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Maryann Elizabeth Hartman

Maryann Elizabeth, baby with anencephaly

October 28, 2005

We found out that we were pregnant early in April 2005. My husband and I had only been married for 6 months, but were ready to start a family. We were so excited about the news that we called all of our closest friends and family the night we found out.

We had our first OB appointment at 12 weeks at the end of May. My husband was able to come to the appointment with me and we were so excited to hear our baby's heartbeat but our doctor was unable to hear the heartbeat that day. He told us to have an ultrasound done as soon as possible. He thought that maybe we were off on our dates, that my uterus was tilted downward, or that maybe I was miscarrying. He told me not to worry about it, but hearing the words miscarrying really upset me. We didnĺt think that we would be off on our dates because we were following the natural family planning method and pretty much knew when we had conceived. I kept having to tell myself that my uterus was tilted down and we couldnĺt hear the heartbeat because of this.

We had scheduled an ultrasound for the following day. Luckily my husband was able to come with me. He felt there was no need to worry. It was so exciting for us to see our baby move, and once I saw the baby move my worries vanished. I could see the arms and legs moving a lot. The ultrasound tech was explaining everything to us. She also told us the heartbeat was 160. Then the tech said she couldn't see the head very well and decided to do a vaginal ultrasound. She had turned the screen so I couldn't see very well. She had also quit talking with us which I thought was odd. I still wasn't worried because I was just beaming after seeing our child move around so much. The next thing I knew another nurse came into the room and the tech asked her to get a doctor. At that moment my heart just stopped, she then left the room for a moment. We were silent, both afraid of what to say. The tech, doctor, and other nurse came back into the room together. They all looked at the screen and within minutes said ź there is something wrong with the baby's head, you will probably need to terminate this pregnancy ╗.

We live in a small town and they were unable to state a diagnosis. They called our doctor and they had to send us to a specialist. We had the first ultrasound done on Thursday afternoon and the specialists were unable to get us an appointment until the following Tuesday because it was Memorial Day weekend. We were left with knowing that something was wrong, that people were telling us to just terminate our child and we had no idea what was really going on. The four days were long and miserable.

Once we were at the specialists we had another ultrasound done. They let us see and explained everything to us. Since I was only 12 weeks it was hard to see very much. At that time they thought that our baby had either anencephaly or encephalocele. At this point they could see that the head was misshaped and it looked like the brain was herniating out the back of the head.

Before we had even gone to see the specialists and learn what was happening with our child we had decided that we wanted to carry the baby to term. We had thought a little about terminating because that is what everyone was telling us to do. They would say, just have a few normal periods and then get pregnant again. They said this as if we would just forget all that had been going on in the last few days, like we didn't care and love this baby. Since we found out that there was nothing that would harm my health we were sure that we wanted to carry. Since they didn't know for sure the diagnosis we were still left with some unanswered questions. The baby could pass after birth, or the baby could live for awhile and be in a vegetative state and have to be kept at an institution. Both were heartbreaking for us.

We planned on another ultrasound 5 weeks later, so we could see a little more. So at 17 weeks we went back to the specialists and had another ultrasound. At that time they officially diagnosed anencephaly. So at least we knew that our child would make it to birth and pass in our arms.

The next few months were very hard on us, but we had to keep smiling and loving each moment we had with our baby. We made specific plans and had special outfits, blankets and stuffed animals for this special baby. I was diagnosed with having gestational diabetes, and then ended up having horrible headaches the last few weeks of my pregnancy. At 34 weeks my doctor decided to induce labor because my headaches were getting worse. That decision was hard on us, because we weren't really ready to say goodbye. We had almost everything planned and ready in case the child was ready to come it's own.

We went to the hospital on Friday morning at 7:30. They checked to see if I was dilated at all. I was already dilated to a 2 and 90% effaced. Knowing this news was a lot easier on us. We knew that, even though we were 6 weeks before our due date, that God was calling for our child.

At 9:30 that night our daughter Maryann was born. We knew that she could live up to a few hours, and we prayed everyday that we would get to hold her alive for one whole day. We decided not to have fetal monitors put on, because we didnĺt want to know half way through delivery that she hadn't made it. So we did not know that the cord had wrapped around her little legs in a knot until after she was born. This was hard on us, because we so badly wanted to hold her alive, maybe hear her cry, see her smile. We did not get the time alive, but we did get time with our daughter. I dressed her in her special outfit with matching hat and wrapped her in a special blanket. We let our family and friends hold her while we took tons of pictures. We also got her foot and hand prints. She was a tiny little thing at 2 pounds 9 ounces and 14 inches long. She looked just like mommy and daddy.

I was able to sleep with her in my arms all night long. That time I will treasure, and will never forget. We miss her a lot but we are at peace with the fact that we gave our little girl life, and we do not regret our decision. If we had not carried her we would not have all of the memories and pictures. We wouldn't have been able to see her little body, hold her hand and see her special features.

We know that Maryann is in God's arms and is safe, looking down on us always.

 

Update:
Annette and Rick are happy to announce the arrival of their son Ricky. He was born on May 8th, 2008 and is very healthy!!

 

Last updated 05 March, 2009