Easter of 2010 my husband Jacob and I learned we were expecting our 4th child. We were a bit surprised by this news. We had planned on having another child at some point but weren't quite expecting it to happen this soon. We have 3 other children. Our son Brighton was 5 at the time. Our daughter Lily was 3 and our youngest Lilah was just getting ready to turn 2. I had my first OB appointment at 6 weeks and the ultrasound showed a little round blob with a good heartbeat. I had ultrasounds at my 8 and 12 week appointments and everything looked good. At my next appointment at 16 weeks we heard the heartbeat on the doppler ( a strong 157) and they scheduled my level 2 ultrasound at 20 weeks.
I was a little too impatient to wait another month to find out the gender of our baby so I talked Jacob into letting me schedule a elective ultrasound for the next Monday to find out if we were getting a boy or girl. That Monday was the 5th of July and Jacob was off work due to the 4th falling on a Sunday. We took the kids to Six Flags that day and on our way home stopped at the ultrasound place to learn our baby's gender. The ultrasound tech was very nice and informed us that we were having a baby girl! She showed us her tiny toes, her strong heartbeat (151) and her spine. When we left we got 2 pictures, a potty shot and a full length shot that wasn't very good. I told Jacob " I wish we would have gotten a picture of her face."We left the appointment happy and ready to start preparing for our baby girl. Jacob had to run in the mall after our appointment and get something for work so while we were in the elevator I said to him " I really like the name Ella". "That's it" he said. "That is her name. I knew I would know it when I heard it and that's it"! So Ella she became!
The next morning at 9am I got a call from my doctor's office. They told me that someone from the elective ultrasound place had called them and said they had seen something "concerning" on my ultrasound and they wanted me to have a repeat ultrasound the next day at a bigger hospital in the city. I was worried sick! They didn't give me any idea what they thought was wrong. I called Jacob right away and he said he would take off the next day and go with me. He assured me it was probably just a mistake. The next morning we arrived at the Perinatal center and they brought us into the ultrasound room. The tech started scanning me and from what I could see the baby looked perfect. She was kicking and moving around like normal. We could see her arms and legs, her heartbeat looked good. We were trying to make small talk with the tech who seemed very serious. Jacob said something like" I told my wife that it was probably nothing to worry about". The tech looked at us and said " I am sorry but it is something much more serious than that". "See how the bones in the baby's legs are a bright white. And the baby's arms. Now look at the baby's head. There is no white. The baby has no bone in her head. And that can't be fixed." She told us that what our baby had was called Anencephaly. It was a neural tube defect that was not compatible with life. She left us alone for a few minutes to go get the doctor so he could talk to us. We were in complete shock. We both cryed.
When the doctor came in a few minutes later he told us that the baby should survive until birth. That it was my legal right to terminate if that's what I wanted to do but being that they were a Catholic hospital they could not help me with that. They said most babies with anencephaly only live for a few minutes to a few hours. The doctor and the tech were very kind and tryed to explain everything the best they could. They asked if we had any questions but we could hardly form a complete thought let alone think of any questions to ask. They gave us both a hug and told us if we needed anything or had any questions to give them a call. We wondered out of the hospital and to our car. We rode home in silence, both of us crying and not sure what to say. I was dreading going home to my mother in-law who was watching our 3 other children. The last thing I wanted to have to do was tell someone this awful news. Actually telling her wasn't as bad as I thought. Our son Brighton could tell from all the tears that something was wrong. We explained to him that our baby was very sick and that she would have to go to heaven to live with Jesus right after she is born.
My mother in-law called my father in-law and he left work and came straight over. We all just kind of sat in silence until late afternoon when they left so we could get some rest. I told a few family members and friends that day and word slowly got out. I have never felt such an outpouring of love and support. The good thoughts and prayers from people all around have definitely lifted us up and let us know how much we are loved. And how much Ella is loved. We are going to carry our girl to term or as long as she is living. We are going to enjoy every precious second she is in my belly and whatever time God gives us with her in our arms. I don't know what the next few months hold for us, how it will test our family. But I do know that this is the road God laid out for us and we are going to walk it in faith.