I know I haven’t finished telling you about my father. We’re almost there. I figure two more posts ought to do it. But for now, I want to take a detour and talk about my daughter, the girl who gave April back to me. Her name is Morrigan.
I have always known that I wanted to be a Mom. Perhaps it’s the result of being the elder of “Irish twins”. I was 11 months old when my brother was born, and by all accounts I immediately adopted the role of Mother Hen. I also knew that I wanted two children.
I had Henry when I was 28 years old. I had Morrigan when I was 38. There were two pregnancies between. The first of those ended in miscarriage in the fifth week. The second ended in miscarriage in the thirteenth week.
Since I was over 35 years of age when I conceived Morrigan, the pregnancy was subject to more scrutiny than it would have been otherwise. My obgyn wanted me to have an amniocentesis, but because of my history of miscarriages, I refused. I was sent off to the perinatologist‘s office for a sonogram in my ninth week of pregnancy.
I will never forget that first visit. The sonographer did her thing, then told me to hang tight for a few minutes; the doctor would be in to see me shortly. He came in, introduced himself, and immediately started scrutinizing the pictures. He said, “There’s something going on with this baby’s heart,” and mine stopped for a moment.
At first the concern was that my baby might have Down Syndrome. The obgyn pressed me hard to have that amniocentesis. When I continued to refuse she told me that my risk for having a child with Down Syndrome was greater than having a miscarriage as a result of the procedure. That wasn’t a good enough reason for me. She also presented me with the option of terminating the pregnancy.
At the risk of starting a debate I’m not interested in having, I am pro-choice, but I personally did not want an abortion. T was not so sure. He had a lot of concerns about trying to raise a child with special needs, particularly in light of his own disability.
We did a lot of research. We took the time to find out what resources would be available to us in the event we did have a child with Down Syndrome. Ultimately we decided–together– that we would go forward with the pregnancy so long as there was no reason to believe it was not viable and that we could offer any child, special needs or not, with a good, strong, loving family.
Dr. Obgyn discussed termination with me two more times. I finally told her that T and I had made up our minds and were not interested in discussing it anymore. After that I was told that I would need to see Dr. Perinatologist once a week for a 3D sonogram. Man, that was a bitch, especially as my pregnancy progressed. I’ll get back to that later.
In my thirteenth week of pregnancy we had a preliminary diagnosis. I can’t remember for the life of me what the correct medical term was at that time. I can tell you that just a few weeks later we got the final diagnosis: pulmonary sequestration. (The preliminary diagnosis was almost the same EXCEPT that there is no direct blood supply. If that had been the case there would have been a chance the mass would shrivel on its own.) She did not have Down Syndrome.
If you read the pulmonary sequestration link then you know that they are generally not fatal. In Morrigan’s case, however, the mass was pushing against her heart. As a result, her heart was shoved to the right. We had to monitor her development carefully and watch for signs of heart failure. We were advised she might be stillborn.
The following months were…
I’m sorry. I’m at a loss for words. I’ll try to show you:
In addition to everything else, Morrigan was in a transverse lie. It was extremely painful for me. It also added the possibility that I might have to have a cesarean section on top of everything else (there were other reasons a c-section might be necessary as well. Fortunately I didn’t have to go through that). Lying on that flat hard table once a week for the sonogram was tortuous. (I told you I’d get back to that five paragraphs ago.)
Henry was seven when I had my second miscarriage at thirteen weeks. T and I had barely informed him he was going to be a big brother (he wanted a sibling SO BADLY). Telling him the baby died was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life. He cried and cried. Now we had to tell him that there was a chance this baby wouldn’t make it either. He was almost nine.
We knew it was important for the baby’s health to be as positive as it was possible to be. We tried. Every day, we tried.
Sometimes, we failed.
Every week the sonogram showed the same thing: no polyps around Morrigan’s heart, but it also stubbornly remained right of center. We were in limbo land for a long time.
I started getting antsy around the beginning of the third trimester. We knew we were having a girl, but we didn’t have a name for her yet. It became very important to me that we choose one. I felt a need to tie her to us in that way. Every time I tried to discuss it with the boys, however, it devolved into the two of them suggesting names like “Booger Face” and “Stinkbutt”. I don’t blame them. Humor was our armor. So… why Morrigan?
Did you read that first link, way at the top?
The Morrigan is a goddess of battle, strife, and fertility.
In addition to being battle goddesses, they are significantly associated with fate as well as birth in many cases, along with appearing before a death or to escort the deceased.
… the Washer at the Ford, another guise of the Morrigan. The Washer is usually to be found washing the clothes of men about to die in battle. In effect, she is choosing who will die.
The first gifts we give our children are the greatest ones: we give them life, and we give them a name. We named our daughter Morrigan, and in so doing we symbolically gave her a third gift: we gave her the choice to live or to die in her first battle.
She’ll be six years old on April 28th.
She made a good choice.