As a warning, this post is fairly personal (more so than probably any other one on the site). There are no financial tips or ways to save money by going green here. Feel free to skip this article if you wish and we will be back to our normal programming next time.
A few months ago, my wife and I found out that she was pregnant with twins. As of that moment, we knew exactly 3 people that were our age with kids (and one of those couples had a 1 month old, another a 8 month old). Needless to say, both of us were pretty unfamiliar with pregnancy and everything that comes along with it. For instance, I still cant comprehend why my wife was sleeping like 14 hours a day during the first trimester, but I’m more familiar with it now. What I really mean is that the while we still cant claim to know everything about pregnancy, we know a lot more than we did when we started (if you’re curious, she’s 26 weeks/6.5 months along as of this writing).
I was excited for a lot of reasons when we found out. I could generate a lot of interesting baby related content for the site, begin a new chapter in my life with my wife by creating a family of our own. We can develop our own traditions for the holidays and experience the joys of raising a family.
One thing that my wife or I did not expect 6 months ago was the emotional roller coaster we had just gotten in line for.
See, when we first found out we were pregnant, I frequently joked with my wife that it was twins (before we found out officially). That ended up being true, and we both were excited. Personally, I was excited because the odds were high that we would be having one child of each gender and they would have a buddy to grow up with.
I was also excited to have a son (and a daughter – but I’m more familiar with a father son relationship) so that I could have a relationship with him similar to what my dad and I had. Playing sports, being outside and sharing a close bond. I could still do all of these with a daughter, but it was exciting to have a son as well.
We went to the 20 week ultrasound (where gender gets confirmed, typically) and the doctors confirmed what we had suspected. Unfortunately, the excitement that I had about having a son lasted for all of an hour. After the ultrasound lady left, my wife said
“I wonder if she found anything wrong she would tell you, or if she tells the doctor and has them look at it first”
I of course wasn’t sure, so I simply said “Well, we are going to find out soon enough” – not really thinking that we had anything to worry about. I was simply commenting on the fact that we were soon going to figure out the process. Well, soon the doctor came in and a black cloud rolled over the pregnancy.
The ultrasound lady found some “abnormalities” with the baby boy, and the doctor was there to take a look and let us know what she thought. I was shocked initially, and listened to what the doctors said. Then I was crushed. They told us they thought a few things were wrong, and that we needed to go down to a hospital in Denver for further testing. As soon as we got home from the doctor, my wife and I went and searched for some of the different conditions that the doctors mentioned, and then sat down and told each other what we thought. At this point, my hopes were not high but we decided that we would hold off on doing anything else until we got an official diagnosis from the doctors down in Denver.
The trip to Denver came about 1 week later, and my wife and I were pretty nervous (and personally, I was not very hopeful). We left Wyoming early, and spent a grand total of 12 hours (or so) at the hospital. We met with cardiologists, perinatologists, geneticists, fetal care specialists and a whole bunch more people.
Even though H and I were as prepared as possible for bad news, I think we both held out a little hope that the problem would be correctable with surgery (as opposed to chromosomal, which we feared). Each doctor we talked to looked at what they needed to look at, and then we went on to the next doctor. Personally, I just felt like I was going through the motions – I had long ago put together the pieces that the doctors in wyoming told us and came up with a diagnosis. Of course, it goes without saying that I’m clearly not a doctor, but was still fairly confident in what I thought was wrong. As the day wore on, it started to bother me that no one was mentioning it as a possibility (even though I know there was no way to be 100% sure without a genetic test). I knew that the doctors wouldn’t say anything without 100% certainty, and I knew that it could only be gotten with a genetic test, yet still I would get annoyed with them not mentioning it.
Poor H had to undergo all of these tests, ultrasounds and everything, and it was a very long day. Not shockingly, I wasn’t involved much in testing and was the answering questions while discussing genetics and trying to help out my wife as much as possible. Finally, at around 6 pm, the doctors found us a spot to sit and relax (as if we could) and met for a while before delivering their conclusions on the case.
After waiting for around 45 minutes to an hour, we got to meet with all of the doctors and they gave us conclusions. Unfortunately, the results were not pretty. We had begun to suspect that it was a lethal chromosomal abnormality and the doctors did not confirm what we suspected, but confirmed that our son may not live to full term. In the event that he did live to full term, his conditions were so numerous and severe that he would die during birth, or immediately after. Thankfully, H and I didn’t hold out hope that he would be fine, only to have it ruthlessly dashed at the meeting with the doctors.
They sent us back home, and the next day we headed out to visit family for Christmas. Merry Christmas, right?
A few days after we got back, we had genetic testing done to confirm what the doctors suspected. The results came back, and it turns out that he had a condition called Patau Syndrome, sometimes called trisomy-13. Basically, there were 47 chromosomes instead of the normal 46 (23 from me, 23 from H), which screwed up development at just about every step of the way. While we initially suspected a duplicate copy of a different chromosome (18), the results were no less bad.
Not long after the amniotic test, we had a follow up visit with the doctor in Wyoming. Unfortunately, during the ultrasound, they were unable to detect a heartbeat for our son. While not unexpected, it’s no less damaging or easier to deal with.
Personally, I am more concerned about what is going to happen to our daughter. Twins share a special (read: weird) bond, and I wonder if she will feel like a part of her is missing growing up. I wonder if I’ll be able to look at her without thinking of the brother she had for a brief time.
Thankfully, the pregnancy isn’t a total loss (as it would have been if there were not twins) but it doesnt make it any easier. For now, my wife and I are just taking it a day at a time, trying as best we can to prepare for the other baby (who is totally healthy) and are looking forward to welcoming her into our family.