To me, our journey with Calvin started long before confirming a pregnancy via two pink lines. I have been wanting three children ever since Adam and I discussed children, and even immediately after our second daughter was born, I knew that I did not feel "done." The summer of 2011 we experienced an early first trimester miscarriage, a pregnancy that was a surprise, that as a family we were not ready for, but as a mother left me devastated.
By late 2012 my husband and I were beginning to talk about trying for another baby, and by the end of February 2013, a bit earlier than expected, I was pregnant. We were thrilled and started telling our families (and our girls) shortly after.
The first trimester went surprisingly well. The nausea and vomiting I experienced with each of the girls was no where to be found. I was, however, afraid that I would miscarry, constantly fearing finding blood in my underwear. We had our regular doctor appointments, the only thing of note being that several times they couldn't find a heartbeat, which was disconcerting, of course, but our baby's heartbeat was confirmed on ultrasound every time.
Right before my twenty-week ultrasound I began experiencing some very light spotting, but the doctor was able to find the baby's heartbeat quickly so my anxiety subsided.
Looking back my husband and I note that our technician, who was the same for our first two pregnancies, was a bit quieter than usual, but at the time we were completely unaware. (Hindsight is twenty-twenty and all of that.) At the end of our twenty-week ultrasound she told us that the baby was measuring more than two weeks behind its due date. We were still naive and as we sat waiting for the doctor talked about whether or not they would push back his due date, still blind to the idea that something was wrong.
I still remember the moment when the doctor sat down and told us that there were some very concerning things found on the ultrasound. I remember all-of-a-sudden feeling like the oxygen was sucked out the room, and simultaneously like the world had stopped and my head was spinning.
We were referred to a specialist, who was able to do a level two ultrasound and see us later on that same day. I broke down after the doctor left our exam room terrified at what it all meant.
At Maternal Fetal Medicine we met with a genetic counselor who went through our family histories and talked a little about the most common genetic abnormalities as well as viral infections. The level two ultrasound technician went through every thing she was looking at telling us what was "normal" and what was "abnormal". I vividly remember thinking, she sure is saying a lot more looks abnormal than normal.
Given the results of the ultrasound, we opted for an amniocentesis, and were told we should have preliminary results the following Monday and the final results in two weeks.
Over the weekend we tried not to google any of the possibilities, but it was hard, and we both did a bit of research. Our level two ultrasound tech had very briefly brought up Triploidy, saying that given our baby's appearance that would be her guess, but neither the genetic counselor nor the doctor mentioned anything other than Trisomy 13, 18, or 21.
On Monday we got the phone call confirming Triploidy. I was glad that it was one thing I had googled so that I felt informed enough to ask questions. Our baby, who we found out via the amnio was a boy, had a full extra set of chromosomes, so instead of 46 (23 from each parent) he somehow ended up with 69. It is a condition not compatible with life outside the womb. In fact, it is very uncommon for a Triploidy pregnancy to make it past the first trimester.
Two weeks later the final results also confirmed Triploidy, as well as that our baby had been exposed to a virus, which was completely separate and had nothing to do with Triploidy or our baby's prognosis. Through our sorrow, Adam and I were able to acknowledge just how much of a fighter our son was.
We decided to continue the pregnancy, knowing that we would lose him, but not feeling comfortable making any decision other than letting God (or nature) determine when his time had come.
With a Triploidy pregnancy there is an increased risk for pre-eclampsia, so we monitored my blood pressure at home and had weekly doctor visits for blood pressure checks, urine tests, and blood draws. He was so small that I rarely felt him move, so periodically we had ultrasounds to monitor his growth.
Several weeks into our new reality I began bleeding, convincing me that we were losing him. The ultrasound, however, confirmed a strong-hearted little boy. I spent the rest of pregnancy spotting and/or bleeding.
We decided on a name, Calvin John, and began talking about him as much as possible with our girls. We made him a part of our days as much as we could, encouraging the girls to kiss my belly, give him raspberries, and make as many memories as possible. It was heartbreaking.
The week before my twenty-nine week appointment, I stopped bleeding. When we went in for our weekly visit to the doctor we found out that Calvin's heart had stopped beating. Our sweet baby, who shouldn't have made it past thirteen weeks, lived for six and half months in my womb. With not only the Triploidy but also the positive virus, he was the strongest little guy we never got to know.
His death was confirmed at the hospital and we opted to begin an induction that night, hoping our doctor would be able to be there to deliver him the following day. We had two of the best nurses and our doctor came just in time to deliver Calvin.
Calvin John was born into the arms of angels on Saturday, August 17th at 2:55pm. He was 10 inches long and weighed in at 11 ounces. We spent the rest of the day with him, getting a blessing from the hospital chaplain, visits from our families, and having our pictures taken with our sweet baby boy.
Saying goodbye to our son was the hardest thing I have ever done.
You can find all the posts written during my pregnancy and about Calvin here. And all the posts regarding our loss here.