“My name is Donielle Havens and in March 2015 my (now husband) Brad and I found out we were expecting our first baby. We were shocked and scared but incredibly happy. At our 13 week Nuchal Translucency ultrasound the tech noticed an abnormality around the baby’s neck/head area. She stepped out and called Perinatal Associates. I was instructed to go to Kettering Hospital to Dr. Annette Bombrys office as soon as I left the ultrasound. I drove frantically calling Brad and my mom, who both met me there. We met with Dr. Bombrys and were told our baby had what is called a Cystic Hygroma. Cystic Hygromas are fluid-filled sacs caused by blockages in the lymphatic system (a network of organs and tissues that help remove toxins and waste from your body). They usually form between the ninth and 16th week of pregnancy.
That day felt like it took forever. We were given so much information that it was hard to wrap our heads around it all. I had my blood taken that day for a blood test that tested the baby’s DNA for a more definite answer on the abnormality our baby had. Those next 7 days waiting on the blood test results were the absolute longest days of my life. On May 22, 2015 (My 26th Birthday) I got the phone call that our precious baby was a GIRL, but here came the bad news. She had Turner’s syndrome.Turner’s syndrome is a chromosomal condition that affects females. The most common features of Turner’s syndrome is a short stature, an early loss of ovarian function, and in some cases, kidney failure and heart failure. So at that point we were like, ‘Okay that’s not terrible, we can manage those issues as they arise.’
We had another ultrasound scheduled for that afternoon to check on the hygroma and things had unfortunately taken a turn for the worse. The hygroma had doubled in size in just 1 week, and our baby girl, who we decided to name Hadlee Mae Havens, had fetal hydrops in her lungs and her heart. At that point, due to the increased fluid in her heart and lungs, Dr. Bombrys told us this is fatal to the baby and said our sweet Hadlee would not make it very much longer — a week if that. She then proceeded to say I would have to carry Hadlee until she passed away in the womb. Once she passed, I would go into labor and delivery and be induced to deliver her. Our world stood still when those words were uttered from her mouth. How was I supposed to carry my baby girl knowing she will pass away inside me, then deliver her? We would not see her take her first breath or hear her first cry. We wouldn’t even get to see what kind of person she would grow up to be.
The next few weeks seemed like an eternity. We went every Friday to have an ultrasound to check on our girl and each week the hygroma continued to grow and the hydrops continued to get worse, but Hadlee was still fighting hard to stay with us. The doctor’s kept saying she was defying all odds, which at times gave us hope that maybe, JUST maybe, she would survive this.
On June 30, 2015, we were admitted to Southview Hospital. We were put in a room farthest away from other mom’s in active labor and the medication for induction was started. Our nurses and OB Dr. Amy Byerly were absolutely AMAZING throughout the entire process. I was in awe of how we were treated, I felt as if these doctors and nurses genuinely cared and wanted us to feel as comfortable as we could during our heartbreaking time there. I was in labor for about 11 hours, and at 12:28 a.m. July 1, 2015, at 20 weeks gestation, Hadlee was born sleeping. She weighed 13.6 oz. and was 6 ½ inches long, she was absolutely beautiful.
We spent about an hour and a half with our sweet girl before we had the nurses take her. Dr. Byerly and our nurses sat and cried with me for a good 30 minutes, it was nice to have so much support from total strangers. We were given a box of momentos, a piece of paper with her footprints and the blanket she was wrapped in. We also had the nurses take some pictures of our sweet girl to have with us forever. We decided to have Hadlee cremated; her ashes sit in our bedroom in a tiny Baby Block box. I also always wear a necklace with her ashes.
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Our journey has been the absolute hardest we know we will ever endure. We have been so blessed with the most amazing family and friends for continuing to keep Hadlee’s memory alive. One thing I have learned through this entire process is that God has a plan, it is nothing you or I did and it’s nothing that could have been prevented, (which is very hard to come to terms with). Cystic Hygromas are very common in pregnancies. 1 and 3 pregnancies are affected by cystic hygromas. One piece of good news we received was that after the amniocentesis results came back, they showed no genetic mutation, meaning when we got pregnant again this abnormality should not reoccur.
It has been 3 years since Hadlee passed and not one single day goes by where she is not on my mind. I find myself so in love with rainbows, butterflies and cardinals, with those I know she is watching over us. We now have a perfectly healthy almost 2-year-old boy, Macon Allen, and boy did Hadlee hand pick him perfectly for us. We will eventually tell him about his big sister and how she was such a fighter.
I hope Hadlee’s story helps comfort every one of you and give bereaved mommas hope that there is a rainbow after the storm and that God has a plan for everything, and though we may never know why God chose Hadlee, we are so blessed to know we have the most amazing angel looking over us each and every day!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Donielle Havens of Dayton, Ohio. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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