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Abigail Rose

Created by Kris Shaughnessy

Abigail Rose

I will never forget the day of my 20-week ultrasound. Matt and I had two healthy daughters so we never dreamed that something would be wrong with this baby. We found out we were having another girl and were thrilled, only to be told moments later that they thought she had Trisomy 18 and that it was ‘incompatible with life.’ Looking back even at very early ultrasounds she had been behind in growth but the doctor had not been concerned saying it was common, that healthy babies measure slightly different than they should according to the dates. Now this ultrasound was showing several markers such as; choroid plexus cysts, small gestational size, multiple heart defects, 2 vessel umbilical cord, clenched fists, overlapping fingers, and a possible extra digit. We were devastated and shocked.

The doctor was recommending that we have an amnio to be sure and we agreed not wanting to have to wait until her birth to find out if she did have a fatal prognosis. We honestly didn’t think it would come back positive, we just couldn’t believe that something like this could happen. When we received the news our world turned upside down but we vowed not to let it destroy us or our family. We named our third daughter Abigail Rose and we started to plan, pray and wait.

We were very honest with our daughters and family about everything from the beginning. We were careful to try to include our other daughters, Shannon and Shelby as much as we could in the planning and preparation for Abigail’s birth. Matt and I made the decision to carry Abigail to term because we could not choose the day our baby died. We felt we needed to leave it up to God and let him make that decision.

Shortly after making our decision, we wanted everyone to know how were coping, so we wrote a letter to send to friends and family:
“Matt and I need the support of our family and friends more than ever as we begin this journey in our lives. We do not know what the future holds for us and for our unborn baby girl but we have decided to continue on and see what Gods plans are. We have learned a lot about trisomy 18 in these past few weeks and are always willing to answer any questions you may have.

“The bottom line is that God may well take our baby before she is born. If she is born alive she will have numerous problems, we will find out the specifics of these problems as the pregnancy progresses. She will not be perfect but then again none of us are and we will accept her faults and make her life as comfortable as possible no matter how short that life may be.

“This experience has made us better stronger people and we hope that it will make everyone around us appreciate life just a little more. Thanks again for your continued support and prayers.”

Aside from the T18, I had an uncomplicated pregnancy. We had written a birth plan and reviewed it with the hospital. In our plan, we chose comfort care, because we knew the condition of her heart was fatal on its own and if we did get to see her alive we did not want her hooked up to machines that were only going to prolong the inevitable. We wanted to make sure she was as comfortable as possible for as long as we had her.

My due date came and went. The doctor told us that they would induce when we were ready. I really wanted to go into labor on my own because I felt that if I were induced I would probably be choosing the day our daughter died. But when my due date came and went without any signs of labor I felt I could not take the uncertainty anymore, and we chose to induce on June 5th, 2 days after my due date. Because I was induced with both my other girls because I was overdue I knew that there was a good chance I would have to be induced this time also. I was scheduled to arrive at the hospital at 5:15 a.m. but my water broke at 1:00 a.m. so I went into labor on my own. I am so thankful that my water broke at home only 4 hours before I was scheduled to be induced.

We went to the hospital and Abigail was delivered at 5:47 a.m. on June 5, 2003. She weighed 5 pounds and was 19 inches long. She was breech and her heartbeat was going down with every contraction so we decided not to monitor it anymore. We believe Abigail passed away about 30 minutes before she was born.

The time we had with Abigail Rose was wonderful. One of the most special things about that time was seeing all three of our girls together. When Shannon and Shelby first came to see Abigail they wanted to hold her, touch her, kiss her and look at her. They did not care that she was not alive. She was their sister and that was all that mattered to them. I am very thankful that we gave them that opportunity to meet and love their sister.

At Abigail’s funeral, Matt and I included the following message:
“We want to thank you all for all of your continued support through this ongoing journey in our lives. We conceived and gave birth to an angel and feel very privileged to have had such an enlightening experience. Abigail Rose is now and has always been God’s child. She was only placed in our arms a short time to teach us all the lessons of a lifetime. On her short time here on earth she taught us, unconditional love, she showed us courage and strength and finally, she showed us how to surrender to the inevitable. Abigail was not a mistake by God; rather she was a gift from him. A gift that we can all celebrate. A gift that we should all cherish.”

Through this experience, I am very thankful for many things. I am extremely thankful that everything happened on its own and because of that, we have absolutely no regrets. I believe that God was watching out for us. I am also thankful that at the ‘young’ age of 34 I know how precious life is. Most people do not learn this life altering lesson until much later in life. Matt and I no longer take anything for granted; we value life so much more than we did before we were blessed with Abigail. I have a greater respect for the true miracle of pregnancy and birth with a healthy child as the ultimate gift.

I am also extremely thankful that I found support from the Trisomy Foundation. I think that is the one reason I still have my sanity. I was able to research and talk to others that were going through and have been through the same thing as me. I found a due date buddy and we talked on the phone regularly so I did not feel alone. I found that no one wanted to talk about my pregnancy and the baby I was carrying and that was all that I wanted to talk about. The Foundation was where I could talk openly with people who understood.

We are a stronger, closer family than we were before we had Abigail. She will always be a positive part of our family.

When Matt and I first found out that Abigail had Trisomy 18 we were devastated but we chose not to let it destroy us. When tragedy strikes you can let it make you or break you. We vowed that this was not going to destroy us. We tried to find something positive in the experience. I am not saying that those 20 weeks and 2 days carrying Abigail knowing the prognosis was easy; it wasn’t. It was the hardest time in our lives and I never want to go through something like this again…but the lessons we learned because of it have changed our lives for the better in so many ways.”

After Abigail we were blessed to have two more healthy babies so our family is complete with our four daughters with us on Earth and our daughter in Heaven.

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