July 24, 2017
Let’s talk about trauma for a minute. Carrying a baby with a life-limiting prenatal diagnosis was the most traumatic experience of my life. Before this, I did not have a deep understanding of how it presents itself. Anxiety and panic attacks became new to me.
There are a handful of traumatic dates that are engrained in my brain. July 24, 2017 is one. This is when my pregnancy truly gets dark—three months before Eva’s actual birth.
I woke super early. My brain kept reaching for hope, but my gut told me this ultrasound with the specialists was not going to go well. Looking back, I should have asked my husband to go with me, but the logical side said, “I’m just going to go to work after the appointment.” I meditated, practiced yoga, wrote in my journal—and I bawled and bawled.
Then I drove my naïve-self an hour away to the maternal fetal medicine specialists. I sat alone as the doctor listed off a whole list of abnormalities with my much-longed for baby: Intrauterine Growth Restriction (measuring at 3%), extra fluid, clubfoot, agenesis of the corpus callosum, possible heart tumor and kidneys/bowels showing “bright.”
And THEN I was walked into the genetic counselor’s office, where I sat next to a sign that read: “My family tree has some twisted freakin’ roots.” I thought it was funny, so I took a picture. I no longer find it funny. The geneticist spoke to me over a screen from another location, explaining how Eva probably had a chromosomal abnormality, but it was a rare one because she didn’t fit the more common trisomy 21, 18 and 13.
I was 22.5 weeks pregnant. I didn’t cry. I took notes. I held it together. At the end of it all the doctor asked, “Do you have any questions?” SHOCK. “No, not right now,” I said. (I am usually a woman with lots of questions.)
I drove straight to the Wrights Park Conservatory, a special place I shared with my Grandma, who Eva is named after. I took off my shoes and sat in the grass as tears flowed down to the earth. Hopeful my grandma could offer some wisdom from beyond. Needless to say, I didn’t make it to work that day.
So much took place after that appointment that I never really had a chance to process it. On my journey to heal, I refuse to practice emotional detachment and ignore these traumatic triggers on the calendar. They are imprinted in my mind and I fear they will present themselves in unconscious ways if I don’t acknowledge them now. That’s what I’m doing here with you. I’m not sitting alone with it because I know I’m not alone. Maybe sharing this helps you feel not as alone too.