On April 28th, 1992 after several months of a missing period, I found out that I was pregnant with our second child. At 10 and 1/2 weeks gestation I had a ultrasound in which the following were identified: normal amniotic fluid, fetal heartbeat and fetal activity identified, with a crown rump length of 3.5 cm. Crown rump length meaning the measurement of the top of the baby's head (crown) to the buttocks of the baby (rump). This was considered a normal ultrasound, so the pregnancy went on normally with the only difference being I had lost weight instead of gaining it, which wasn't a problem for the baby, me or the doctor.
On November 9th, 1992 I was scheduled for an ultrasound, after begging the doctor to "check on the baby" and to make sure of the exact due date and size of the baby. So on the day of the ultrasound my Mom was taking me and we had some time and since I wasn't having a baby shower this time, she had taken me shopping for a few things for the baby and then we went to the hospital for the u/s, Michael was meeting me there because at the time he worked for DeSales Heights Academy which was right next to the hospital. The technician performed the u/s pointing out everything except for the baby's head, which of course we didn't realize until later, we just assumed they knew what they were talking about and we were very young and naive back then to looking for actual problems with the baby.
But I have to say I was worried from the beginning of the pregnancy, it was like a sick feeling in your stomach when you just know something isn't right. And also I had reason to be worried. Not knowing I was actually pregnant the doctor had prescribed me pills to get my period started after two negative (blood) pregnancy tests. Then coming to find out I was actually pregnant was a surprise, my cycles were very messed up and have been since I was young. So the worry had always been there and here I was laying on a cold table with cold jelly on my abdomen and a full bladder, I was so scared and I told Mom and Michael of my fears and of course the tried to reassure me I was only being my normal worry wart of a self. But then to add to my worries after the technician performed the u/s she left the room and brought back another technician to view our sonogram, and then to add to things a x-ray was ordered. I knew a pregnant women was not to be x-rayed so I knew there was something they weren't telling us.
I had a regular OB appointment on the next day so we just assumed the doctor would tell us the results then. Michael's Grandpa and Grandma Riser took me to the doctor and Michael had come to meet me again but took a walk while I was waiting, he has never been good about sitting around. The nurse called me back and I went in to the room by myself and sat on the examining table and waited for the doctor to come in, only when he did he asked me to come to his office. So of course that scared me right away, so I sat down and he started...he explained the baby I was carrying and had carried for 8 months now had a major birth defect, which was incompatible with life. My heart jumped into my throat and I kept reassuring myself he did not know what he was talking about, there was no way this baby that had been living inside of me growing normally with a great heartbeat at every check up, moving and kicking me more than my first child Andy, had was going to die. I wouldn't let him, I would keep him inside of me forever. And that was my solution, of course I was in denial and knew I couldn't do that but I felt helpless...I was told the u/s performed at 10 and 1/2 weeks was too early to detect these findings. The baby's neural tube had failed to close at the top and left the baby to be anencephalic. After talking with the doctor, I left the room crying harder than I had in my life, I couldn't get out of there fast enough with all the other expecting Mothers waiting for their turn to see the doctor. Grandma Riser was waiting for me in the waiting room and she followed me out of the office into the hallway when Michael came and I fell into his arms, shocked and overwhelmed with guilt I tried to explain what the doctor had said to me, which was very hard since I had tried my best to ignore him. I just knew the baby we were greatly surprised with was going to leave us no sooner than he had came and I couldn't deal with it and I almost refused to deal with it. We had little Andy at home almost 2 at the time, and of course he was awaiting a baby brother or sister just as we were. I knew he would never understand Mommy going to the hospital to have a baby and not bringing one home, we didn't even understand...
My OB doctor had made us an appointment to go to Charleston, 2 hours away to another hospital to confirm the diagnosis, November 19th and since I wasn't sure if they were going to deliver the baby I packed and prepared for it just in case. All of our family was there to help us and take us to Charleston, Michael and I rode with my Mom and Michael's sister Tina drove their Mom, Ida down to be there with us, also Sr. Jane Francis whom Michael worked for at the time at DeSales Heights also went with us for support. It was a very rough trip, I couldn't keep anything down, so I was sick the whole trip, and of course that was due to nerves, I was so worried and yet trying to hold onto hope also. So we arrived at Charleston, the higher tech u/s was performed and the defect was confirmed, anencephaly, the word of doom. We were inevitably faced with the fact, our baby, which we found out that day was to be a boy, was going to die. There was nothing we cold do, I felt helpless, I couldn't help my child, what kind of Mother was I?
We arrived back in Parkersburg later that day, I spent the trip either staring out the window or trying to relax in the backseat of Mom's car, and of course crying my eyes out the whole time. We had been told that our baby boy was ready to be born so we went right to my OB doctors office to speak with him of our concerns, Michael was worried about it hurting me to carry the baby any longer and I wanted to keep him inside of me forever. The doctor told us there was no harm in me carrying the baby a bit longer, and he explained he wanted me to go into labor on my own, he thought that would be best. And if for some reason I did not go into labor on my own he would admit me on the 2nd or 3rd of December and induce labor since the baby was actually due on November 29th.
The doctor's whole reasoning turned out to be outrageous, because since then we have researched and found that anenecephalic baby's cannot trigger labor, so what was he waiting for? I believe he didn't know as much as he thought about anencephalic baby's.
On November 28th, 1992 after a very stressful 9 days, worrisome and sleepless nights, praying for the doctors to be wrong and praying for just a little time with our son, we had been out visiting my Grandpa and Grandma Parsons, we rode the city bus and also had went to get something to eat at a local hotdog shop. We were walking after eating, can't remember if we had missed the bus home or what, but we were walking and I had gotten so upset with myself I began to run up the street, I wanted to run away from myself but it didn't work, instead I caused myself to have contractions, so we called my Mom to pick us up and she took us to the hospital. I was examined and it turned out to be Braxton Hicks contractions and I wasn't dilated at all. So the nurses called my doctor and he ordered them them to keep me and try inducing labor, since I was already there, he had said.
After 16 hours of labor, I had dilated to 8/9 and then was checked and told the baby had gone back up higher into my pelvis instead of dropping, so I was taken for a c-section. I now know he wanted to stay with me longer, no one had ever heard of a baby going back higher instead of dropping down into the birth canal. So at 10:16am on November 29th, 1992, Christopher Ryan was born, the name we had chosen for our second baby boy, he was taken right away back to my labor and delivery room to meet his Daddy. I awoke right away, due to having light anesthesia, more than they had wanted to give me because I could tell what the doctor was doing during surgery so they gave me enough to put me to sleep. I asked about my baby boy as soon as I awoke and I was informed by nurses that he was in fact anencephalic and that he was with his Daddy being rocked. I couldn't wait to get back to my labor and delivery room to meet my new son, my legs shook uncontrollably and my teeth chattered as if I were frozen. I am not sure if this was due to the anesthesia or my nerves. When I was wheeled into the room on the bed I seen Michael and our new baby boy enjoying each others company. Michael brought Christopher to me and I took him, looking over him crying uncontrollably. It hurt so bad to know God was going to take him away no sooner than he had given him to us.
Christopher weighed 6 lbs. and 15 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long, he was so adorable,he had chubby cheeks and a perfect little nose and mouth. His eyes appeared much lager due to the fact he had no eyelids, but he was perfect to us, our little angel. Christopher acted as if he had known us forever, he cooed when we talked to him, he held our fingers so tight his little hand would turn white. I caressed his chubby cheeks and assured him of how much we loved him and had since we learned he was growing inside of me, and how that would never change, and of course how much we wanted to keep him, I felt I should tell him everything I felt and hope somehow he understood. Although now of course I realize he knew already everything I told him so that was more for me at the time. We also had Sr. Jane dedicate him to the Lord for us, we both thought that was the way for us to give him back to the Lord...
All of our family and friends that were at the hospital were able to visit and hold Christopher as soon as we were ready for them too, considering the circumstances, Andy was also brought to the hospital to meet his baby brother, I am not sure he knew what to think, being barely 2 years old at the time, bit I am sure he sensed the overwhelming sadness we all had.
We were able to spend 24 hours with our little angel, he returned home to God at 9:55 am on November 30th. When Michael came into the room to tell me Christopher had passed away I could tell from the look on his face without him uttering the words. I began to cry thinking I would never stop, I wanted to die and be with my son I had barely gotten to know, our hearts were broke and our new baby boy was gone from our arms but never from our hearts. Christopher had started running a fever and anencephalic baby's don't have the temperature control we have so once that happened it was out of anyone's hands except for our Lord above. We have both realized over the years that it was the best that God took him at this time and not allowed him to suffer any longer than he had, and I wouldn't ever want my baby to hurt to please my needs and that the day we had with him was a day that will live in our minds and our hearts forever and I thank God for giving us the time we had prayed for.
Christopher's story has became longer through the years since I first wrote it and I want to thank you for taking the time to read all of our personal story, we do hope and pray for whatever reason you have visited you can too find peace in reading our experience with anencephaly and more importantly the love we share for our angel Christopher.
I would advise other parents in this predicament to spend every moment you can with your angel, take tons of pictures, make hand and feet molds, try to feed your angel, and make the most memories you can in the short time you have. I have dealt with many regrets over the years, God has finally gave me peace with those, but these were a few of the things I regretted not doing with my baby while I had the chance.
Again thank you and please leave a note and let us know you were here!