For the most part, I had an uneventful pregnancy with Ezekiel. I did the exact opposite of what I did during my pregnancy with my daughter. I ate well, I exercised, I wasn’t as stressed, and I didn’t travel as much except for the occasional San Francisco and two week long international work trips. While my weight gain wasn’t to my OB/GYN’s liking (I gained a whopping 20 pounds during my 19th week appointment), I could care less since I gained about 45 pounds with Olivia. The back pain I felt was similar to what I felt with my daughter.
In my mind, all was fine.
But there were the scares. The big scares that gnawed away at me. Since I was 34 years old but would be delivering at the age of 35, my OB/GYN classified me, in my mind, as a geriatric patient. I’m being sarcastic but it seemed like it. She strongly urged me to complete the nuchal translucency test. I had opted out of this test with my daughter. I agreed with her suggestion and assumed all would be fine. So I made the hike up to the Upper East Side and completed the nuchal translucency test and even opted for the additional Verifi blood testing with the added bonus of identifying the sex of the baby.
During my appointment in February, my results showed increased risk for Trisomy 13 and Trisomy 18.
“Everything is probably fine. This is probably because of your increased age,” my doctor explained to me. She gave me a referral and recommended that I complete further blood testing.
“But I did the blood draw, the Verifi one,” I noted.
“No. I don’t have the results here. Just go back to Lenox Hill and get a blood draw and go see the genetic counselor,” she replied.
I nodded my head and half smiled. I left her office in a daze. Her Long Island City office is within the building of my apartment, a mere 10 steps away from our front door. When I walked out of the elevator and reached the floor of our apartment, I began to feel woozy and faint. I was scared but it was also almost time to pick up my daughter. I sat down and paused in prayer. I prayed desperately for a happy and healthy baby. I told God I was scared and anxious.
I immediately made an appointment and was able to be seen later that week by the genetic counselor. Anxious, I said multiple Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s and patiently waited for my name to be called.
Once the geneteic counselor called me into her office, she began to ask multiple questions and drew our family tree. Any history of birth defects in your family? Any chance you and your husband could be related? Any history of stillbirths? My reply to every question was no. And, gross, no, we are not related.
“Okay, I’m going to give you a tube and you’re going to go across the street…”
“…cross Lexington and then it’s the office on the right?” I replied. “I took the blood test already.”
“Oh, you did?” she said puzzled.
“Yes, when I completed the nuchal translucency test.”
She proceeded to look into her computer and found the results. She apologized and noted the results were kept in another database that had just populated earlier that week. This explained why my OB had not received them yet.
“Do you want to know the sex?” she asked.
“Yes!” But then I paused sheepishly and laughed and said, “Well, I should wait for my husband.”
She printed off the paper and wrote in large letters, “XX for girl, XY for boy”. I clutched the paper to my chest. Knowing full well the subway would be the most cost-effective way to get back to Queens, I left her office excitedly and prayed repeatedly, “Thank you, Lord, for a normal, happy, healthy baby!” Tears of joy crept to the corners of my eyes. But today would not be for crying, there was too much excitement and happiness in my heart.
Not knowing the duration of the appointment, I had asked my husband to pick up daughter and bring her back to his office. Excitedly, I grabbed an Uber to make the long commute to his office. That $60 ride was worth every penny to complete the gender reveal together.
As I arrived at his office, I was grinning from ear to ear clutching the envelope. I ran excitedly to his office and we opened the envelope and scanned the paper anxiously.
“It’s a boy!” we read aloud excitedly. In the midst of the excitement of calling our parents and friends, I prayed over and over, “Dear Lord, Thank you for this precious gift, a baby boy to join our family. We are so blessed, so thankful, so elated.” On that day, I felt overwhelmed with such joy. As we lay in bed (yes, we all still sleep together), I marveled at my beautiful daughter, handsome husband, handsome dog, and handsome, growing baby boy in my belly.
As I reflect back on this experience, I am filled with a deep longing and sadness for my son. I think back to the hopes and dreams I had for him and our family. I think back to the beginning of our car seat search in February. I recall reading all of the big sister books to my daughter. I think back to envisioning little Zeke participate in various sports camps like basketball and soccer. I think back to the visions I had spending my summer evenings walking with him in his stroller with my daughter and dog by my side. Nobody should ever have to experience the loss of their own flesh and blood. I pray that no one ever has to watch their child take their last breath while lying on your chest. But while the loss draws near to my heart and vivid memories of his passing frequently cross my mind, I am filled with a peace that transcends all understanding. I long for the day that my family can be reunited with my son in Heaven. A deep desire fills my heart to strive to be a good person so that Zeke can be there, opening the big gates for us in Heaven. The thought of this brings me so much joy. I don’t understand why Zeke was taken away from us. I don’t know why our families have to endure so much pain. But I know for a fact that my son is in Heaven and I know for a fact that there is a divine purpose for why my family has endured this pain.
God, I know you have a great plan for our family. We continue to put our ultimate trust and faith in you that you will carry us through this valley of mourning. Fill us with your goodness and light. Amen.