I remember the joy we felt at the realization that I was pregnant again. It had been just a few months since we had lost our 7 th child at 4 months into the pregnancy. Now God was blessing us again with another gift of life. The time of pregnancy was busy, as my father was very ill and he and my mom needed a lot of help from us. Maybe it was this and the busy-ness of a large family that kept me from noticing that this baby moved less. Deep down maybe I knew that things felt different. I’d refused the screening tests because their outcome didn’t matter. This baby was a gift and our child to love.
It wasn’t until into my ninth month that the midwives expressed concern with the size of the baby and the amount of amniotic fluid. The ultra sound results indicated something was wrong. A level 2 ultra sound was done and the Dr. suggested amniocentesis to give us more information and help us better prepare for the birth. Looking back, I don’t think we would have opted for the amnio, but we were told this would confirm the diagnosis, which it did. The doctor who did the procedure was kind and told us that had we seen one of his partners earlier in the pregnancy, we’d have been encouraged to abort. He said he didn’t believe in abortion, answered our questions and told us our baby had Trisomy 18, a chromosome abnormality. We were told there was little chance that this baby would survive and so we planned for a birth and a death. We kept hoping for a miracle but as my due date approached the baby seemed less active.
The next visit to the Dr. established that God had already taken her home. Soon after I was induced and delivered. As we held this priceless blessing, I thought my heart would break. Each of our 6 children held her and we said our good-byes. We knew then that our family was forever changed. We could say that we were honored to have her even just a little while but for a long time it felt like God had betrayed us, giving us this sadness. Now I look back and see His hand in all the kindnesses and in the loving presence of friends as we grieved.
A dear priest friend celebrated her funeral. His words were my comfort then as they are now. He told us how this one precious life, however short had infinite value and of how she touched so many just because she lived. Now I see the privilege given us to be blessed with this special child who watches over all of our family. We count on her to protect us and to whisper our needs to God. We are forever grateful that He trusted us enough to share His gift of her life, one that will live forever.