliver breech. A breech delivery can be dangerous, but so can a c-section. A breech delivery would have to be done sooner because its safer if the baby is smaller.
We finalized our very strict birth plan, notified the hospital and our doula. We began induction 2 weeks later on December 7th at exactly 36 weeks gestation. After 18 hours of pitocin induced labor our baby was born 12/8/11 at 2:36am - A BOY! He was 4lbs 8oz and was 18 inches long. Gabriel Ray was surrounded by the love of our family for 35 precious minutes, he grew his wings at 3:11am. He was absolutely beautiful, a perfect little boy.
That labor and delivery was tough. I was trying to focus on each contraction is it came, but I was always thinking "this is the end" "I'm not ready to say good-bye". Its tough to go through labor and delivery when you know you aren't going to have a baby to bring home, that soon you'll have to say good-bye to a life that was growing inside of you.
After our family left, we asked the nurses to take Gabriel to the nursery so we could sleep for awhile. After about 3 hours we woke and requested he come back into our room. We cuddled him, held him, snuggled him, and cried over him. We had a spiritual advisor visit, our pastor visited, but for the most part we were alone. All we really wanted was to be released so we could grieve in the comfort of our own home. The outreach nurse came in right before we left and helped us get footprints, handprints, playdough prints, hair lockets, and anything else we could take from the hospital in remembrance of him.
We held him one last time, gave him one last kiss, and said our good-byes. Leaving him there, in the room, was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. That night, as I walked outside, I noticed one single glistening star in the sky - it was the only one for 10 minutes and was shining SO bright. I knew it was a message from our Gabriel, showing us a litltle glimpse of heaven.
I think about him every moment of every day. He is in my every thought, my every movement. I will always wonder what he would be like, what he would look like, what all his favorites would be... No parent should ever have to bury their child, whether its a baby, a child, a teenager or an adult. It goes against the grain of life. Having to say good-bye so soon really makes you realize how valuable each moment is, you no longer take a single moment for granted and live each day to its fullest. Its amazing how Gabriel has changed our lives forever, we'll never be the same people we were before we had him... Our lives will never be the same.
www.mnmom4life.blogspot.com - Gabriel Ray - our Potters Syndrome baby, our journey.
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-The support, information and encouragement provided by the PPFL parents is not meant to take the place of medical advice by a medical professional. Any specific questions about care should be directed to a health care professional familiar with the situation.