Just before the summer holidays the children's school had a fund-raising drive whereby the school benefited by €2.50 for each bag of old clothes, linens etc. collected. I grabbed the bull by the horns, being both in declutter mode and reeling from yet another miscarriage, and filled some of the bags with all my babygros, baby sheets, socks, vests...the full gamut! Can you see where this is heading? Within a month there were the two familiar pink lines and two early scans showed this baby was here to stay!! We were thrilled!!
Unknownst to us, the children had been on a prayer drive headed up by the eldest, Rebecca, first of all for a baby and subsequently for it's survival!! I'd always assured them that God loves the prayers of Children and the Sick and thus their confidence was high that they'd get their request.
Well anyway, after a very nervous few months for me, I was breathing easily and could hardly wait to discover at the routine Ultrasound Scan whether the little one was a boy or girl. However, with the benefit of hindsight, I now recognise that God was gently preparing me for that day. Firstly, for the only time since my first pregnancy, I'd asked John to take the morning off and come to the scan with me. Then without seeking them out I'd read a number of articles, seen beautiful videos on FaceBook and so on which were laying down the foundations I was soon going to be needing. Finally, that morning I did something I never do...wore no eye make-up! Leaving the house I tucked some tissues in my bag, again something I rarely do.
The rest of this post will show the reasons I'm sharing my story which is really just beginning. I'm hoping it will help both me and also anyone else who's heading down a road that looks so scary. Maybe as the road unfolds it'll be better than the beaten track and we can all come out better than before in spite of the bramble scratches, stumbles over unseen barriers and maybe even some beautiful sunny and refreshing copses.
IN THE ULTRASOUND ROOM
After the usual wait, John and I were welcomed into the Ultrasound room by the Sonographer. All was normal at first and we were told we were having a little daughter then she indicated to us that she wasn't seeing what she was hoping for and went on to point out the large fluid filled area at the back of the brain and the fact that the cerebellum seemed small. Not alone that, moving to the heart it was clear even to me let alone John who is a GP that it didn't look right. The girl explained that the tricuspid valve wasn't visible and that as a result the right lower ventricle was seriously underdeveloped. A large hole between the two upper ventricles was also clear to see. I slipped into surreal mode and presumed like a child going to her father with a broken toy that ' They can fix it, can't they?'
We waited for about an hour to see the consultant and fellow of fetal medicine who rescanned on another machine and came up with the same thing. At this point it was presented to us that this could possibly be a condition incompatible with life and an amniocentesis test would be required to assess whether seeing any other specialists would be worthwhile. We agreed to this and the test was done. I was shaking slightly by now and of course pretty tearful but strangely at the same time I felt calm and that God was here in all this.
The next three days went by and I think I heard every tick of the clock. Thursday came and the phonecall from the hospital gave us the only bit of news I wanted...the initial chromosomal results ruled out the 3 main fatal conditions...we could put up a fight for our beautiful daughter!! It would be another 3 weeks before the full chromosomal result returned with a normal result. We were still of course left with these two serious anomalies but at least now we'd see a fetal cardiologist and have an MRI done on the baby's brain to get a more definitive picture.
Well without going into a blow by blow account, our lovely cardiologist saw us pretty quickly and we came home on a high..he diagnosed tricuspid atresia and was optimistic the heart could be operated on in 3 operations to reroute the blood to the lungs by an alternative route. The MRI carried out on Monday of Christmas week resulted in the confirmed diagnosis of Dandy-Walker Malformation...DANDY WHAT?