“There is something wrong with your baby’s head…”
I remember the day we learned there was something wrong with our baby. It was a Monday. We just had our 20 week ultrasound the week before. At 18 weeks, our OB did an ultrasound for Wyatt to see the baby, since he was already out of school. We were told we were having a girl. I remember the laughter that followed the Dr out of the room. He told us to wait to decorate our nursery until we had our official 20 week ultrasound. Wyatt’s face was lit up with pure excitement when the Dr handed him his very own copy of his baby ‘sister.’ We came home and of course decorated the nursery in pink. We planned a super cute and cheesy announcement photo. We wanted a girl; it was pure bliss.
My sister began to plan our baby shower. This was going to be THE baby experience, as this was going to be our last pregnancy. My friend and I were literally 3 weeks apart in our pregnancy. And she too was having a girl. We began to plan their futures together as best friends. She would do their hair and I would attempt to teach them about makeup.
At our 20 week ultrasound, the technician asked if we would like her to confirm the gender, and of course we said sure. As she swept over the baby’s legs, there was an extra body part that wasn’t supposed to be there. I immediately felt my skin begin to tingle. Surely that didn’t really mean what I knew it to mean. Little girl Cook, turned out to be little boy Cook. I tried to hide my disappointment. Josh adamantly repeated he was happy with either gender as long as the baby was healthy. Wyatt was even more excited because now he was going to have a brother. I walked out of the office shook up and a little bewildered.
I took the gender revelation very hard. In my mind, I had already planned this little girl’s future. She was an actual human being in my mind and in my heart. When I found out we were having a boy, I felt this loathing feeling towards this imposter in my womb. I felt like my little girl had just died, and this little boy was to blame. I felt like they were two completely different people, when in fact they were the same baby. But I had difficulty wrapping my head around that realization. And to make matters worse, my friends baby shower was that weekend. I thought about her opening her little girl gifts and being excited, as she should be. And I began to feel overwhelmed and emotional and began to cry. I cried because I wanted a girl. I cried because I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch her open her girlie gifts; that was supposed to be my journey. I knew I would cry at her shower. I didn’t want to become a spectacle. I didn’t want to be that friend. They had their own journey they were walking with their pregnancy. This was their first child. I didn’t want to take away from their joy. I apologized to her and headed to my mom’s house in Kansas City. The more miles I put between Wichita and myself, the lighter I felt.
While in Kansas City, I received love and support from my family. They helped me return the girl decor and replace it with boys. I returned home exhausted and unloaded my new decor into the baby’s room. I really wanted to set it all up, but there was this slight uneasy feeling. I thought, if this turns out to be a girl, I am not taking all this down again. If something goes wrong, I’m not taking this all down. So I left it unopened in the center of the room and shut the door.
Later that afternoon, my OB called. I had just crawled into bed for a little nap. My office was closed that Monday, so I was spending the day at home with my boys. I remember the first words I heard, “Your ultrasound, blah, blah, blah…” I smirked to myself, because I thought he was calling to personally apologize for the gender mishap. I thought, what a nice guy. But then he kept talking, and things started to register. “There is something on the back of your baby’s head. On the ultrasound, there is something wrong.” My heart immediately fell into my stomach. He kept talking. I couldn’t speak. The only word I could form, “Okay.”
“Encephalitis…. brain…..fluid…… hole…..”
“We need you to come in, blah.. blah… blah..”
“We recommend an amnio and a visit with a specialist tomorrow…. blah… blah.. blah..”
“Do you have any questions?”
My whole body was shaking. I knew if I spoke anything other than okay, I would totally lose it. I hung the phone up, hollered for Josh. I was shaking and started crying. We told Wyatt to go to his room. I was sitting on the side of the bed, and in between body wracking sobs I finally managed to tell Josh there was something wrong with the baby. How could this be happening? I sobbed for what seemed like hours. I curled up in a ball on the bed and just let the tears flow. Josh called his job and took the night off. We weren’t sure what this meant.
After an hour, I had calmed down. The shock had worn off, and I grabbed my laptop and did what they always tell you not to do, research. I researched every nook and cranny of the internet on encephalitis. But everything I came across made absolutely no sense. The causes for it were impossible for me. So I began to think the Dr was mistaken. After all, they had screwed up with Wyatt as a baby, and if I had continued to listen to those Dr’s back then, Wyatt would have died. I began to think, this will all be cleared up when I go in for my next ultrasound.
We went in the next day, apprehensive but in good spirits, until my OB started talking again. This time, baby Cook’s diagnosis became more clearer. We asked questions, and I cried silent tears. He was so gentle and kept positive. He took his time talking with us and we never felt rushed. We had hope. We had hope this would be minor. We had hope baby Cook would live a normal life. That this was just a blip on our radar.
Josh drove me back to my office, and as I walked in the girl at the front desk saw my tear stained face and tried asking me what was wrong. I simply shook my head at her, pierced my face and waved my hand no. My boss stepped out of the operatory room and I just lost it trying to tell him what was wrong with my baby. He hugged me and told me to go home. Our patient, overhearing our conversion, came over and gave me a deep hug and said she would pray for us.
This was just the beginning of this long road. But what I can remember to this day, was the support, encouragement and honest to goodness love that people poured into us.