704Days to go
Shaina Hakala is organizing this fundraiser.
Hi, I’m Shaina, G6P1051. That means we have been pregnant 6 times with 1 living child.
No one tells you how hard starting and completing your family could be. Like when you have endometriosis. Or rare uterine scarring, likely related to your history of severe inflammatory bowel disease flares in your 20s. Or devastating, fatal chromosomal abnormalities. Or a combination of all these and other unknown possible causes. Our journey to parenthood has been a series of soul-crushing tragedies, only ameliorated by the sweet gift of our now three year old preschooler, Finn. I’ll never forget telling him he would be a big brother, letting him see the first images of his baby brother at our first ultrasound. And I’ll never forget the time he rubbed my empty belly, many weeks later, mentioning the baby brother who we had already explained had been lost weeks before.
We experienced 3 early losses before Finn defied the odds, surpassing a deeply scarred Fallopian tube, surviving 39 weeks gestation, and making it swiftly out of the NICU for respiratory distress.
When Finn was a toddler, we experienced our fourth early miscarriage. Then came our last baby. Their numbers looked good, their heartbeat was strong at our 6 week ultrasound, and we thought we were home free. This was it, this was our family. Small but mighty, determined, and full of love and strength.
When I opened the genetic screening results on the cusp of entering our second trimester to naively peek at the sex chromosome results, I stopped dead in my tracks at Trisomy 18: Positive. As we watched him squirm about on our level 2 ultrasound two days later, I could make out all the telltale sonographic features that would confirm his fatal diagnosis of Edwards’ Syndrome, before even meeting the genetic counselor or Maternal Fetal Medicine team. His internal organs were in a sac bulging outside of his body by his belly button, his heart was failing and fluid was accumulating under his skin everywhere, he was missing a forearm, his brain was malformed, and these were just some of the abnormalities we were able to see this early – the sum result was a diagnosis that was incompatible with life. We soon learned the first “choice” we would make for our son would be the extent of his suffering before his death, just short of certain to occur in utero. If he was to defy the odds and make it to birth and then survive labor and delivery, the only choice left would be to immediately initiate hospice care to minimize his pain and anguish in his final minutes or hours. And so … We chose love, we chose mercy, and we chose peace for him – before he would develop the neuronal connections to sense his pain. And then we chose his name.
These experiences have strengthened us, taught us to cherish life and family, and tested our resolve to see our family to completion. And through it all, we are hopeful. Terrified, but hopeful.
Many of our friends and family have reached out along the way, offering support and love and any other help. As we take the next steps to complete our family, we reach out to our community to ask for help as we get started with medical intervention to realize our dream.
For those of you with the means and desire, we welcome your financial contributions, your kind words, and warm wishes.