Here is Carrie's story. To tell her story, Carrie went through her journal and shared a few excerpts with us. Grab your tissues for this one. I've heard the story several times and I can't ever keep the tears down.
July 12, 2005
We still aren’t pregnant. We have been trying since November with no luck. Some months are really hard for me, like this one, but for the most part I try not to think about it too much. My heart aches for another baby! Taylor has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. I never knew I had the capacity to love anything the way I love her. I would love for her to have a sibling.
September 1, 2005
It has been almost a year since we started trying to get pregnant. These last two months have been especially hard for me because if I had gotten pregnant when we first started trying, we would have had the baby by now. It is hard for me to think of Taylor growing so fast without a sibling to share her special memories with.
November 30, 2005
I’m pregnant!!! It took us a year to get pregnant which was very hard for me. I’m so excited to have more kids. Taylor is so wonderful and has brought so much joy to my life. I’m due July 30, 2006.
February 4, 2006
So much has happened since the last time I wrote. We have really exciting news! We found out in January that we are having TWINS!!! I am very excited for the arrival of two new little ones. I have already bought them matching p.j.’s and little pumpkin Halloween costumes. I can’t wait to find out what they will be!
February 12, 2006
I had a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday and I was able to hear both babies’ heart beats. Taylor sat on my legs while we listened. It’s fun and reassuring to hear both babies. Did I mention I’m excited that we are having twins? We will find out on March 20th what their sexes are. That’s when our next ultrasound is scheduled. I can’t come up with girl names but if they are boys we will name them Shane and Ryan.
March 25, 2006
This has been the hardest week of my life! The joy I have felt being pregnant with twins has come to a crashing halt. I was going to try to reschedule my ultrasound so we could go to Denver for a job interview. Instead, I called my OBGYN to let them know I had some concerns. I was having contractions and was only 21 weeks pregnant. They told me to come in first thing Monday morning. So I met with the doctor and told him what was going on. The doctor wasn’t concerned with the contractions but felt that they should be checked out anyway. So he sent me for an ultrasound. I went to radiology, lay down on the bed, and got Joel on the phone. That was when we found out that our twins would be boys. We were so excited!
I stared in amazement at the babies’ tiny bodies on the screen as they moved around like crazy. I started to notice the technician was talking less and taking a long time. But still I didn’t think anything was wrong. When I was finished she asked me to wait in the waiting room while the doctor looked over the pictures. I started feeling a little nervous but the doctor had told me if there was anything wrong he would meet with me after the ultrasound. Time always passes so slowly when you’re in a waiting room. The minutes felt like hours. I waited 30 minutes. I hoped that the technician had taken a coffee break or maybe she had forgotten about me. When she came back she informed me that my doctor wanted to meet with me. The doctor did his best to explain the situation to me. They found a growth on one of the twin’s neck and there was extra amniotic fluid in the placenta. The doctor had never seen this before and didn’t know what it was. That night we decided that the baby with the growth would be Ryan and the healthy baby would be Shane.
The next day we met with the neonatal specialists at the hospital to have a more detailed look. When the technician started the ultrasound and we saw our little baby with the growth we both burst into tears. We had no idea what to expect and we certainly didn’t expect what we saw. We were expecting the growth to be pea sized, marble sized at the most. Our baby had a growth the size of his head protruding from his neck. The doctor had never seen anything like it and didn’t know what it was.
March 27, 2006
The next step was to meet with specialists at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). We were scheduled for an appointment at 7:30 Friday morning. Thursday night we dropped Taylor off with a friend. We drove an hour and a half to stay with family members that lived closer to Philadelphia. I couldn’t sleep that night.
We drove to CHOP bright and early Friday morning. Our first appointment was an MRI, and then we met with a genetic counselor. She asked us questions to see if there was a family history of birth defects. There wasn’t. We went to radiology for a fetal echocardiogram. They checked both babies’ hearts thoroughly. After lunch we walked over to the University of Pennsylvania for an ultrasound. The three-hour ultrasound was very thorough. They checked every bone and organ in their bodies. It included a 3D scan. It was horrible! Instead of the normal fetal position, Ryan’s head was forced back and I could see him crying.
We sat in a waiting room while the specialist met with each other to go over the results. We had done our research online and read all the miraculous stories of babies with growths and how they were saved. We saw pictures of these babies two years old and some older with only a scar. We were so optimistic that everything was going to be fine and they were going to save our baby.
We were brought into a small room with a round table that was oversized for the space. There was a man and a woman waiting for us. This was when my life was turned upside down. They explained to us that the growth is called a cervical teratoma. The chances of a pregnancy with a baby with a cervical teratoma were one in 75,000 and they couldn’t find any documentation of this happening in a twin pregnancy. There was talk of compromised blood flow to the brain, cardiac arrest, the tumor rupturing, weekly amniocentesis (having fluid drained), preterm labor, partial delivery operations, and bleeding to death. Everything started moving in slow motion. The risks were so high and there were so many of them. Ryan’s chances of living were almost non-existent and most of his complications became Shane’s complications and some of them even became my complications. If he bled to death I could bleed to death. If he went into cardiac arrest it could cause me to go into cardiac arrest. His tumor was already so large, so early in the pregnancy and it was growing rapidly.
They told us they would do everything they could to keep the babies and me safe but our best option was to stop Ryan’s heart. They gave us 24 hours to let them know what we would do. I left the hospital furious. I didn’t love Shane or myself more than Ryan and I wouldn’t kill my baby because he was sick. I would rather die. After phone calls from pleading family members and friends and Joel’s desperate cries, I decided I should rethink my options and outcomes. I looked at Taylor and Joel and considered what they would go through if I died.
April 13, 2006
On March 29th at 7:30 a.m. we went to St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, PA and Ryan was given an injection that stopped his heart.
I cannot even begin to describe the pain and sorrow I feel knowing that he’s gone. The fact that I had to make the choice to end his life is sickening. I feel so dead inside. I’m so grateful that Shane is still alive but I feel no joy in my pregnancy.
They started with an ultrasound and I got to see Ryan one last time. He was hardly moving and the growth was already noticeably bigger than it was four days earlier. He had stopped swallowing and the fluids were building up fast. The doctor that performed the procedure told me that it usually took ten c.c.s of potassium chloride to stop a baby’s heart. For Ryan, it only took two. At 8:00 a.m. Ryan’s heart was stopped. When it was done, Joel came in from the waiting room and laid his head on me. All we could do was cry.
May 1, 2006
Taylor still tells people that I’m having two babies and their names are Ryan and Shane Chiapelli. When I try to tell her there is only one she gets mad.
May 2, 2006
I’m having a rough morning. I am so depressed. I walk around like a zombie. The phone keeps ringing and Taylor wants to go outside to play. I can’t go outside because I might see people and I can’t see people because I can’t stop crying. When I laid Taylor down for a nap I just sat and cried. I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to stop. I cried myself to sleep. I feel a little better now but my eyes are burning from crying so much.
March 25, 2012
It’s been six years. I still can’t talk about Ryan’s death without crying. A piece of me died the day I stopped his heart and I will never be the same person I was then. I carried Shane along with Ryan’s body for the remainder of my pregnancy. I could feel Shane move on the top while the bottom of my belly was motionless. The sorrow of Ryan’s death took over. I had a hard time feeling a connection with Shane; I loved him, but felt that if he hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have had to kill Ryan. I spent the next couple of months on bed rest and in and out of the hospital. There was preterm labor, magnesium to stop the preterm labor, ambulance rides, amniocenteses and daily ultrasounds. The most painful thing after Ryan’s death was the daily ultrasounds. They would focus on Shane but I could see the line that separated Shane’s placenta from Ryan’s. At first I could see a small mound, what was left of Ryan’s little body. As the days passed it got smaller and smaller until I couldn’t see it anymore. My water broke around 2 am on June 4th, 2006. I had an emergency C-section and Shane was born two months premature.
After Shane was delivered I was brought into a small room with Joel and our parents. They brought Ryan’s body in. His was wrapped in a tiny little knit blanket. I opened the blanket and looked at his little body in the same manner all parents inspect their new baby. I studied his hands and feet, his little bottom, his arms and legs. He was the size of a Barbie but to me he was perfect. That was the first and last time I would see Ryan. We had a small burial service for him a few weeks later.
Shane was in the hospital for a month. Day after day, I watched him in his incubator as he struggled to live. I was afraid that he would die too and I would be left without either of them. Once Shane came home from the hospital I was able to fully love and connect with him. Even at a month old, he was so tiny. I could easily hold him in one hand. We had to be very careful to keep him healthy and alive the first year of his life. Shane Ryan Chiapelli is now a very happy, healthy and hilarious five-year-old boy.
I spent two years on antidepressants. There is nothing I can say to describe the pain I went through. The guilt I felt knowing that I had ended my baby’s life was unbearable. It took several years to know that I made the right choice. I can still feel the spot on my stomach where the needle entered my body. In some ways it seems like it was just yesterday, but at the same time it all feels unreal- like fragments of a disturbing dream or memories of a sad movie.
if you are interested in participating in this project, please email me at jackienorrisphoto @ gmail.com
To see more of the infertility and pregnancy loss project, click here.