Diagnosis: Spina bifida with severe hydrocephalus
By Taryn's Mom
I was pregnant with our fifth child, so I was no stranger to birth defects. I had previously had a son born with paralyzed vocal chords who had
to have a tracheotomy at the age of 6. He had a tough go, but somehow beat the odds. I was a woman who thought I was strongly against abortion; as
a teen I had gotten pregnant and we chose to carry through the pregnancy. That child became my very best friend as time went on. She helped me
through the hard times with my son's issues and sat by my father when he was fatally ill. Knowing how easily I could have taken either child out of
my life, I was more pro life than ever. I knew where I stood about decisions with babies, or so I thought.
Shortly after Thanksgiving I started spotting at work. I worked in retail, it was Christmas, and the lines were long, but I decided it best to
go see my OB. I remember my workmates being upset with me because they thought I was trying to have an excuse to get out of work. When I got to the
Dr. he decided to run another sonogram. I knew things seemed quiet and not as upbeat as I was used to, and then the technician asked if the baby
had been kicking a lot. I realized I really did not know. After 4 kids! The baby did kick, but now that she mentioned it, but maybe not as much?
The Dr. came in to talk to me and I was upset. It was not one of my more favorites Dr.'s and I found his bedside manner lacking, which did not help.
Then he dropped the bomb on me that the baby had spina bifida with a severe case of hydrocephalus. I was alone since my husband was working, but my
mom lived right down the hill. She is a nervous woman, and I hated to call, but somehow got the words through the tears and she came and picked me
up. I couldn't drive the car the two blocks to her house. I knew I would not make it out the front door without my mother.
Since I was 24 weeks pregnant, I was sent immediately to the high risk doctor who told me we had two days to make a decision, or we would have
to carry full term. Two days. There was no guarantee she would even make it to full term. If she was born alive they said she would be in a wheel
chair. I remember saying I did not care as long as everything else was okay. They gently worked into the fact that it would NOT be okay, and that
she was going to have brain issues as well. I kept thinking of my son and how he beat the odds. The doctor kept telling me, "this is not your son,
it is much worse." I went home and was looking out our picture window and saw my son outside climbing a tree, something this baby would never even
be able to dream of doing.
I started to piece together the magnitude of the situation, and did as much research in two days as I could. While crying, I remember curling up
on the bed in a knot and holding her and feeling kicks. The doctor said she would kick in utero as it was in fluid and easy, but once I delivered
her she would be paralyzed. Members of the church called; some supporting any decision we made and some with very opinionated thoughts. I was mad
that I had to make this decision, that God did not just take the baby. I was mad that I had to go against my own principles. I was terrified, sad,
and felt like the world should just stop.
We made the decision that it was fair to no one, especially the baby, to continue with the pregnancy. It seemed harder that we knew it was a
girl. She fit into the girl, boy, girl, boy pattern we had. On the way to the hospital I felt her kick and I felt sickened. The procedure went
fairly fast compared to what it could have been, and we got to spend time with Taryn Michelle. We named her that after our two daughters. She was
born December 1 and buried December 3. As we drove into the cemetery, "The Little Drummer Boy", one of my favorite Christmas songs, started playing.
I had made up my mind that I wanted that baby, and felt that she would somehow be given back. I felt so lost without her. I was scared that if I
tried for another I would not be given one as punishment somehow. One day my husband came home and I was sewing baby blankets. He asked what for
in a gentle manner; I think he was questioning my sanity at this point; and I told him I wanted to try again at age 36, I WAS having another baby.
Nine months later we were given a healthy baby girl, who will be 14 in December. I know that Taryn would have been 1 year older, and I think of
her quite often. One day when my daughter was about 6 we went to the cemetery. As we were leaving she asked what had happened to Taryn. I explained
that her back was open and what the outcome would have been, and how she would have hurt. As we drove to the exit, she said, "Don't worry mommy, MY
back doesn't hurt anymore."
I think I skipped multiple breaths when she said that. I don't know how I feel about spirits or being contacted afterward, but somehow that
sentence has brought me so much comfort and peace in my decision. I know my daughter is not Taryn, but I feel like I was being told that it was the
right decision and not to feel guilt.
Am I still angry? I still feel the loss. I still question my own beliefs. The first few years I felt literally raped of my life. Time has made it
easier, but it still brings up an array of emotions. I did what I did out of pure love and I can't use the word regret. I think we did right. I just
wonder why this heartache must happen.
I love you Taryn. Always.