Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dear Andonayia,

It's been 7 years, 11 months, 3 weeks and 4 days since I held your lifeless body in my arms, praying to a God I didn't believe in that the doctors were wrong, hoping and wishing that you would breathe, that you would somehow, some way, be alive.  Nearly 8 years have passed and the memory of that day has never gotten any easier.

I was told I couldn't have any more babies, and after having 4 miscarriages, I fully believed it to be true. The day the doctor told me that I was pregnant with you, my heart sank. Four prior pregnancies had failed, 4 precious little ones taken from me. I couldn't bear to go through another loss like that. Yet, here I was, pregnant again, despite having taken so many precautions, despite being told that I was barren and couldn't conceive again. 

I lived the first 24 weeks of my pregnancy is absolute fear. I refused to say your name out loud, I didn't want the doctors to confirm whether you were a boy or a girl. Try as I might though, I couldn't keep myself from bonding with you. I knew right away you were a girl. I don't know how I knew, but I did. I never even picked a boys name for you. You were going to be Andonayia Gabrielle, and that was all there was too it. I read you stories, all the while telling myself not to get my hopes up too much. I convinced myself that even though I probably wouldn't be able to carry you long enough, I needed to do everything that I could to be the best mom I could be for you while I carried you. So that I didn't live with that what ifs, and the whys. So that I didn't blame myself when the inevitable happened. 

I dreaded my ultrasound. I hadn't felt you kick in several days and I was sure they weren't going to find a heartbeat. Imagine my surprise when not only did they find it, but it was strong and healthy! I was 24 weeks, 2 days pregnant when the doctors gave me the all clear. I was finally able to relax, to breathe, and to say your beautiful name out loud. Seeing you on the screen, your little legs, you're arms, your heartbeat, gave me more joy than I'll ever be able to describe. 

We finally told everyone about you. I set up the nursery myself, picking every item carefully, wanting to make sure that I gave you the best possible start to life that I could. I washed all of your clothes and folded them carefully into your dresser. I hung the mobile over your crib, and I finally said your name out loud. I was going to have a beautiful baby girl, and I couldn't be more excited. 

Then the fevers started. I kept going to the doctor and I kept being told I had a kidney infection. I was put on round after round of antibiotics, but nothing was making this so called kidney infection get any better.  After a month, I was scared out of my mind. I knew this wasn't just a kidney infection. But nothing, nothing at all could have prepared me for what was really wrong. 

I had ended up back in the emergency room with yet another fever. They wanted to send me home on more antibiotics, but something pushed me to fight them. Call it mother's intuition, call it a woman knowing her own body, call it what you like, but I knew deep in my heart that something was seriously wrong. 
They ended up admitting me that night. The next morning, the doctor came in and did an ultrasound. She decided to send me for a more in depth ultrasound, telling me that you might have a birth defect. My mind fluttered to Down's Syndrome, Cerebal Palsy, etc. I knew it would be an adjustment, but I also knew you were worth it all.  Absolutely nothing could have prepared me for the news I was about to receive. 

Four long, agonizing hours after the in depth ultrasound, the Dr finally came into the room and told me that you had Anencephaly and that there was absolutely no chance of you surviving. I was 28 weeks 3 days pregnant. I was supposed to be safe. YOU were supposed to be safe. 

For the next month, I endured second, third and fourth opinions. They all came back with the same sickening, sad, horrifying news. There was absolutely no chance you would survive. I had to have multiple amnios in order to remove the extra fluid that was building up around you. My amniotic sac was so full, it was pushing my lungs up into my heart, and we were now running the risk of me not surviving either. But I couldn't let go. I couldn't bear to believe them. I thought that if I just kept holding on, if I did everything just right, then you would be ok. 

Then on September 19, 2003 my body failed me. Failed you. My water broke. Within 33 minutes, you were out. I had felt you kicking up until the time I started pushing. I tried so hard not to push baby girl. I fought back as hard as I could, but it just wasn't hard enough. At 12:33 pm, you were born. 
You weighed 3 pounds, 5 ounces and were 16 inches long. You had gorgeous black curls on the back of your head, and the biggest, brightest blue eyes I had ever seen. You had ten tiny perfect fingers and ten tiny little toes. 

You never took a single breath. 

I held your lifeless body for as long as they would let me. I cried, I prayed to a God that I didn't believe in, I begged for everyone to be wrong, I wished harder than ever that you would take a breath. Just breathe baby girl, please...... But you never did. 

I had you baptized. I guess I was thinking that just in case there really was a God, I needed to make sure that I covered all of my bases. I NEEDED to believe in a God right then and there. Without a God, I had to face the thought of your precious little body rotting away in that cold, lonely casket. Even now, when all faith in God has ceased to exist, I still struggle with that. 

As each heart wrenching year goes by, not only do I relive every brutal moment, but I can't stop myself from seeing both the beautiful little girl you would have been, but also the tiny little skeleton that your body must have become by now. 

We had a funeral for you. You wore a little red dress with white lace accents. Even though it was a preemie size, you swam in it. I taped pictures of us all in your casket so that you would never be lonely. I swaddled you in the blanket that I had made for you. The blanket was huge compared to you, and took up the rest of the space in the infant sized casket.

 It was raining the day we buried you. We played a song by Buddy Jewel called "Help Pour Out the Rain". We had dozens of pink roses that we all laid on your casket after it was lowered into the ground. We also had balloons, so many pink balloons.  There was a mylar balloon that said "It's a girl" that our friend had gotten for us. We had intended to keep the balloon as a keepsake, but the wind caught it and took it away. Your big brother just looked at me and said "It's ok Mommy, Andonayia just wanted it more than us". I was so grateful for that moment, so thankful that he understood just what I needed to hear at that moment. 

Andy girl, it's been almost 8 years. I still miss you as much today as I did the day I had to place your little body into that cold dark ground. I still think about you often. Every year, my birthday comes around, and I have the hardest time celebrating, because I know that in a mere 4 days, it will be your birthday. A day that reminds me that you'll never blow out a candle, you'll never ride a bike, you'll never go to prom or get married. My heart still breaks for you baby. 

Mommy hasn't forgotten you. I love you.