woman walking into sunset on a roadWhile racing home the words Amber said to me on the phone kept repeating over and over in my mind, Phrases like: “the baby won’t survive’ “it’s got a condition that won’t let it live outside the womb’ “we have to decide what we are going to do’

I flew home as fast as I could and was throwing underwear, clothes and random toiletries into a bag while both Amber and her sister Kelly were on the phone with QANTAS trying to get me a seat on a full plane to Perth that night. After a lot of yelling down the phone on Kelly’s part, I managed to get a seat. This meant I had to be at the airport in less than an hour.

Kelly drove me to the airport and we had found out that Amber’s other sister Nicole was also having to fly down to Perth that night accompanying someone on a Royal Flying Doctor flight. We all met at the Paraburdoo airport shaken, confused and upset. I had enough time to check in and give both of my sisters in law a big cuddle (while all trying to hold back tears) before jumping onto the plane and finally having 5 minutes to myself to process everything that had happened in such a short time.

While I was on the plane to Perth, Amber rang ‘P’ our donor to let him know the news. He was upset and wanted to make sure she was ok, the rest of the phone call is a blur to Amber.

I remember sitting on the plane wondering why it was so hard to get a seat on the flight? It was a full flight minus the two seats next to me. I was thankful for having a little bit of privacy and remember watching the sunset as we took off. I was scared, beyond scared! What was in store for Amber and I when I got down there? I cried silently (or I hope it was) for most of the flight. I was met with some quizzical looks from the flight attendants but they left me alone and gave me an odd smile here and there.

After what felt like a lifetime, I finally arrived in Perth. I was greeted at the airport by Amber and my sister Anna.

After a hug from each of them, my sister looked at my head and said ‘I forgot you shaved your hair!’ I had shaved my hair 2 months earlier to raise money for the leukemia foundation, That comment made me smile for the first time since that earlier phone call.

So much of the next week is a big fat blur, I will try to remember as much as possible. I do remember when we got back to my sister’s house, Amber and I headed to bed, completely emotionally drained. We talked a little bit about the baby and the condition was called Anencephaly. It was a form of spina bifida that affected the skull and the brain.

We had talked about names throughout the pregnancy and one name that I couldn’t stand was Nevaeh, It just sounded too girly and I prefered plenty of other names. It was that night that while laying there in silence that I thought what a perfect name for our little baby who would be going to heaven. (Nevaeh is Heaven backwards) We weren’t sure if the baby was a girl or boy, but we thought it was a beautiful name with a lovely meaning and we would ask the doctor the following day if they would be able to tell the sex of the baby.

We had an appointment with Professor Jan Dickinson the next day to talk about what was going on and what we needed to do next. Dr Dickinson explained to us the next day that the baby had a zero chance of survival out of the womb and the decision we made next would be the hardest decision we would ever make.

We had the choice to continue on with the pregnancy or to terminate as soon as possible. The pregnancy could naturally end at any time or the baby could survive full term, however as soon as the baby was born it would not be able to breathe on its own and the longest surviving child born with Anencephaly was only around ten days.

We made the decision there and then that the best decision for us and the baby would be to terminate the pregnancy. It was a horrible decision and left me and I am sure Amber is feeling physically sick! The Dr informed us that the next available appointment for a dilation and curettage (D & C) was in six days. Meaning we had to wait exactly a week after finding out the news.

We asked the doctor questions asking why would this occur and was there anything we did wrong? We also asked if there was any way that during the procedure they could find out the sex of the baby or was it too early to tell? The Dr had said that it would be too early to tell the sex of the baby but it was likely to be a girl as they were more affected by this condition. Anencephaly can at the earliest only be picked up at a 12-week scan. Also there was nothing we could have done and it usually meant we needed more folate – 10x the dose of an average person.

After leaving King Edward hospital feeling like we had been kicked in the guts by the entire world we went out looking for somewhere to get a tattoo for the baby. We had briefly talked about tattoos on the way to the hospital. Amber had decided she wanted to get the name Nevaeh with angel wings and I had decided after seeing a rainbow that morning that I would like a rainbow with our baby’s name underneath. We went into a tattoo shop in Fremantle and were booked in straight away.

We were both so emotional through the tattoo that I am sure the guy doing it thought we were very strange or just being girly about going through the pain of a tattoo.

Over the next couple of days, we went from Anna’s house down to Amber’s parent’s house in Mandurah. Nicole was also staying there as she was still down from Tom Price. Both of our families were being very supportive throughout the week – we were lucky to be surrounded by both of our families.

It was so hard during that whole week trying to distance ourselves from knowing there was still a baby growing inside Amber’s belly. Amber had even said she thought she had felt the baby moving, it had felt like bubbles in her tummy. Even though she was only at the 13-14 week mark she had even started showing. She spent the rest of the week trying to hide the beginnings of a baby belly.

Nicole had said she would be happy to drive us to the hospital and had even said she would stay the entire day to support us. I was glad to have someone who could support not only Amber but also myself. I didn’t know if I would cope the entire day alone – especially when Amber went into surgery.

The night before, we took one last photo of Amber’s belly as a final reminder of our angel and the 14 weeks we had enjoyed thinking we were going to be parents.
We had to leave so early in the morning as we were leaving from Mandurah. Amber and I silently got dressed feeling sick and still so drained emotionally. I remember the drive there, it was so busy even though it was early. It took quite a while to get there and I remember texting my brother-in-law as it was his birthday that day.

The three of us made our way to the day surgery section of the hospital once we arrived, Amber was filling out paperwork and I still felt just so numb.

I almost still couldn’t believe it. Why was this happening to us? Would we be okay after this? I can only imagine how Amber was feeling. Knowing that by the end of the day she would not be pregnant anymore.

I was told that only one person would be able to go in at a time with Amber and that for the moment she would need to go in by herself. She walked through the door and I think that was the first time I really cried that day. Nicole was there for me and gave me a hug, which made me cry even more!

I had to wait about fifteen minutes until I was allowed into where Amber was, she was on a bed in her gown ready for surgery and surrounded by a range of other people in hospital for the day for numerous reasons. I didn’t know how I would cope with seeing her in pain, I didn’t know if I could cope with this life-changing moment.