The Birth of a Miracle

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Told by: Jessa

After two consecutive early pregnancy losses and weeks of hormones that left me feeling beyond icky, I waited what I thought would be the longest three weeks of my life. October 24, 2012 couldn’t have come soon enough. It was finally time to take the test…and when I did, my self discipline and patience was well rewarded…WE WERE EXPECTING!!!

I called my OB’s office right away and scheduled an appointment around our 8wk time frame. Because we had been testing for ovulation and to begin progesterone support, we knew exactly when conception occurred. We knew we’d be expecting our bundle of joy July 4, 2013. When we went in for that first ultrasound, however, our measurements were just a tad off and we were given an adjusted due date of July 10, 2013. This normally is no big deal, and certainly wasn’t to my doctor; but because I was SO sure of the exact day I ovulated and conceived, I questioned it. Could there be something wrong? I was met with reassurance that if there were something “majorly wrong” this early the pregnancy would have already met it’s demise. I openly accepted that our peanut was just a little small and excitedly began making the announcement. After both my previous losses part of me wanted to be guarded, part of me thought I should wait; but in my heart I just knew this was it. It’s hard to explain because I did have all the normal fears, yet I had almost a supernatural peace of mind about this pregnancy. About this baby. About my child.

The pregnancy was pretty smooth, although I did get the sickest with this pregnancy…more so than any other. I thought this was great, though! Could it mean this was a girl? At 16wks we decided we couldn’t wait to know. We made an appointment with Sneak A Peek Ultrasound to determine if “Baby A” would be Allison or Andrew. We packed up the boys, who were equally excited to know, and made the one hour drive to a nearby town for the appointment. There we met an amazing, kind, patient, Godly woman named Cindy. Little did we know, meeting her would provide us with some of out most treasured memories. We began to watch our baby on the big screen. When we got to the “between the legs” shot, though, Baby A was NOT cooperating. We actually went back twice more before finally getting a good shot at 19wks and learning that it was a GIRL! We went on a pink shopping spree immediately only to have a contradicting answer at my medical ultrasound just four days later. What did this mean?? Not even a week before we 100% had a girl, now we 100% had a boy. Luckily I had an appointment with my OB the next day and prayed she could clear it up. She agreed to take a quick look and we became even more confused than before. If the baby was a girl, she was very “swollen” but could be developing normally. If it was a boy, something wasn’t normal. However, she wasn’t too concerned because everything else seemed fine, so if it were something it wasn’t major. I tried my hardest to just accept that and be thankful that we still had a healthy baby, but not knowing what all was or could be going on was killing me. Since she leaned towards it being a girl possibly just reacting to my hormones, we decided to accept that. We started calling her Allie.

I went the next 8 weeks with a, once again, uneventful, normal pregnancy. But at my 28wk appointment my blood pressure had skyrocketed. My OB sent me for labs and for a fetal growth/amniotic fluid level ultrasound. Fearing that my high BP may be effecting my placenta and ultimately the baby, she just wanted to check. The results would change EVERYTHING. Our Allie was measuring only about half a pound behind, but her abdomen was 2 full weeks behind and the cephalic index(size of her head) was not normal. We were immediately referred to a perinatologist at a larger hospital to get to the bottom of her growth problems.

Upon checking in, I noticed our referral form listed “asymmetrical intrauterine growth restriction and ambiguous genitalia” as our reasons for being there. We quickly learned, though, that these were two of the least of our problems. It seemed as if the doctor was giving a dissertation as he went down the laundry list of all that he saw wrong during our ultrasound. “The heart is way too far to the right of the chest. This is not normal lung tissue and appears the same as the intestinal tissue, yes, that is intestine in the chest. Severe diaphragmatic hernia. The kidneys appear ok, but I don’t see a stomach at all. Something doesn’t look right with the heart, yes, the aorta is going into the wrong side. Major heart defect there. And the cerebellum is not developing properly, please note bifid cerebellum. Do you see hands? The hands and forearms are not normal, appears to be missing at least one bone in the forearm. Definitely abnormal genitalia. Possibly chromosomal abnormalities could explain.” I COULDN’T KEEP UP!! My mind was spinning and I’m sure I only heard 80% of what was actually said. What did this mean…and what was I supposed to do? After the ultrasound, he immediately performed an amniocentesis…and those three weeks I had waited to take a pregnancy test were NOTHING compared to the next 10 days.

Then it happened. At 6:04pm on May 15, 2013, my OB called with my results. Our Allie was actually a BOY…and tested positive for full Trisomy 18. The T18 was the reason for everything from the abnormal genitalia to the hernia and heart defect. Everything…and with the diagnosis came the four most abrasive words I’ve ever heard. “Not compatible with life.” I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breath. This wasn’t real. How? Why? What now?

I saw doctors A LOT for the next couple weeks. We did so much research. Intrauterine growth restriction, transposition of the great artery, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, bifid cerebellum, clenched fists, pulmonary hypoplasia, abnormal cephalic index, rocker bottom feet…these terms became the norm…but I hated using them. My baby wasn’t a diagnosis, he was my son. It was hard to keep everything in perspective. We began having conversations with our friends, family and even our 4 and 6 year old that we shouldn’t have to be having. We began making decisions we shouldn’t have to be making. We began making our birth plan. I had one goal…and it was to meet my son and look into his eyes. We had been told it was a miracle with the diagnosis and his specific defects he had made it this far and probably wouldn’t make it to delivery….but in my heart I knew better. I believed in our Andrew. My original OB agreed to deliver me at 37wks with a comfort care birth plan. I chose this because I knew with the odds against us my greatest chance of achieving a live birth would come with him coming sooner rather than later. The date was set. We would celebrate Andrew’s birthday June 19, 2013.

That morning came faster than I ever could have imagined. As I showered I could feel my sweet Drew dancing around….it was met with such mixed emotion. We had already been through so much together. He was already so strong. He had already beaten the odds. I was so ready to have him in my arms, yet I knew that our time would be short…and I wasn’t ready for it to be over. My heart could not grasp the reality that saying hello would also mean saying goodbye. Everyone staggered in to await his arrival…my parents, grandparents, inlaws, good friends, our awesome photographer. My wonderful doula, Nicolle, came…something I was so, so , so happy about because when I first learned our birth would be “different” I wasn’t really sure what her role would be.

The first 7 hours or so were very easy…I even told my friend, Katie, that my contractions actually tickled! Because I had been so focused on all the stress of the previous weeks, I had neglected my original plan of a natural, unmedicated birth and hadn’t spent the time preparing that I should have. When it started getting tough, Nicolle had to give me a crash course! We tried several different things, but ultimately standing is what worked for me. So I stood and prayed and stood and swayed. Nicolle was worried my legs would get tired but I knew I couldn’t do anything else. Then out of nowhere a contraction came that changed everything…it wasn’t the pain…but this one was different. I started getting hot and sweating so much…and the pressure was so much more intense. Nicolle had my nurse, Brandi, check me and I had jumped from 5cm to 8cm in no time! She immediately called my doctor and by the time she ran across the parking lot from her office to the hospital we all knew it was time. I told everyone I couldn’t do it…I begged them to help me, but my OB said the only thing that would help would be to push. I did. I pushed once. My tiny son came flying into this world with one push.

Andrew Milan Martin was here. And his eyes were OPEN. I achieved my one goal…I got to look into his eyes. At 2:22pm on June 19, 2013, I gave birth to my hero. I was SOOOO proud of him. I couldn’t stop saying “you did it!” He even tried to cry a few times He was bigger than we expected at 3lb13oz and 17 1/4″ long. He was beyond perfect. We had spent so much time focusing on and learning all that was wrong with him that I was far from prepared to take in just how beautiful he was. We kissed him, we held him, we talked to him, we bathed him, we dressed him, our boys came in to meet him, our families came in to meet him. Then at 4:13pm he earned his wings. His tiny broken heart had finally stopped. This had given us more time than we expected…not that it would ever be enough. We celebrated Drew’s birth with our family. I wanted this to be a happy time…we even had cupcakes and sang Happy Birthday. His body may not have been “compatible with life” but he was definitely worthy of it.

Everyone trickled out…my doula, friends, family…we were alone. Just me, my husband and Drew. This was a very difficult time, but I’m thankful for it. We were able to take pictures, do footprints and just cuddle. We needed that. We let him leave our side for the first time at 10:00pm that night. We said what were the most difficult goodbyes of our lives and handed him to my nurse. I was beyond broken, but as she walked away I couldn’t help but be proud. I hadn’t just had a baby…I gave birth to a miracle.

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  1. Jennifer Wilson says:

    What a beautiful miracle. He is such a precious and amazing little baby boy. I love your photos. His little ears are so so sweet!! Love and strength to you and your family.

  2. His nose is just perfect! What a beautifully graceful story, we are grateful you shared your bravery with us. Grace and peace to you.


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