For the last few days I have been remembering our unborn child from my 12 week pregnancy. A name kept forming in my mind. Sophie. I’ve named her. Sophie Z. I can picture what she looked like on the screen at our 10 ½ week ultrasound sound. I remember her kicking her legs and waving her arms. I remember watching and listening to her heartbeat. It was such a happy and amazing experience.
I have wondered why I have been thinking about her so much in the last few days. Today I have come to the belief that it is probably as a result of our decision to discontinue treatments. Now I am remembering her as the only child of our own that I will ever know.
Genetic testing told us not only that Sophie was a girl, but also that she had Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards Syndrome. Trisomy 18 is similar to Downs Syndrome in that it is an extra chromosome. While Downs Syndrome children have an extra chromosome 21, Edwards Syndrome babies have an extra chromosome 18.
It is unusual for babies with this condition to make it to full term. Those that do are either still born or die within the first week of life. Occasionally some make it further than that, but it is rare. While there were also other reasons for my infertility, a large factor is the age of my eggs and the resulting genetic damage that occurs as they age. Our chances of finding a good egg are so minimal, but with all the medical assistance we were getting, Sophie was able to battle on for a little while.
Looking back now, I know the moment that she died. I had started to feel little flutters in my uterus which the doctors told me were her moving. Obviously it was too early to feel any solid movements but I was told that these little flutters were common to feel in the early stage of pregnancy.
One day, whilst I was laying down resting, I felt the strongest flutter of all. It brought a smile to my face and I was so happy. As the days passed, I didn’t feel it again and I also no longer felt a connection to the baby. I didn’t think too much of it though. I’d never been this far into a pregnancy before. I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe I had been imagining the early feelings I had of conversing with Sophie and being aware of her energy inside me.
I started feeling that the whole pregnancy was surreal. With all that we had been through, I thought perhaps it fairly normal that I felt that way. After all, it had been four years of failed attempts. It was a dream come true to have finally been successful. What I didn’t know consciously, was that Sophie had died. But I believe that someplace, deep inside my soul, I did know, and that is why it had all started to feel surreal. After the dating scan and then the post mortem testing, I know now, from the bottom of my heart, that the last flutter I felt, was the moment she passed on.
It has been 24 hours since I wrote this memoir to our baby. Thinking of her has given me something to hold on to through this grief and heartache. I have held her close to my heart and remembered how much I loved her in just the short time that she survived. I think how wonderful it would have been to hold her in my arms, to watch her play with her father and to see her grow up.
But it wasn’t meant to be. DH and I met too late in life and my ability to have children has passed it’s used by date. Thinking about Sophie and all our other lost embryos is painful. We had a nickname for our last frozen embryo – Nemo. Our last loss.
It is so important for us all to acknowledge what never came to be. In order to heal we can’t keep inside us what a big loss it is. Our embryos and pregnancies were the early stages of life, the early stages of our children that never had a chance.
It is important to talk to others about our journey in trying to become parents, the depth of the emotions at our failure and the desperate heartache in losing, not only our potential children, but our dreams of parenthood. It hurts so much that what was created never came to be, that we never got to spend time with our offspring, to hold them, to care for them and to have created warm and special memories of them. Our nests were never full. My heart aches for that.
To Sophie, Nemo, and all the others – you will be in our hearts forever.