Mom shares story of loss hoping to reach others

Sarah was about four months pregnant when she received news no mother ever wants to hear.

She was told her baby had triploidy and would not survive.

“She had an underdeveloped brain, underdeveloped kidneys, underdeveloped heart. I don’t think she had a spleen. It was pretty heart-wrenching when I found that out,” said Sarah, a Hinsdale resident who asked that I not use her last name.

She had two choices: Wait for her baby to die and deliver her stillborn or terminate the pregnancy. Based on the advice of her doctor, Sarah and her husband chose the latter.

“They said probably the safest thing for me as a mom was to have a D&E,” she said. “I was just kind of wrecked about it because I did not want to do that. At the same time, I couldn’t get out of bed and I was so sad and I couldn’t wait for the inevitable to happen. I didn’t think I could deliver her. I didn’t have that in me.”

So on Dec. 5, the pregnancy was terminated through a procedure known as dilation and evacuation.

“We had an abortion. I don’t know how else to say it. With my Catholic upbringing, I can’t even believe I’m saying these words,” Sarah said.

The loss was even more painful because she and her husband had been trying for years to have a third child. Their daughters were 4 and 5 at the time.

“They’re both healthy and wonderful and I’m so blessed,” she said. “My husband I are both one of three and we really wanted three. We just tried really hard and I had a few miscarriages, but they were all pretty early, before 10 weeks, before 12 weeks, so we didn’t tell anyone.”

There had been minor issues early in the pregnancy, Sarah said. Her hormone levels were low and the baby was small at the 16-week ultrasound. Another ultrasound 2 1/2 weeks later confirmed something was wrong with the baby’s growth and organs, and results of an amniocentesis clearly indicated the baby had complete triploidy.

Triploidy is a rare chromosomal abnormality that affects 1 to 3 percent of pregnancies. It is the presence of an additional set of chromosomes in the cell for a total of 69 rather than the normal 46. Triploidy usually causes a miscarriage early in pregnancy. Infants born with triploidy usually die within days or months of birth.

“We wanted her. We created her. We named her,” Sarah said. “She is in our bedroom. It is not a decision I took lightly. I don’t feel any guilt about it. I feel complete sadness that she is not here.”

Sarah said she and her husband don’t know why this pregnancy didn’t result in a miscarriage.

“I still don’t understand why she hung around,” Sarah said of her daughter, whom she named Hope. “I don’t know what lesson it was to teach me.

“I have not been able to find a lesson in this,” she to me later in our conversation. “I have not been able to find a why. When I emailed you, I thought maybe it’s to share my story.”

Sarah described the days after her procedure as lonely and said she was hesitant to talk about what happened.

She’d like for women to be able to find support and compassion during challenging times like this, and she hopes sharing her story will help.

So many conversations about difficult topics like this are based on statistics and generalizations and assumptions. I hope sharing Sarah’s story serves as a reminder that people’s lives and their circumstances are unique. I hope it encourages all of us to listen to more of these stories.

— Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean