Allison’s Story

Chapter 1

On May 22nd, 2012 I went to see my doctors for my annual checkup. I knew I was a couple of days late but thats not unusual so I thought nothing of it. Well, she suspected something was up so she wanted me to take a pregnancy test before I left. I came out of the exam room and heard her and her nurse in the lab giggling. I walked in and my doctor gave me a big hug and started congratulating me. I thought for sure she had me mixed up with someone else, so I told her nurse to test it again,
I didnt believe them. (this is much like when you find out at home and have to take 7 pregnancy tests before you start believing it). Sure enough, the test was positive again! I walked out in a daze. I was very shocked, my husband and I had a “plan” to start trying again a few months from then, but like they say, life happens when you are busy making other plans! It was a very uneventful pregnancy at first. No sickness, no tiredness, no weight gain. This concerned me. I went for my second appointment (now 8 weeks pregnant) and told my doctor there was something wrong. I had already had blood work done, and after the ultrasound that day and a sonograph with a strong heartbeat in the 170s, she assured me that everything was just fine. My pregnancy continued, and while I couldnt shake the feeling something was wrong, I tried to ignore it and believe my doctor when she told me it was just second baby jitters and it was fine. 14 weeks came around, by this time my pregnancy symptoms were in full swing, and we decided to go to a place in town that could do an ultrasound “for fun” and tell us what the gender of our little peanut was. We made a big ordeal of it, invited all of our family and my best friends so they could watch the ultrasound on the big screen tv. Before we went in, a feeling of dread again smacked me in the face. I cried in the car because all of our family was with us, and I was afraid there wouldnt be a heartbeat. My husband assured me all was fine, and into the ultrasound place we went. I laid down on the table as everyone gathered in the room and silently prayed that my baby would be bouncing around on the monitor. Sure enough, there she was! I knew as soon as we saw her, she was a girl. The ultrasound tech silently confirmed to me what she was before announcing ITS A GIRL on the big screen that everyone was watching the ultrasound on. I left in a state of bliss. Two girls?! Oh the fun they will have together! The late night whispering in their rooms, sharing clothes when they got older. It was all unfolding in front of me, but still, that nagging feeling persisted…..

Chapter 2

In August, we went for our 20 week ultrasound, and since my schedule was pretty tight, it ended up actually being around 18 weeks. A little early but the ultrasound place assured me that was ok. The night before, I was crawling into bed, and told my husband “I hope tomorrow goes ok. I have this feeling that this baby is sick, and I cant see us bringing her home”.
My husband is a pretty laid back guy, so me saying these things didnt really alarm him. I went in the next afternoon, still uneasy, but by now the pregnancy had been nothing but healthy so I just shook it off as I always did. The ultrasound tech spent a few minutes playing around with her, confirming she was a girl and chatting with me. Then she really started concentrating and said that she was having a hard time seeing the chambers in Allisons heart the way she should be able to, and that Allison was measuring small, so we needed to reschedule an appointment after 20 weeks. She assured me everything was fine, I was just scheduled too early to be able to see what she needed to. We rescheduled for 4 weeks later (22 weeks). To a normal person, this wouldnt be anything alarming. For me, I knew it was the start of something really bad. I made an immediate appointment with my doctor for 2 days later. She listened to hear heartbeat, it was very strong. She already had the report from the ultrasound, and the tech made no indication of anything being wrong on the report. I was assured everything was fine again. The next 4 weeks were hard for me. I was impatient, irritable and all I wanted was to go back for my ultrasound and see a perfectly functioning 4 chamber heart. On September 20th, I went back for my follow up ultrasound to see if they could see her better. I got the same ultrasound tech and she welcomed me back and took me into the same room where 4 weeks ago she told me everything was fine but she just couldnt see what she needed to. I left that day with much different news than “everything is fine”..

Chapter 3

I laid down on the table again, pulled up my shirt and the nurse squirted the warm jelly on my belly again. Dustin was sitting next to me with our little girl Olivia on his lap. The tech asked me the normal questions, Hows it going? Anything change since your last visit? etc. I wasnt in a chit chatty mood, so the ultrasound began. She confirmed (for the third time now) that Allison was a girl. Next she went straight for her heart, since that was the area of concern at the last visit. I am a pretty good reader of people, but I didnt even have to look at her face, I saw on the screen, something was wrong. Very wrong. In place of the little round, divided heart that I had grown so accustomed to looking at with my previous pregnancy, there was a little round, seemingly undivided “floppy” heart (as I described it). I looked over and the tech looked uneasy. I asked her and she told me, it appears there is a heart defect. Ok. A heart defect. We can fix this. Right? We chatted about what she may have, and she said it appeared to be AV Canal. I put that in my memory bank to come home and research, and she told me it was serious but repairable. I was upset. Not devastated. Yet. Next she tells me the baby is still not growing correctly. Next she tells me that Allison has a cleft lip and a cleft palate. My head was spinning at this point. And then she said it “There is a brain defect too, I am afraid there is something underlying causing this”…she left the room to discuss her findings with the doctor they had on staff. I needed to scream I TOLD YOU SO. I needed to cry. I needed to vomit. But, my daughter was there. I stumbled of the table and instructed my husband to call a very good friend of ours who worked right down the road to come and get Olivia. He was there within minutes and took Olivia home with him. After she left, the ultrasound tech came back in and turned on her video chat. I was then forced to sit in front of a screen and talk to a stranger who kept asking me if I “understood” what they were telling me. My child was sick. My child likely wouldnt survive. My child was “incompatible with life”. The words swallowed me up. I remember being told several times I was early enough along to terminate the pregnancy, but i only had a couple of weeks to decide. I wanted to hit her. To throw something at the screen. I wanted to hurt this woman as badly as she was hurting me. I had to get out of there. Before I left, I made the ultrasound tech call MY doctor. I needed to talk to her, and it had to be NOW. I heard her whispering all of the findings to Dr Staten on the phone. My doctor wanted to talk to me. She would fix this right? I mean, she was not just my doctor but my friend. She would tell me the tech was wrong and the lady on the screen was full of it. Instead, she softly asked me to come to her office immediately. I left the ultrasound place and vowed i would NEVER step foot into that building again. I went into my doctors office and was taken immediately back to a room by her receptionist. The office was closed already so Dr Staten came in immediately. She looked sick. Im sure I looked sicker. She calmly and quietly explained all of the findings. I could see the pain on her face as I cried through them. She told me it appeared we had some serious issues and we needed to find out the underlying cause so we could take care of Allison in the best way we could. Finally. Someone who wanted to take CARE of her! My doctor never once brought up terminating her. She knew me better than that. She told me it seemed to be a chromosomal abnormality, possibly trisomy 21 or 18 and explained the implications of both. I left with an appointment with a specialist in St Louis 4 days later, and a heart that was broken. In the next few days I will post about how the specialist journey started, how we were diagnosed and the road we took to finding help, and ultimately, peace.

 

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2 thoughts on “Allison’s Story

  1. When I click on “Allison’s story” I can only scroll down low enough to read through chapter 11. I want to read the rest! 😉

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