By Alaina Hiatt
I hadn’t been back to work since my 20-week ultrasound—I couldn’t stand having people ask me how my pregnancy was going when I had no idea!
When I returned to work the following morning, I was struggling just to be there. Shortly after 8am, the phone rang and it was the high-risk doctor. He told me good morning and then he said he had the preliminary results from the amnio and our baby had Trisomy 18, which was completely incompatible with life.
He told me that at 21 weeks, we could still terminate the pregnancy under Ohio law. I told him again that I wouldn’t consider termination and that we would see him at our next appointment.
At our next appointment, after I had been able to do my own research on Trisomy 18, we asked the doctor if he knew from the amnio results the sex of our baby. I suspected on my own that it was a girl, as Trisomy 18 occurs 4 out of 5 times in girls, and the doctor was able to confirm that for us.
We struggled with what would be the best name for our precious daughter—to that point my husband and I had not been able to agree on any girl’s name. We finally decided on Hope Elizabeth Hiatt.
“Hope” because it seemed to sum our whole pregnancy up in a single word, and “Elizabeth” because it means consecrated to God. We knew that our daughter had been in the Lord’s hand since conception and we took comfort in the fact that he was in control.
Each appointment with the high-risk doctor was the same—he’d listen to the Doppler and say it made no sense that our baby was still alive—when we asked what would happen in the months to come, he told us that our baby would die without our knowledge of it and that a few days later I’d go into labor and deliver a stillborn baby. He always said it would be before my next appointment, unless we wanted to terminate, as we still had time.
I couldn’t stand the idea that my daughter would just pass away without my knowledge, so a dear family friend arranged for me to get a Doppler from her daughter so we could tape record Hope’s heartbeat and listen to it ourselves.
On Saturday, July 12, 2003, we met at our friend’s home so we could be shown how to use the Doppler. Unfortunately, her daughter, a midwife, couldn’t find a heartbeat and told us that we needed to go to the hospital to have an ultrasound to confirm that our daughter had passed away.
As we drove to the hospital, we called ahead and after the midwife relayed our situation to the doctor, we were told that the doctor on call didn’t want us to come in—just wait until first thing Monday, and schedule an appointment with your regular physician.
My husband and I had been more than willing our entire pregnancy to fight for our daughter, but if she had passed away, the situation became about my health and we were not going to spend the weekend wondering if she had passed away or not.
When we arrived at the hospital, we were seen in triage by a few nurses, who found no heartbeat with a monitor and brought the doctor in.
The doctor calmly performed an ultrasound, blithely telling us that “See, there’s the heart, and it’s not beating.” He put the wand away and told us again to wait until first thing Monday and call the doctor’s office.
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