The High Risk Pregnancy I Never Expected

by Dorothy Anne Dauenhauer

Finding out the gender of baby #5 was supposed to be an exciting day for us, and it was at first. When the sonographer typed on the screen “IT’S A GIRL!” I was instantly filled with awe and joy. That meant my 7 year old daughter would finally have the sister she’s been wanting for years and have an instant best friend.

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In the past whenever I was expecting I would usually have a dream about the baby. I would be holding them and just know it was either a boy or girl. With Liam my fourth child I had an instinct he was a boy, and I was right. Now with baby #5 I dreamed of pink balloons however I didn’t get my hopes up too high because I kind of expected having another boy just because we already had a name picked out and weren’t too sure about girl names.

We were very surprised and so happy on our way home from the clinic that we decided to buy a cake to celebrate.

The Call That Changed Everything

Less then 30 minutes after our appointment I got an unexpected call from my midwife Amy. She informed me that the results from our sono revealed our baby girl had some serious issues.

I was crushed, devastated and heart broken.

We knew we needed a second opinion, and Amy helped us find a doctor who dealt with high risk pregnancies.

The Diagnosis & Prognosis

According to the specialist doctor our baby had a diaphragmatic hernia, a heart defect and a cleft lip & palette.

All signs pointed to Trisomy 13 one of the rarest chromosomal abnormalities affecting less than 1 out of 10,000-12,000 babies born. It doesn’t run in either of our families and yet our baby quite possibly had an extra pair of the 13th chromosome. Which in all likelihood the worse case scenario would be lethal.

She could die in utero, be a stillborn or die shortly after birth.

It was extremely difficult to hear the news. I hadn’t cried like that in a long time. I know God doesn’t give you more than you can handle but… wow I really did not want to go through that test.

The Promise

We left discouraged, beyond sad yet somehow still hopeful. We certainly had our ups and downs, but we decided to cling to Jesus like never before. We prayed. We surrounded ourselves with people who prayed for us and believed with us for the best.

During our darkest hour and most helpless moment The Lord gave us this word:

We decided to name her Gracie Jade (meaning God’s grace & precious).

The Option

A few weeks later we never thought we’d be put in a situation where we were given the option to terminate the pregnancy. Without a doubt we knew we wanted to carry baby Gracie to term and give her a fighting chance.

No matter how long we had with her, we would cherish her life and be grateful for the time we had with her.

What About Surgery?

During this whole pregnancy we’d never been to the hospital so much in our lives. All of our other children were born at home. So we just had the normal amount of prenatal visits. But since we were a high risk pregnancy this time we would need to deliver at a level 3 hospital.

It was definitely a challenge coordinating work schedules and sitters etc… Many times we were overwhelmed having to meet with so many doctors, surgeons and neonatal specialists.

I’ve also never had to fight back so many tears during various meetings. I tried to be strong and hold back tears so much that my throat would begin to hurt. Then I’d see my darling husband tear up at our appointments and my tears could no longer be stopped. All the medical professionals we met were kind, sensitive and very understanding. It was just the thought of loosing a child was so unbearably sad.

Yet through it all we survived with God’s help and the support of our loving family, great long-time friends and new church family.

After our MRI and the fetal cell DNA blood work came back it was confirmed baby Gracie had Trisomy 13, and the only thing doctors could do now was to shift to a comfort care strategy after the birth. Meaning no surgeries, no evasive procedures, no ventilators etc… Just time with the family to hold her after delivery and for her to pass in peace.

Our Little Miracle

It’s a miracle she’s come this far already. Most babies die before term. Yet in my womb she has been growing and moving, being a blessing and sweet gift to her siblings. It makes me want to cry when I hear her brothers and sister pray for her. They love her already so much.

God’s Amazing Grace

We’ve felt God’s amazing grace like never before during this whole pregnancy. We believe this baby is first and foremost the Lord’s, and we are just the blessed parents that get the honor and privilege to care for her.

She’s our sweet baby Gracie who will forever hold a special place in all of our hearts for being the only person to bring each of us ever so close to The Lord.

5 Lessons I’ve Learned During This Crisis

  1. Life is never fair. You are either in a crisis, getting out of one or just about to go into one.
  2. God is sovereign, and He is in control. If you can trust God and allow Him to use any circumstance good or bad in your life for His glory, you will have a peace that surpasses all understanding.
  3. The Lord can do whatever He wants. He can heal, and He can reveal. He is faithful and more than able. He will never leave you. He will see you through.
  4. Pain is a privilege that changes you. It makes you better if you let it. No matter the circumstance continue to serve Him, grow to know Him more and make him known to hurting and lost people.
  5. You are never alone. In your darkest hour The Lord will provide friends, family and even complete strangers to help you along your journey.

The Real Miracle

During this season in my life there was a devotion I read that had a profound affect on me. It said something to the effect…

“I believe the power of God is displayed all around us, in the lives of exceptional people who never experience a life-changing miracle. They are not changed. They change us.”

In other words even if baby Gracie doesn’t live long and we don’t get the miracle we’ve been hoping for… Our changed lives will be the miracle. We will have more empathy, more compassion, more understanding, more love for people than ever before. That is the real miracle ~ our changed hearts.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Lura Alampay Colorado

    Yes, God still makes miracles for everyday to strengthen us believers or make others believe. Thank God for this miracle and thank you for sharing.

  • Lura Alampay Colorado

    I read a similar story like yours with the couple deciding to carry their child who lived a few hours after birth, but their faith never waver on God’s love. Yes, the Lord can do whatever He wants, because He knows best His plans for us. And we can only thank Him. You and family are blessed.

  • Thank You Lura for you support!

  • Ryan

    Thank you both for this entry. Wonderful hearing your heart and discoveries about the Lord. Love you all. Praying.

  • Amy Freeman

    We are praying for you all! Pain and difficulty are part of this life’s struggle. It is how we respond to it that makes the difference! Through our issues with building a family, I have been able to say that I am thankful for what God has done in me through it all! He is faithful as I become a more compassionate, caring, understanding woman of God. I am grateful your family is leaning on His faithfulness, love and peace during this time. You will continue to be in our prayers! Amy Freeman

  • Iamisleen LivingFaith

    Hug to you & family. May the Lord hug you during this time.

  • Connie Blum Sadowski

    Sharing your story of faith, pain, and stronger faith is soothing to me. May I be so faithful. Blessings!