We will never forget the day the doctor called and told us that something was wrong with our baby. "You have very little amniotic fluid and you need to see a specialist." he said. This was our first baby and we were young. Never did we imagine what we would eventually go through.
We met with a perinatologist the following week where an ultrasound detected that our baby's kidneys were multicystic and not developing. (At 12 weeks gestation the baby's kidneys take over and create the amniotic fluid. Without amniotic fluid from 15 to 20 weeks gestation the lungs will not develop. The baby needs to swallow the fluid to develop the lungs.) We were 16 weeks gestation at that point. He then told us the heartbreaking news that our baby would not survive. He will either die in utero, be stillborn or die at birth. The next thing the doctor said was, "You can terminate the pregnancy." We told him that was not an option for us and further in the conversation he mentioned terminating the pregnancy again. Again we told him no, that was not an option. We were sent home with the choice of continuing to see the perinatologist or our regular doctor. I told our regular doctor that I didn't want to see the specialist anymore because he kept encouraging us to abort. Our doctor supported us in our decision.
We were heartbroken after hearing the news that the baby we loved so much was terminally ill. We then contacted our parish priest about what to do about baptism. We didn't know how long our baby would be with us. The priest mentioned that if our baby died in the womb there was a Baptism of Desire placed upon his soul. That gave us some comfort.
We continued to see the doctor on a regular basis throughout my pregnancy. As my pregnancy progressed toward the third trimester I noticed a decrease in our baby's activity. It's as if I felt him slowing dying inside me. My measurements slowed down also. Then on August 8, 1996, I went into labor. I was 33 ½ weeks gestation. I gave birth to a 3 lb 11 ½ ounce, 17 inch long baby boy on August 9 th in the early morning hours. The laboring was very difficult for me because I knew that in giving birth it would bring about his death. He could not survive on his own.
My husband cut the cord, which he said was bittersweet, and then he Baptized him. We gave him the name Michael, trusting him to the care of St. Michael the Archangel. Michael lived for 36 minutes, all the while being held and loved by my husband and I. He was a medical miracle the doctor said because even though he had no lungs, his heart beat for 36 minutes. God gave us a little time with our precious baby before he went home to his eternal Father in heaven. What a beautiful gift that was!
After Michael died we spent the day with his little body. It was very healing to be able to hold him and love that frail little body. Michael also had a beautiful funeral.
Looking back on Michael's life, many years later, we still miss him. We still cry sometimes. We wonder what our lives would be like if he had survived. I remember when the doctor first told us he wouldn't survive and I thought to myself. Lord, I would take him malformed or mentally challenged if this meant our child could live. He is my flesh and blood and I just want the chance to care for him regardless. However, this wasn't God's will for us.
Even though Michael didn't live very long, we are at peace in our hearts with the decision we made about allowing Michael to live according to God's will and not by our own accord. Our lives have truly been blessed through the years and our faith strengthened, as a result of this little saint who was given to us for such a short time. We came to realize that none of our children are really ours. They are given to us from above to love and care for and eventually they will all return to the Father. We are so thankful that we chose life for Michael.
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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.