I was bragging to everybody I saw. Once we had our first sonogram picture, I carried it with me to work, church, gas station, doctor's office, grocery store...I showed EVERYBODY! I wanted the world to know I was going to be a dad!! At 18 weeks, we found out our baby was a girl!! So excited. Without hesitation, we named her Caroline Grace. Then, we called everybody to tell them! I had 18 weeks of pure bliss! My baby girl....
Then, we got the worst news I have ever received in my life:
"We are concerned about the development of your daughter's brain."
Within 24 hours of bragging to the world that we were having a baby girl, we were faced with sharing the tragic news that our baby girl would not live unless we received a miracle.
Consider this: When you ascend a mountain, you can get altitude sickness if you climb too quickly. When you scuba dive, you can get decompression sickness if you dive too quickly.
From the highest mountain peak to the deepest depths of the sea...this is the road that I traveled within that 24 hours. The human body is just not prepared for such drastic changes without feeling pain and sickness.
My heart is still broken. And will remain broken for a very long time, I'm sure. I have had chest pain, shortness of breath, and no energy. Apparently, there is a syndrome by the name of "Broken Heart." According to the Mayo Clinic, Broken Heart Syndrome occurs during times of dire stress as "a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn't pump well, while the remainder of the heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions....it's also referred to as stress cardiomyopathy, stress-induced cardiomyopathy or apical ballooning syndrome. Broken Heart Syndrome symptoms can mimic a heart attack. Common symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- An irregular heartbeat
- A generalized weakness"
On top of my emotional pain, I was also experiencing a difficult time processing the meaning of Caroline's diagnosis. For the last 5 weeks, I have suffered through the pains of "what might have been." The many thoughts that went through my head included such horrible things like the following:
-Caroline WAS going to be our first child
-Caroline WAS going to be my mom's 3rd grandchild
-I WAS going to be a proud Dad
I felt robbed. I was even ashamed. I dreaded the questions people would ask me. How do you answer the question, "do you have any children?" All of these precious moments and special memories were ripped right out from underneath me. I have been so physically burdened that breathing has even become difficult. It is as if someone is standing on my chest, collapsing my lungs, and I have to struggle to breathe in enough oxygen.
This all changed in the past two weeks (except for the broken heart bit...I've still got that).
It was as if God hit me over the head with a 2x4 and said, "Wake up!" Then, I realized:
-I AM STILL going to be a Dad...and a very PROUD Dad at that!
No matter what the outcome is of Caroline's life, she will always be my baby girl. And I will love her just the same.