‘THERE’S A HEARTBEAT!’ she screamed. Next, we found ‘the bump.’ All I could feel was shock.’: Baby survives twice despite all odds, ‘he was worth every step of the way’

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“Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be a mother. So, it was no surprise that shortly after I met my now husband, Eric, we decided we wanted to start a family.

I think when couples decide to start their trying-to-conceive journey, they go into it expecting it to be a breeze – do the deed, fall pregnant, have the baby – at least we did. So, when we neared the sixth-month mark of trying with still no baby, we got concerned.

I made an appointment with my family doctor and had some blood work done. I never really had regular periods and thought maybe that was the cause of us not getting pregnant so easily. The bloodwork came back normal and my irregular periods where chalked up to stress. I wouldn’t find out until many years later that I actually have PCOS.

Courtesy of Chelsea Kujawa

At the eight-month mark, in September of 2014, we finally achieved the goal. I was pregnant! I had taken a test a few days before my missed period and was expecting to see a stark white negative. To my amazement, there was a second faint pink line! I was so shocked that I didn’t know what to do at first, so of course I texedt my best friend and told her I thought I was pregnant. After sending her the picture, she too thought I was pregnant and told me to test again the next day. I wanted to be 100 percent sure before I told Eric, so I waited until the next morning to test again.

Sure enough, the test was positive again. I wrote, ‘Hi, Dad,’ on the test cassette and gave it to him when he got home from work. He was so overjoyed when he saw that test; he just grabbed me in his arms and wouldn’t stop kissing me. It was the happiest day of our lives. We were so full of hope and so so naïve.

Courtesy of Chelsea Kujawa

The weekend after the positive pregnancy test was incredible. Eric asked me to marry him in our candle-lit living room. We spent the rest of the weekend just being young, happy, and in love. It wasn’t until about 7 weeks pregnant that I started to experience some troubles.

The day all of this started is forever etched into my mind. It was a regular day and I was using the restroom really quick before heading home after a long day of chasing my class of two year olds. I had felt fine all day, not a single cramp, just the normal thirst and nausea that accompanies early pregnancy. So, when I looked down and saw the red, I was devastated.

I immediately panicked, cried, and feared the worse. I left that day without as much as a word to my co-workers. I frantically dialed Eric on my way home to tell him what had just happened. Without hesitation, he left his job and met me at home. That was the longest drive home, I could hardly see through the tears. I remember being stuck behind someone going less than the speed limit and just yelling, wishing I was home. All I wanted was for Eric to hold me and comfort me.

I reached home and Eric met me in the driveway. We collapsed into each other and sobbed the whole night together. ‘As least it’s happening before we really get to know it, babe’ and ‘at least we know we can get pregnant in the first place’ are a few of the lies we told ourselves to try and make the situation better. But we both knew losing this baby was a big deal, no matter how far along we loved this little life. So, of course all this is happening after hours and my doctor couldn’t be reached. In my depressed state, I figured going to the ER wouldn’t do me any good seeing as I was only 7 weeks along.

That was a really long night for us, and while we waited for the morning to come, I got online and found a clinic in my area that performed early ultrasounds for women. I explained my situation to the nurse on the phone. She instructed me to come in for an early ultrasound just to confirm if I was, in fact, miscarrying. I went in there with a pessimistic mind, to prepare myself for the worse. So, you can imagine my surprise when she showed me the screen and pointed to the tiny flicker in the corner, my baby. ‘Well, must be a fighter because there he is,’ I was floored. I just burst into tears, staring at my little blinking bean in pure bliss.

Courtesy of Chelsea Kujawa

The next few weeks went by and were pretty uneventful. I had some spotting here and there, but never the bright red blood I had that first day. We were nearing the 12-week mark and I was feeling pretty confident. Then, it happened.

I woke up at 2 a.m. one morning with a stabbing pain in my pelvis. I thought maybe I had to use the bathroom. I could hardly stand to walk and instantly felt fear set in. I flip on the light and sit down. Before I can even physically do anything else, I feel it pouring out of me. Blood. Tons of it. Gushing. More than I have ever seen. Crippling pain rips through my pelvis and, at this point, I am frantically screaming for Eric. The local hospital is only 15 min away and at this far along, I figured they could try to do something for us. We went and we hoped for a miracle.

We were brought back almost immediately and we were met by a doctor. At this point I am thinking, ‘Okay, good. We’re gonna get some help for our baby. Everything is gonna be just fine. I’m not miscarrying, we just saw the heartbeat a few weeks ago. We will do blood work and listen to the heartbeat.’ Boy, was I wrong.

‘I’m sorry but there’s nothing we can do at this point. You are most likely losing your baby.’ What?! NO. How can this be happening? ‘Well, aren’t you going to do any ultrasound to see? Aren’t you going to use a Doppler and check the heartbeat? Surely, you need to check for a heartbeat before you rule it a miscarriage. You’re not even doing bloodwork???’ I was in total shock and Eric was just silent.

The doctor just sadly shook his head. ‘The heartbeat is often the last to go, so there is no use.’ Shock, all I felt was shock. I still to this day do not understand why that doctor never even attempted to check for me. To even care just a little that we were hurting and scared, and just wanted to check on our baby. Instead, this ER doctor just dismissed my husband and I without any type of emotion. ‘Check with your OB in the morning,’ was our answer and we left. Broken and in despair, terrified of what was to come.

We phoned my OB in the morning and went in right away, not even a chance to shower after the ER. I didn’t care, I just wanted to make sure my baby was okay. We arrived and were brought right back. My OB warned me that we probably won’t hear anything and were just confirming the miscarriage (I was still bleeding heavily). We understood and waited. WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP…Was that???… The nurse burst through the door, full on sobbing, ‘THERES A HEARTBEAT!’ she screamed. So much joy filled that little room as every single staff member came through to congratulate us.

Courtesy of Chelsea Kujawa

We weren’t out of the woods yet though. We needed to figure out why and where the blood was coming from and if it was going to be harmful to our little one. So, off to the first of many ultrasounds. It was at this 12-week ultrasound where we found out the cause of the bleeding was a subchronic hemorrhage. Basically, a pool of blood formed between my uterus and placenta, causing pain and heavy bleeding. That stayed with us until about 20 weeks and it finally ‘healed’ on its own. That was the least of our problems with the rest of this pregnancy though because it was also at this ultrasound that we found out he had a bump.

A small pocket of fluid had formed on our baby’s spinal cord, our baby’s ENTIRE spinal cord. They called this bump a cystic hygroma. In many cases, a cystic hygroma is an indicator of a chromosomal abnormality, and his was massive at 3mm wide. We were scared and heartbroken. The doctor didn’t seem to have a positive outlook for us. He told us that if nothing was wrong with our son, we would only have a 30% chance of him even surviving outside my womb. We were told our son would have one of many trisomy disorders including T13, T18, Noonan’s syndrome, Edward’s syndrome, and (the least scary of all those) was Down Syndrome.

We were told at that same appointment our son would not be compatible with life and he would not have any quality of life if he did survive. We were urged by that same doctor to terminate the pregnancy at the end of the appointment. He sent us home to think about it. I am not going to lie, we thought about it. We thought about ending it for our sake and for our baby’s sake. I am really glad I had the choice to terminate or not at the time. No one should be forced to birth a baby, especially when you’re faced with a deadly prognosis.

The next few weeks after this diagnosis are a blur. We were in shock and beyond depressed. I do remember one moment of weakness in my grandmother’s bathroom during a family get together. The news had just come about and only my mom knew what was going on. She could tell I wasn’t doing okay that night and ushered me to the bathroom. There, I just broke down and looked at my mom and said, ‘I can’t birth a baby just to bury it mom.’ She understood and told me how brave I was and that she would support me no matter what. I really needed that at the time.

Eric and I thought it over some more and decided we were going to give that 30% chance a chance and see what this baby would do. We decided to trust in a higher power, which we’ve never done before. We asked for prayers. We had so many people rooting for our little guy. At 16 weeks, we got the amniocentesis done, which would tell us what kind of abnormalities he would have. We also found out that he would be a boy.

Courtesy of Chelsea Kujawa

When we got the results back from the test, no one could believe it. Our baby was going to be healthy! No chromosome issues, no heart defects, no cleft palette. NOTHING. We felt so blessed. The prayers had worked and we were getting our perfect baby! The cyctic hygroma eventually dissolved by 32 weeks. The doctor said the only trace of it would be a fatter neck with excess skin for a few months after birth, until the fluid could disperse around his body. It was a true miracle that no one could really explain. We lived out the rest of our pregnancy in peace, knowing our baby was okay.

That was short-lived yet again because 2 weeks later on April 19, 2015, I would go into labor and deliver 6 weeks early on April 20, 2015. BUT, he was completely healthy when he was born, aside from not developing the skill of sucking and swallowing necessary to take a bottle.

Courtesy of Chelsea Kujawa
Courtesy of Chelsea Kujawa

He spent 2 weeks in the NICU learning how to eat and grow. If you have never spent time in the NICU, I hope you never have to. It was a long 2 weeks of back and forth visits, setbacks and triumphs, but we made it out and I am thankful for all the nurses that helped care for my baby when I wasn’t there or didn’t know how.

Courtesy of Chelsea Kujawa
Courtesy of Chelsea Kujawa

Our son is 4 now and he’s absolutely perfect in every way. He was defiantly worth every rough step of the way and for him, I’d do it all again.”

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Courtesy of Chelsea Kujawa
Courtesy of Chelsea Kujawa

This story was submitted tLove What Matters by Chelsea Kujawa, 27, of Rossford, Ohio. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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