The worst kind of deja vu

I truly can’t believe I’m about to write this again. We have devastating news regarding our current pregnancy. Last Wednesday, I had an official ultrasound and the doctor was able to confirm my fears. Our baby is going to die. Our little 9 weeker was moving and the heartbeat was strong, but we received a diagnosis of acrania/anencephaly. For those of you new to this blog, I’m a high risk OB sonographer at Duke. We’ve had three pregnancies: the first ended up as a stillbirth at 29 weeks due to limb body wall, a normal pregnancy with Lydia and this one. You can catch up and read the first blog post ever about Cora here. With this new pregnancy, I’ve known something was wrong for a while, as early as 7 weeks. I was scanning myself daily and was recording weekly videos and pictures to write future blog posts here about fetal development as seen via ultrasound, because I notice factually inaccurate information online all too often.

What is acrania/anencephaly? Acrania and anencephaly are hard to distinguish this early via ultrasound. Basically, the skull never fully develops and the brain is exposed (acrania) or the brain never develops beyond a brain stem (anencephaly). The doctor thinks our baby has acrania. Both have the same prognosis. Most of these babies, if they’re not aborted, go full term. They may be born alive and live for a few hours, even days.

We’ve been through this process with Cora, so hearing the news is completely awful but I know what to expect somewhat and how to prepare myself for whats coming. What makes a big difference this time: Lydia and Aben. I have no idea how they will deal with this, because I have no idea how we will deal with this. I believe life begins at conception and I believe this life is just as precious as Cora, Lydia and Aben’s. We are choosing life again, but I can tell you it’s not easy. We don’t just have each other to worry about, we have young kids involved. Josh and I both had those fleeting thoughts of “this would be so much easier to terminate now”. 95% of these babies are terminated and honestly, I can see why. It’s a disturbing diagnosis to comprehend. As a sonographer at a high risk OB clinic, I have seen about two or three cases in my clinic of anencephaly (only one family I’m aware of that continued the pregnancy) and none of acrania. As soon as the doctor takes them to a consult room to give them the diagnosis, there is usually screaming and wailing. There is no hope of survival in this diagnosis. There is a possibility we may be able to donate this baby’s organs (unlike Cora), but it’s on a case by case basis. If we can donate, we absolutely will. I probably will not share as many ultrasound pictures of this baby as I did with Cora, due to the fact that it’s hard to hide his/her defects.

We are not strong. We are not heroes. We are scared out of our minds, we’re hurting, we’re angry this is happening AGAIN and worried about our kids and their emotions. I believe that this baby’s life has as much value, as much dignity, as my mom had toward the end of her battle with cancer. Time left doesnt change inherent worth. Even though it doesn’t make any sense why this is happening, all we can trust is that Jesus is on His throne and God is in control. In the midst of all these raw emotions, as hard as it was when Cora died, so much GOOD came out of her legacy. We have Lydia and Aben as a result of her death. People told me that her story changed them. Her story changed us. I have to believe that God wouldn’t put us through all of this again for nothing. But even if we don’t see the good in this life, He is merciful and compassionate. He won’t leave us alone through this just like He didn’t the last time. I hope we can be transparent in our pain and in our hope in Christ and that people see the Gospel through this experience.

What can you do? You can support us in prayer and grieve with us. You can tell us “I’m so sorry, I don’t know what to say and this sucks”. Please don’t be silent. Dont be embarassed that you don’t have the words to say because no one does in times like this. When we name him/her please call the baby by their name. Please understand when we don’t hang out or join you, but please keep asking us to. Maybe we will get to the point when we are outwardly celebrating this life and we may need you to celebrate with us. Right now, we are still in shock and disbelief that this is happening again and we haven’t gotten to feel of contentment or joy in this situation. My cry to the Lord looks like Lamentations:

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

Please pray these things for and with our family:

  1. We can find ways to share the Gospel through this baby’s life.
  2. We can still find happiness, joy and humor in life.
  3. We are able to explain to Lydia and Aben when it comes time what is happening so that they can understand.
  4. I am able to work at this high risk OB clinic with grace and maybe be able to share this baby’s story, when appropriate, with patients.
  5. We are able to deal with this day by day and not worry about delivery yet (as I am already becoming anxious thinking about it).

The video below is taken by me at 8 weeks. This is the earliest we can see fetal movement by ultrasound. Just watching this, I see a life. Maybe one that society doesn’t deem worthy, but God knit this little person in my womb. We need your support to get through this and we need your intercessions on our behalf. Please pray with us and for us.

Love you all,

Josh, Rebecca, Lydia, Aben and Shrader baby #4

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12 thoughts on “The worst kind of deja vu

  1. Rebecca, your blog would not let me comment so forgive if this is not the right way to reply. I hardly ever pull click on the social category of the email. but I did tonight and I was very shocked and sad to read your post . I’m so very sorry you and Josh are going through this when it seems like you have been through enough already! I am so so sorry and yes you are right – I do not know what to say except I believe God never leaves or forsakes his children (as you do) and I am praying that He give you and Josh and your children supernatural grace and peace in this journey and I pray you feel the prayers of your brothers and sisters in the body of Christ interceding for you on a daily basis!! Thank you for sharing ways to pray for you all specifically. Love, Sarah Harrell

    On Sun, Sep 17, 2017 at 8:10 PM, Afflictions eclipsed by glory wrote:

    > becshrader posted: “I truly can’t believe I’m about to write this again. > We have devastating news regarding our current pregnancy. Last Wednesday, I > had an official ultrasound and the doctor was able to confirm my fears. Our > baby is going to die. Our little 9 weeker was movi” >

  2. Oh Rebecca! I will be lifting your family and your little one in prayer. I have suffered 12 miscarriages, so though I have no idea what your grief is like, I understand all too well the deja-vu. Ugh. The horrific, gut wrenching grief. I am so, so sorry, and I don’t even know you. Let others surround you with support and love during this time. I know this isn’t what you wanted for “your story”, but it will surely adorn the beautiful tapestry of your life. Your baby is a precious gift – no matter how long he/she lives. I wouldn’t worry too much about your other children and how they will deal with this. My kids kept me sane during the losses – they can laugh (sometimes at very inappropriate times about things that adults wouldn’t dare haha), and sometimes their simple insight was better than any prayer book. May God bless you all.

  3. Rebecca, my heart aches knowing you and Josh are going through this again. I am so very sorry. I will continue to keep you, Josh, Lydia, and Aben in my prayers. You are strong…don’t think otherwise. In your faith. As you continue to care for your patients despite what you are going through. In your ability to share your grief so that it might just help someone else. I know that at work you do not want words, understandably so. But please know I am supporting you in spirit and sending virtual hugs. And I will be here if you need anything…all you need to do is ask.

  4. Hi Rebecca, my name is Liza Romero. Your situation was shared by a common friend of ours. I would like to get in touch with you, if you don’t mind. I was also a LBWC mom with my fourth. Upon reading your post, my heart just bursted with deep agony. I think this is my first time crying out to God for a person I personally don’t know. My mom just saw me now, and she’s asking me why I am crying. Praise the Lord for your great faith in Him.

  5. I will lift you up for healing and grace. These kinds of hurts never heal…they remain a void that only God can and will fill. That’s a promise, one I am holding onto tightly.

  6. Rebecca, this is beautifully expressed. I am so sorry that your family is going through this again. I see you in the hallways at work and I just want to give you a ginormous hug and cry with you if you need to. But I wasn’t sure if that’d be appropriate or how you’d take it. But just know that your perinatal family is here for you and praying for you. Even the ones that you might not think. And you are absolutely correct that God will give you all the strength you need to get through this. You are also correct about that little life being precious. Hang in there and know that you have SEVERAL shoulders when you need them.

  7. Rebecca, I am so sorry to hear you are going through this. I have never experienced a miscarriage because I have never been able to conceive. But I can imagine the pain and loss and suffering from not being able to do what seems (from the outside) like just a simple thing. I am happy to know that you have Lydia and Aben to keep joy in your life and will pray for their understanding. Thank you for being brave enough to share and document your story with others. Praying for God’s continued guidance in your days ahead.

  8. I’m sorry for this pain you and your whole family are going through. Looking forward to the day when all of this pain and sickness and nonsense goes away. But it is totally momentary and totally meaningful. Lost twin boys at 24 weeks with no explanation and an early miscarriage before that. It’s hard. I will so pray for you and also share this post with other women so they know how to love in hard times. To help cope with my grief I keep baby boxes and mementos of things given to me in celebration of the lives of babies I’ve lost. They are dear keepsakes now.

  9. Pingback: Meet Layla Kate | Afflictions eclipsed by glory

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