My daughter was diagnosed with several congenital anomalies that deemed her “incompatible with life” back in 2010. I was told to terminate my unborn baby. The weight of her conditions was kept between my midwives, doctors, my husband, our parents, and myself. I was not comfortable talking about the condition she was in while I carried her with anyone outside of our bubble.
Once she was born and after she passed, I was ready to share her sweet precious life with the world. I sat down at my Dad’s computer a couple days after her short life in the hospital and typed out every detail and posted it to an old blog I had. It was cathartic and special to share her story in this way.
I’ve updated that old blog post and shared it here as a way to help others going through similar circumstances. It is my prayer that it gives you peace, comfort, and hope after reading.
The Joy In Suffering
This is a blog post I have been pondering for a few months. Many of you know that something happened to our baby girl but don’t know what. I’m going to start from before the beginning of her life…
Bobby and I had a stillborn son, Enoch Lynn Pope back in April 2009. We had a perfect pregnancy with no complications so when his heart stopped beating it was a complete shock. We had several tests ran to figure out the cause, but found nothing. He was completely normal. He was a gift to us and we will always treasure our time with him.
We were going to name him after Bobby, but when he died, Bobby asked if we could save the name we had for him. I was hesitant at first, but then I was told what his Grandma Pope had found… She was in the waiting room with our family reading her bible and praying. She prayed about a name saying, “Lord, I don’t know if they are thinking about changing this baby’s name, but if so what could we use?” Then it came to her as she was reading… “Enoch walked with God, but he was not because God took him.” Genesis 5:24. Once I heard that I had to change his name. Looking back on my pregnancy with him I remember never feeling comfortable calling Enoch “Bobby” or any other nickname I came up with. Now we know why 🙂
Ready for another baby
After his birth, Bobby and I decided to wait till we had his truck paid off to start having more kids. We paid his truck off in September of 2009. In May, the day before Mother’s Day, Bobby and I were at a get together with a lot of our friends. While we were there we had found out that one of them had a baby a couple of days before. For some reason that crushed me inside. I have had several friends have babies since Enoch and none of them had tugged at my emotions like this one.
I did my best to keep myself together, but on the way home I let it all out. Until that time I had never asked God why this happen to me. I felt like Hannah weeping in the house of the Lord. (1 Samuel 1) When we got home Bobby knelt down, laid his hands on my stomach and prayed that my womb would be opened again and that we would conceive that month. Once he prayed I had peace. The next day was Mother’s Day and our pastor preached about Hannah.
Hannah was one of 2 wives in the bible married to a man named Elkanah. The other wife had children, but Hannah did not. One day she wept in the house of the Lord so much people thought she was drunk. She wasn’t, she badly wanted children of her own and told God that if he would bless her a baby she would give the baby back to the Lord. Sure enough, the Lord blessed her with a child.
Being blessed with another child
Well, that was the month I became pregnant! When we found out I literally jumped for joy and laughed and laughed. Bobby’s eyes starting “sweating”… we were so happy. I knew she was a girl before we conceived her.
We decided to go with a midwife again (we used one on the first pregnancy too), but had to use a different one because our first one had moved to West Texas. We found another we were comfortable with that was close by. Everything was great every time we went for a check-up. We had even had a couple of sonograms done were we thought everything was normal.
Things took an unexpected turn
We were scheduled for a sonogram on Saturday, Oct. 9th at 22 weeks (5 1/2 months). While I was there having the ultrasound done I knew something wasn’t right. I could tell by looking at the screen without someone telling me. Once the sonogram was over my midwife took me into another room and told us that they saw some things that weren’t normal with her head and tummy. She didn’t diagnose anything though. She got in contact with a perinatologist for us so we could get a better look at what was going on.
Finally on Tuesday, Oct. 12th we had an appointment set. The bummer part about it was that it was next Wednesday on the 20th a week later. I had been kind of down about the waiting of my appointment, but that night I had a bible study to go to at my church. Every Tuesday for 10 weeks some of the ladies at our church got together and studied the book of Esther in the bible. We used a study guide by a lady named Beth Moore. During the lesson that night Beth spoke about God’s timing. She said, “When it’s the meantime, it’s God’s time.” Meaning that during the meantime (or waiting game) don’t worry, God is working on something up in heaven. That spoke to me loud and clear.
Being told we should terminate my unborn baby
So on Wednesday, Oct. 20th Bobby and I went to the perinatologist (or specialist) to look at our baby, Mary Alice. We asked that the specialist be very upfront with us about what he saw. Well, he did… He said that her abdomen didn’t form properly and that some of her organs had grown on the outside of her belly and that there might be something wrong with her heart. Then he said that she has a severe cleft lip/palate. He then said that her skull isn’t fully formed meaning that her brain is exposed. (her skull and brain is what I noticed without professionals having to tell me).
That doctor recommended we terminate the pregnancy early, because, she will not be able to live a sustainable life outside my womb. He also said that I was at risk of heart attack, stroke, etc. He wanted us to get a 2nd opinion so he got us another appointment for the next day to see another specialist.
Could our daughter have a genetic problem?
So on Thursday, Oct. 21st we went to our appointment. The specialist told us almost the same thing but said that her heart was fine and everything was fixable, except her skull and that was the key to her living outside of my womb. Also, he said I was capable of carrying her full term. He recommended us getting an MRI done to see if we could figure out more of what is going on and maybe what has caused this. Both doctors thought she had Trisomy 13 or 18. They were leaning more towards the 13 though (they are chromosome disorders). We had an amnio done (where they draw fluid from my belly and tested for chromosome problems).
We got the first results back and it said that she did NOT have Trisomy 13 or 18. All of those results came back normal. They said it will take a little longer to get the rest back.
Maybe her cord is too short?
So anyway, we had the MRI done on Mary Alice on Friday, Oct. 29th (more waiting). The MRI specialist told us more of the same and asked if we wanted to see the pictures. We denied seeing them. With every visit to the doctors, Tina my midwife came with us. We asked her if she would stay and look at the pictures and have the specialist tell her more of what she was seeing. So she did. Tina called us and told us everything. The Specialist didn’t know what to diagnose Mary Alice with, but she noticed that she had a really short umbilical cord. So in medical terms, she said that was the cause. By the looks of the MRI, it looked like her cord was only about 2 1/2 inches. (a normal cord is about 2 feet).
While we were going to all the specialists in October we were contemplating terminating the pregnancy early just so we didn’t have to deal with this any longer, but at the same time, we felt it wasn’t right for us to do that. Well, that Friday afternoon I was driving to my parent’s house as the sun was setting (beautiful) and then I came to a peace about what to do. I was to carry her as long as possible. She was safe inside of me. My reasoning to keep her as long as possible actually wasn’t because she was a human herself as much as it was, if God was going to heal her I would need to carry her. If we decided to “terminate” then we wouldn’t be giving God the chance. So no matter what the outcome was we put our trust in God.
Finding a doctor willing to deliver our daughter
During all of this, we were looking for a doctor to switch to. Some wouldn’t take on our case because of the extreme high-risk of Mary Alice. Finally, Tina found one. Dr. White. A women’s doctor based out of Terrell, Tx and also practices in Rockwall, Tx. Once again, though, more waiting… It was the beginning of November and she couldn’t see me until Dec. 1st!
Making the best of the time we had
The month of November we just enjoyed our time with her. We would anoint her with oil and pray for her ALL THE TIME 🙂 Something that the MRI specialist said was that she didn’t really have a brain, and what she did have was completely messed up. I loved how that became not true, because, she had a sleep pattern, she hiccupped, when Bobby and I would play with her by pushing on my belly she would push back and when people would talk to her she would start kicking. She also loved Christmas music and was a dancer like her mommy 😉 Bobby and I would fall asleep at night with our hands-on my belly feeling little Mary Alice move.
I had times when I would just cry and had some conversations with God saying if You are really there with me, and You really love me then I need You to show me. Sure enough, 🙂 He always showed Himself and proved His love for me. A couple of days after I asked Him that, I had my weekly bible study… The whole lesson was about God’s love for us!
Meeting my doctor
So Dec. 1st rolled around and I had my appointment with Dr. White. I love her! She said that she was going to do everything she could to get me a natural birth with my daughter. Dr. White asked if I would go see a perinatologist that she knew just to check the progress of everything and to look at her cord again. So, on Dec. 6th I went to the specialist. I saw her cord and it wasn’t only 2 1/2 inches… THANK YOU, LORD! It was short, but not that short. We couldn’t see it all, but what we saw was about 6 inches. The specialist said that it was very possible to deliver her naturally, but didn’t want me to go past 37 weeks. At this point, I was at 30 weeks.
Getting a little concerned
On Sunday, Dec. 12th, Bobby left for a week on a business trip to Duncan, OK. During that week on Wednesday, Dec. 15th I was to have a check-up with Dr. White and we would have probably had discussed a birthing plan. We never made it that far…
On Monday, Dec. 13th, I felt like taking it easy. I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions (or practice contractions) a lot. Around 4 o’clock I decide to fold some laundry and the B-H contractions started hurting a little. When I was done I went a googled the difference between practice on contractions and the real deal. Some said that having a little pain during the B-H contractions was normal. So I decided to go relax in the bath.
I felt a little nervous with Bobby being gone and all so I told my mom and she said to call my doctor or midwife to see what they thought. I called Bobby to tell him and he prayed with me and then said that I should call Tina because I would be able to get a hold of her faster than I would my doctor. (Tina and Dr. White are close so I knew if it was serious then we could get a hold of my doctor easy with Tina). I called Tina and explained to her what I was feeling and she said that it just sounds like B-H contractions. She said I could come by her office in the morning and she would check me just to give me peace of mind.
Our baby girl was on her way
On Tuesday, I went to the center and she checked me. She said, “Oh my, you are dilated to a 5.” Her husband works for the same company that Bobby does so she called her husband, Paul, and he made a couple of phone calls to get Bobby back to me. I talked to Bobby and he was on his way.
Tina made some phone calls to the hospital and to her other clients canceling the day’s appointments. I made some phone calls to my parents and Bobby’s parents and told them what was up.
From there I followed Tina to the hospital (lol yes, I drove my in labor self to the hospital). Jesus was all in this. People couldn’t tell that I was in labor. My own midwife asked me, “are you having contractions?” I said, “Yes, at this very moment.” My whole body was calm.
Labor was progressing well
When I got to the hospital they hooked me up to the machines and such. I had a quick ultrasound to see if Mary Alice was head down and she was. He also checked to see the umbilical cord. We got to see all of it! It was plenty long for me to deliver her. ( we knew that we were taking the chance of the cord rupturing at only 6 inches). I said, “Thank You, Jesus.” The nurse also checked me again and said that I was between 6-7 cm. dilated! So in about an hour, I had dilated some more! We were all waiting on Bobby to get there before I had Mary Alice. He got there a little after 2 o’clock.
It was so funny while friends and family were in the room talking to me, asking me questions. There would be moments that I wouldn’t respond because of a contraction. I would try to point at the monitor to show them that I’m “busy”. They thought I was pointing toward the door and they asked me if I wanted them to leave.” Inside I would be laughing, because, I knew they didn’t know I was having a contraction.
Dr. White decided to give me a little Pitocin to help my contractions. Mary Alice wasn’t ready to come out and so she wanted my contractions to be good and strong all over to help get Mary Alice delivered. I told her that I didn’t want the pit., but she insisted that I get a little. I caved in and let her. Before the pit. I asked for an epidural because I knew how awful Pitocin felt. They gave it to me. I think I may have had about 5 minutes of Pitocin and I knew it was time.
This was way more intense. I could feel her all the time but was so scared that I didn’t know if I would ever be able to look at my own baby girl. Since the beginning of October, at times I felt like I was in a nightmare.
So the time had come for Mary Alice to be born. When she came out Bobby held a blanket up so we didn’t see her. She came out alive! She was making noises and he said okay, that’s it I’ve got to see her. So he walked over to her under the heater and watched her. He told me that she had a seizure and he thought she was about to die. All of a sudden she started breathing normally.<—–That right there is a miracle.
Tina and her assistant Linda, and Bobby cleaned her up and wrapped her in blankets. When I saw Bobby holding her the doctors and nurses could not move fast enough on cleaning everything up. I started moving and wanting to get up, but I couldn’t. As calm as I was through the whole labor and delivery I had a breaking point. I said/yelled, “OKAY Y’ALL HURRY UP!” I had to see her. She was still alive and I didn’t know how long that was going to be. They hurried and she was in my arms.
Everyone who came got to see her alive and got to hold her if they wanted to. Bobby, Mary Alice, and I got to spend family time together alone. We were getting my phone ready to play her some Christmas music when literally Christmas Carolers came to our room. I will never forget that. I balled so hard as they sang “Joy to the World.” Bobby and I then played her some music and we sang to her.
Quality time with our daughter
A song I played for her as I carried her in my womb was “Beautiful” by MercyMe. We got to play that song with her.
She would grab my finger some and even grabbed my pocket on my hospital gown. Also, as the nurse was cleaning her feet with a wipe before she got her footprints, she jerked her feet away. It was so amazing! Her brain worked! She would cry some too. It was beautiful. I got to hold her skin to skin and she let out a cry. I had never heard any of my 2 babies cry until then. Beautiful.
SlideShow PC: Melissa F.
Time was drawing near
I knew time was getting close for her to go to heaven so I asked Bobby to ask people to leave. Bobby held her as she took her last breath. As she was about to go we were praying, “Jesus, she is all yours.” Once she left I looked at Bobby and said, “She’s completely healed now.” It was so peaceful. We didn’t break out crying. We held her long and looked at her little hands and feet. It was so silent.
We called my parents and told them that she had passed. Bobby’s parents had gone to get him something to eat so we told them when they came back. Some of Bobby’s family was still there so we let them say their goodbyes. Bobby and I held her a little longer and then we called the nurse in there to take her.
As much as it hurts to not have another child with us we are at peace. We know that she belongs in heaven and that she is not going to feel any pain or suffer. This is something we have known about for a while but decided not to tell everyone the details. We only told our parents everything. People knew to pray about Mary Alice and knew that there were concerns, but not all the details. It was hard at times when people would ask questions, but we would just tell them that we don’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want negative talk going around making things worse. We knew almost the whole time that she may not live and to know that she is okay now makes us happy.
Mary Alice Pope
Born: December 14, 2010 at 3:49p.m.
Weight: 3lbs 11oz
Length: 17 1/2 in
Died: December 14, 2010 at 8:56p.m.
She is a miracle.
Life Since Then
Since writing the original blog post back in 2010, I went on to have 6 more pregnancies. Two of them ended in early miscarriages, but I do have 3 beautiful, lively, healthy children I’m raising here on Earth. I am also currently pregnant and Lord willing, we will welcome this new baby to the family in Spring 2020.
I have also had the opportunity to share my entire story up until this point in the book, Joy In Suffering. It details from when my husband and I started dating all the way through the birth of my 2-year-old. If you are interested in knowing more about our story, you can order the book on Amazon or nearly everywhere books are sold online.
Have You Been Told You Should Terminate Your Unborn Baby?
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