On September 22nd, I was worried because Abby wasn’t moving as much as usual, so we went to the ER and they checked her heartbeat and did an ultrasound. The fluid accumulation had increased, there were pockets in the abdomen, the head and the heart. That condition is characteristic of “Hydrops Fetalis”, and meant that Abby was in heart failure. Hydrops fetalis is fatal most of the time (10% survival rate). That day is when we understood the severity of her condition. The on-call doctor told us that she was very sorry.
What were we supposed to do now? Wait and let our precious little miracle baby girl die? After arriving home from the hospital that night, we told our baby girl that we knew she was a fighter, and that we love her very much, but if this was too much for her, we would understand if she decided to leave us and go peacefully.
The next day they evaluate us again, we asked if there was anything to do to stop the fluid accumulation and give Abby more time to develop, but the answer was negative, there was nothing to do in the womb and at 25 weeks Abby couldn’t make it by herself, a transplant was not an option yet due to her small size. She needed to make it to at least 32 weeks so they could intervene, but we were told her life expectancy was just two more weeks. The doctors said it wasn’t likely that we would take her home, they apologized and told us moving forward we were gonna have weekly appointments.
At that point, we let our families know about the news and started making arrangements for them to come and meet Abby.
We went home devastated, our hearts broken and with a huge uncertainty about the future. Not feeling Abby’s movements was anguishing, there was no way to know if she passed away. But we decided to make the time she still had with us count.
That weekend we went swimming with Abby for the first time. The next day we watched hot air balloons! We wanted to ride one, but it turns out that was not an option, we enjoyed the show anyway!
On September 26th, our 7th wedding anniversary, we decided to go to a private ultrasound place to see our little baby’s face, our latest hospital appointments didn’t offer us that option, focusing only on the heart defect. I was tired of hearing about the medical condition and wanted to see her perfect little face. We wrote to “Baby Meets World” and they accommodated us that same day at 5 pm. Abby’s face was hidden against the placenta, so we couldn’t take a clear picture of her. They offered us to go back on Friday and didn’t charge us for the appointment. We went home happy because her heart was beating (130 bpm).
Two days after (September 28th) we had a regular prenatal control appointment, we heard her heartbeat for the second time that week (145 bpm), our baby was still with us!
The next ultrasound appointment was on Friday 30th at 2 pm. We were already nervous because we didn’t know what to expect, even when we felt Abby’s movement in the morning and the day before. When the technician started, we couldn’t see heart movement. Immediately Sergio took my hand. The technician started to focus on measurements and I asked to look for the heart again… she said her condolences and confirmed what we feared. She asked us if we wanted a last picture, and we said yes. Abby’s little heart couldn’t resist any longer, I was in shock and started hyperventilating, she wasn’t with us anymore. We hugged and cried.
We were taken to the doctor’s office where she explained what was next. There were two options, go home and come back the next day, or start the induction at that moment. We didn’t want Abby’s body deteriorating before coming to the world so we decided to start the process as soon as possible. We were admitted to the hospital to give birth to our baby. I asked Sergio to bring Abby’s stuffed animals before the medicine took effect. While Sergio wasn’t there, I started to reflect on Abby´s life and thought that infertility somehow found its way and won… again.
It was the saddest day in our lives, but at the same time we were ready to meet her.