Welcome to Paradise
by Sarah Grandfield-Connors
There is a short essay called “Welcome to Holland” which is meant to comfort a parent who has recently received information that their child has some type of developmental disability. The premise is that you have booked a trip to Italy, but your plane was re-routed to Holland. You miss the idea of Italy, the culture of Italy may always be a mystery with its own language and art — but Holland is stunning itself. Beautiful but different.
When we first understood that things with Beatrix may not go well someone sent me this essay. It was welcome as an affirmation of the life I was embarking on — the life I assumed included a child with Down Syndrome — because whenever there’s a problem in pregnancy, that’s the “worst” that could happen, right?
(Disclaimer here — I was excited about the possibility… there was a not so tiny part of me that was thrilled that I would be given the opportunity to mother a baby with exceptional chromosomes. I do not see a baby with Down Syndrome as a negative. It’s just the first thing that people imagine when they learn that their baby is going to be atypical.)
She Brings Joy
by Sarah Grandfield-Connors
I have had a difficult time writing something out for this project, as I am going through a low time. Even after four years, there are low times, when the sadness leaks out of you and touches everything around you. I wanted to begin with an introduction and a background to my daughter’s story. I hope to write here again, and would love to know that when I do- anyone reading will see the human being that my baby was, instead of the still images of a photograph.
Last Thursday my husband and I met with my high risk CHOP doctor to go over Hannah’s autopsy results. We had already been given a copy, but we aren’t doctors and needed to hear everything from the doctor.
We weren’t there long. The doctor took us back right away to her office and confirmed what we all expected, Hannah had Turner Syndrome. Her 45, X chromosome was completely deleted. All of her conditions/medical issues all were caused by Turner Syndrome. The severity of Hannah’s Turner Syndrome was extremely rare. My doctors actually told us that most other fatal diagnosis’ couldn’t even compare to Hannah’s fatal diagnosis. So, that fact that she only had Turner Syndrome and nothing else was a little surprising to us and the doctors.
Hannah was and still is our miracle. That fact that she lived into her 24th week is a miracle. I’m so proud to be her mommy and call her my daughter.
A fatal diagnosis is devastating for any parent. In the end when our baby dies it doesn’t matter the severity of the fatal diagnosis, if it was expected, if it was a shock, due to a fatal diagnosis, or no explanation at all. There is still a precious and innocent life that is lost. This is just my story and my journey.
This afternoon we go back to CHOP, but instead of trying to help our baby we are going to officially hear the results of our baby’s autopsy. It a strange feeling. Our baby shouldn’t have had an autopsy. She should have been growing inside me and making her arrival around Easter. But instead she passed away and an autopsy was performed.
Jason and I have a copy of the autopsy. We got it the day it was finished about two weeks ago. The only chromosomal issue is the deletion of the 45, X chromosome (Turner Syndrome) which was completely expected. It also lists in detail everything that was wrong that we were already told. I don’t want them to tell me again everything that was wrong with Hannah. I’ve heard it from doctors over and over again. Turner Syndrome is not hereditary so I don’t want to meet them for them to tell us that. But maybe it will be good for me to hear. Maybe it will give some closure on her health.
On top of it all my doctor at CHOP told me when we were there for a second opinion that I could contact her personally with any questions or concerns. So the next day I emailed her. I never heard from her again. She read the email then went behind my back and called my OB/GYN and told her about the email. I’m dealing with some forgiveness issues. This doctor had good bedside manner but lied to me. I’d rather she not offer me to contact her than for her to offer it then just ignore me. I’m asking for God’s help so I can forgive her. I’m in a much better place today than I was a week ago with it.
|© The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia