My husband and I had been trying for our first child for more than six months when we finally found out we were expecting. My husband was gone for training when I found out. Five weeks into the pregnancy I started bleeding heavily and rushed to the ER. My husband was still away at training so a few of his co-workers went with me. The doctors couldn’t find a reason for the bleeding, they said I had a terrible UTI though. They did an ultrasound and couldn’t see the baby, so I was diagnosed as having a threatened miscarriage and sent home with UTI meds. The next week I had a follow up with my doctor and given another ultrasound and more UTI meds since my UTI was still there. The ultrasound was beautiful, there was my little baby, so small but still so gorgeous. My baby was alive and well, and I cried I was so happy. My husband came home two weeks later and everything was progressing great.
At nine weeks and five days we heard the heartbeat for the first time, my husband and I both started crying. We thought the worst was behind us. We moved to a different state the following week, and didn’t get to see my new doctor until week 15 of the pregnancy. At week 15 I started realizing something wasn’t quite right with my belly. It wasn’t perfectly round like all of the belly pictures I was seeing online. I brushed it off though, thinking it was just me worrying for no reason. About this time I also noticed some of what I thought was urine leaking out when I laughed and sneezed. I thought this was normal as well so I never mentioned it to my doctors. Week 21 rolled around and I was sent to a clinic to get my gender ultrasound and to make sure the baby was measuring correctly. This is only the second time I had had an ultrasound during my entire pregnancy. I had a bad feeling that day as we waited to be called back, but I still brushed it off. The instant the woman put that wand on my belly I knew something terrible had happened to my baby. I looked at the screen and started crying as she asked me questions, “How far along are you again?” “Have you been leaking anything?” There was nothing on the screen, she couldn’t make out any part of my baby. There was no amniotic fluid at all. We ran out of there as soon as we could and went straight to the hospital, where we told our doctors what had happened. They got a copy of the ultrasound a few hours later and made an appointment for me to see a perinatologist the next day.
We met the two specialist doctors the next day and had a very thourough ultrasound. The doctors had no idea what was going on. They confirmed that my baby had kidneys, and a bladder, but they did not know why I had no amniotic fluid. They then told me I would develop an infection that could kill the baby or me if I continued with the pregnancy. They then asked me if I wanted to abort it or miscarry on my own. I told them they were insane and I would try to save my baby. They said if I made it to 24 weeks they would admit me into the hospital and try to save the baby.
At 24 weeks I was admitted and there I stayed for the next 10 and a half weeks. I had daily non-stress tests and weekly ultrasounds. I was on bedrest the whole time. At week 33 we finally found out what we were having, a girl. My husband and I were so happy. We decided on a name, Ashlyn. Her midddle name was to be Nancy, after my husbands monther who passed away from colon cancer in 2001. At week 34 the docotrs thought it would be best to induce labor because her lungs were as developed as they could be. I got the steroid shots and prepared myself as best I could. At this point the doctors all thought my baby was a miracle baby, having survived this long having no infection with my water being broken for so long. We thought we were beating the odds.
On June 7th at 9:41 PM my daughter was born after only four pushes. She weighed 4 lbs 6 oz. and was 17 and 1/2 inches long. She had the cord wrapped twice around her neck but her heartbeat never showed any signs of distress, she had a strong heart. As she came out my husband said she gave this cute little grimace, as if to say, “What am I doing out here, it’s cold!” She did not cry, because she couldn’t, her lungs were very underdeveloped. I did not see her as they rushed her away to the NICU. A few hours later I was finally allowed to see her, I was wheeled up to her and all I could see of her face through the mess of tubes and wires was her little butt-chin. It was poking up as if to say, “Look at me I have daddy’s chin mommy!”
The doctor explained to us the severity of her lung development, as he spoke we looked at her and her little chest was working so hard to breathe over the venitlator. The doctor laughed and said she was a fighter and she did not want that machine to breathe for her, she wanted to do it on her own. We had to leave after that and go back to the maternity ward, they promised I could see her in the morning. After I got back into my hospital bed the nurse came in to help me use the restroom, and as I slid off the bed to get up I felt this huge gush and I looked down and I was bleeding terribly. I made it to the bathroom and it just kept getting worse. I was hemorrhaging. I felt very very dizzy as I sat there so the nurse had to call others in to help. After about ten minutes the bleeding was under control and I couldn’t believe all that actually happened. I fell asleep that night hopeful that my daughter would make it. We had come this far God wouldn’t take her now, right?
In the morning we called the NICU to see if we could see our daughter. They said yes and we walked down there. We rang the buzzer to be allowed inside and they told us we couldn’t see her. We weren’t that worried because maybe they were just busy, we thought she was ok. Fifteen minutes later the NICU doctors came to our room with terrible news. They said this morning they noticed she hadn’t wet her diaper so they tried to do a catheter on her but got nothing. So they did an ultrasound and found out why. She had no kidneys. They said there was nothing they could do for her and we had no choice but to let her go. We were speechless. We had no idea she had no kidneys. The doctors pointed them out on every weekly ultrasound, how could they all of a sudden not be there? We went up to the NICU and had her baptized. They removed her from her vent and pumped her manually for a minute in my arms so I could hold her alive. As they removed the pump from her mouth I heard her make one small gurgle, that was it. She was so beautiful. I had waited so long to see her and I couldn’t believe how gorgeous she was. She felt so wonderful in my arms, so heavy and perfect. She had my round nose, her daddy’s dimpled chin and stern forhead. She had my ears, and her hands were so huge, just like her mommy and daddy’s. I held her for a while, then gave her to my husband. We took tons of pictures of her, we couldn’t get enough. I held her again one more time before the nurse asked me for her, she needed a sample of her blood to do some tests with. I kissed her goodbye on her forehead and daddy did as well. We miss her everyday and I wish things had turned out differently. It turns out what we were looking at on her ultrasound was not her kidneys, it was her adrenal glands. She had fooled all of her doctors. The two specialist doctors that had taken care of Ashlyn and me the whole time in the hospital came by and talked to us about it. They said they were completely fooled by her, they thought she did have kidneys and felt so bad that they didn’t catch it earlier. After the autopsy it was determined she had a form of Potter’s Syndrome. Bilateral Renal Agenesis. Thanks for listening to my story.