Joachim's Story

Diagnosis: Anencephaly

By Vanessa

I found out I was pregnant on the night of December 6, 2007 with a home pregnancy test. It was the happiest moment of my life so far because I was told I could not get pregnant due to my Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. I had called my husband because he was out of state; he was very excited. On the morning of December 7th I took another test just to be sure I was pregnant; once again it was positive. I made a doctor’s appointment with a local doctor here in town, just to confirm I was really pregnant. She was happy for me because she knew I was not supposed to have children. She then made an appointment for me with an OB/GYN. In the mean time my mom and I went and bought the crib, swing, car seat, stroller, and play pen. It was all in a Winnie the Pooh theme for either a boy or girl.

I went in for my first doctor’s appointment, took another pee test, and had an ultrasound to see my "lil peanut" as she called it. I was 6 weeks pregnant. I then had an ultrasound when I was 10 weeks and we called the baby a gummy bear because that’s what the baby looked like. So now baby went from lil peanut to gummy bear. At 13 weeks I had another ultrasound because she could not find the baby’s heart beat with the machine they use to hear it. She said I was carrying the baby really low. Once we did the ultrasound everything looked good and she said we would not do another ultrasound until it was time to know what I was having.

Everything was going well. I started having morning sickness in January, which is normal when you’re pregnant, but I noticed it was getting worse. I was getting sick after EVERYTHING I ate. At my next doctor’s appointment I brought it up to her, she prescribed me folic acid and said it would help. The morning sickness continued. I could not even go out to eat because I was embarrassed and knew what was going to happen when I ate.

My next doctor’s appointment they sent me to the hospital for blood work. I got a call 2 days later from my doctor'’s nurse; she said I needed to see a special doctor in Omaha (I'm from Nebraska) or I could wait a month until he came back our way to see him. I didn’t want to wait. I wanted to know what was wrong because my AFP level was low. She explained to me that my baby may have a neural tube defect and she said it's more than likely spina bifida.

On March 5, 2008 we left and went to Omaha and stayed the night in a motel. My husband and my mom went with me. I had the worst feeling in the world; I knew something was wrong. March 6th I had a morning appointment with this doctor. I went in and some kind of counselor took us in a room and explained the most common neural tube defects. I was already in tears, I’ve waited so long for a baby and hearing what she was telling us was scary. I was not looking forward to seeing the doctor.

When she was done going over the defects, getting all of our family history, from both sides, we went back and sat in the waiting room for the nurse to call us. About 15 minutes later it was our turn. The doctor came in and asked if we knew why we were here. He explained to us what they were going to be looking for. We had SEVERAL ultrasounds done. The spine looked good; I didn’t know what else could have been the problem.

After the Technician had done the ultrasounds she said she had to go talk to the doctor and was gone for a short time. When she returned the doctor came in with her, he had a look on his face I never want to see again. I wasn't sure what he was about to say but I knew it was not good. He gave me the pictures of our baby's legs and arms and he said your baby has anencephaly. I wasn't sure what it was; I asked him what that meant. He explained it to us. We all broke down in tears; my mom, husband and myself. He then said he needed to go call my OB/GYN and see what she wanted me to do.

She wanted us to go back to Hastings and see her. So we got on the road. My husband was in his car, he met my mom and me in Omaha because he was in Kansas. My mom does not drive so I drove with my mom and my husband behind us to Hastings; it’s about a 2 hour drive. We all went in and saw my OB/GYN. She gave me the option of terminating my pregnancy or carrying the baby full term. I was 19 weeks pregnant.

I chose to terminate my pregnancy because I didn’t want to get more attached to this baby I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep, than I already was. I was a mess. We drove home about an hour and a half from Hastings. On March 7th my doctor prescribed me some kind of pill I had to pick up from the pharmacy and stick it in my vagina myself. I couldn't go into the hospital until I was having contractions. We got the medicine at about 11 am, and drove to Hastings so I would be close when the contractions happened. We went to every store and walked around.

I went to the hospital at 3 pm because I was feeling cramps. They admitted me although I wasn't bleeding or anything. At 6 pm they inserted more pills inside of me and that'’s when I started feeling the REAL contractions. I didn't want the epidural until I really needed it; I was scared to have a needle in my back. Finally, around 11 pm that night I was ready for the epidural. I went to sit up on the edge of the bed and my water broke, not even 5 minutes later my baby came.

I was crying so so hard because I didn't want him to come. I wanted him to stay where he was because I knew he would still be alive as long as he was inside of me. It was a boy; we named him Joachim (Wah-Keem). He had all his fingers, and all of his toes. He was so precious. I asked the nurse if he was alive, she said she checked for his heart beat and there wasn't one. I lost it again.

The nurse took him and cleaned him up, called my doctor to come. He only weighed 4oz. I didn’t have clothes small enough for him, so they wrapped him in a little blanket the nurse had made me. She also had to make a little hat because he was too small. They brought him in and I held him for the first time. I kept him in the room all night with me even though he wasn't alive. I still had my baby in my arms, and those 12 hours I had him I cherished too much.

When the guy from the funeral home came to take him from me I wasn't ready to let him go. I wanted to keep him forever. I finally gave him up because I knew it was time for me to let him go. Daddy said his good byes; grandma said hers and I gave him one last kiss and let him go. It was hard but I knew he was in a better place. The hardest part for me was walking by the babies to leave the hospital and leaving the hospital with no baby. I had my little boy cremated and put in a necklace I will never let go of.


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