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Abigail Rose Shaughnessy

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Total Number of Gifts: 5
Total Value of Gifts: $3,653.00

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The Pregnancy

I will never forget the day of my 20 week ultrasound. My husband Matt had to work so I had my mom and my two daughters, who were 2 and 4 at the time, come to the ultrasound with me. The technician seemed unusually quiet during the ultrasound but I did not think anything of it at the time. When she told me that we were having another girl I was ecstatic. She never gave me any indication that anything was wrong. While we waited to see the doctor I called Matt from the waiting room to tell him we were having another girl.

After calling Matt with the initial good news, me, my mom, and our two daughters Shannon and Shelby, went in to talk with the doctor. It was then that the doctor told us what the technician had seen and said that he thought it was possible that she had Trisomy 18 and that it was incompatible with life.

The markers they found were choroid plexus cysts, small gestational size, multiple heart defects, 2 vessel umbilical cord, clenched fists, overlapping fingers, and a possible extra digit.

Matt and I had chosen not to have the AFP test with any of our pregnancies because we felt it was unreliable, so we didn’t have that information to go on. Although even at very early ultrasounds she had been behind in growth, the doctor had not been concerned since it was common that healthy babies measure slightly different than they should according to the dates.

He suggested we get an amnio as soon as possible. I don’t know how I made it back to the car. The girls realized that something was wrong so they did not say a word. On the drive back home I made that awful, second call to Matt to tell him that our daughter may have something called Trisomy 18 and the doctor was recommending that we have an amnio to be sure.

We were very honest with our daughters and family about everything from the beginning. We were careful to try to include Shannon and Shelby as much as we could in the planning and preparation for Abigail’s birth. When we got the call that Abigail did have Trisomy 18 we made the decision to carry her to term. We are Catholic and Catholics do not commend termination but if I had felt that termination was the best thing for us to do I would have done it regardless of my faith. The reason we did not terminate is because we could not choose the day our baby died. We felt we needed to leave it up to God and let him make that decision.

After we found out we did not want people to feel sorry for us. We wanted them to know that we were handling the situation. I typed out this letter and mailed it to our family and friends;

“Matt and I need the support of our family and friends more then ever as we begin this journey in our lives. We do not know what the future holds for us and for our unborn baby girl but we have decided to continue on and see what Gods plans are. We have learned a lot about trisomy 18 in these past few weeks and are always willing to answer any questions you may have.

“The bottom line is that God may well take our baby before she is born. If she is born alive she will have numerous problems, we will find out the specifics of these problems as the pregnancy progresses. She will not be perfect but then again none of us are and we will accept her faults and make her life as comfortable as possible no matter how short that life may be.

“This experience has made us better stronger people and we hope that it will make everyone around us appreciate life just a little more. Thanks again for your continued support and prayers.”

Aside from the T18, I had an uncomplicated pregnancy. We wrote a birth plan and reviewed it with the hospital. In our plan we chose comfort care, because we knew the condition of her heart was fatal on its own and if we did get to see her alive we did not want her hooked up to machines that were only going to prolong the inevitable. We wanted to make sure she was as comfortable as possible for as long as we had her.

The Death, Birth, Memorial and Life After

My due date came and went. The doctor told us that they would induce me when we were ready. I really wanted to go into labor on my own because I felt that if I were induced I would probably be choosing the day our daughter died. But when my due date came and went without any signs of labor I felt that psychologically I could not take the uncertainty any more, and we chose to induce on June 5th, 2 days after my due date. Because I was induced with both my other girls because I was over due I knew that there was a good chance I would have to be induced this time also.

I was scheduled to arrive at the hospital at 5:15 a.m but my water broke at 1:00 a.m. so I went into labor on my own. I am so thankful that my water broke at home only 4 hours before I was scheduled to be induced.

We went to the hospital and I delivered Abigail at 5:47 a.m. She weighed 5 pounds and was 19 inches long. She was breech and her heartbeat was going down with every contraction so they decided not to monitor it anymore. I believe Abigail passed away about 30 minutes before she was born. My labor lasted less than 5 hours. I had an epidural so I was not in any physical pain. I am so thankful that everything happened on its own.

The time we had with Abigail Rose was wonderful. One of the most special things about that time was seeing all three of our girls together. When Shannon and Shelby first came to see Abigail they wanted to hold her, touch her, kiss her and look at her. They did not care that she was not alive. She was their sister and that was all that mattered to them. I am very thankful that we gave them that opportunity to meet and love their sister.

At Abigail’s memorial service I had the priest read the following message:

“We want to thank you all for all of your continued support through this ongoing journey in our lives. We conceived and gave birth to an angel and feel very privileged to have had such an enlightening experience. Abigail Rose is now and has always been God’s child. She was only placed in our arms a short time to teach us all the lessons of a lifetime. On her short time here on earth she taught us unconditional love, she showed us courage and strength and finally she showed us how to surrender to the inevitable. Abigail was not a mistake by God; rather she was a gift from him. A gift that we can all celebrate. A gift that we should all cherish.”

Through this experience, I am very thankful for many things. I am extremely thankful that everything happened on its own and because of that we have absolutely no regrets. I truly believe that God was watching out for us. I am also thankful that at the ‘young?’ age of 34 I know how precious life is. Most people do not learn this life altering lesson until much latter in life. Matt and I no longer take anything for granted; we value life so much more then we did before we were blessed with Abigail.

I am also extremely thankful that I found support from the Trisomy board. I think that is the one reason I still have my sanity. I was able to research and talk to others that are going through and have been through the same thing as me. I found a due date buddy and we talked on the phone regularly. I did not feel alone. I found that no one wanted to talk about my pregnancy and the baby I was carrying and that was all that I wanted to talk about. The board was where I could talk openly with people who understood.

We are a stronger, closer family than we were before we had Abigail. She will always be a positive part of our family.

Abigail was born over 7 years ago and we still talk about her and certainly think about her. Shannon and Shelby still talk about their sister in heaven. We did get pregnant again 5 months after Abigail was born and we had a healthy baby girl. I believe she is a gift from Abigail so we named her Riley Rose after our angel Abigail Rose. Carrying a baby again so soon after loosing one is very difficult but it is worth every second of worry.

When Matt and I first found out that Abigail had Trisomy 18 we were devastated but we chose not to let it destroy us. When tragedy strikes you can let it make you or break you. We vowed that this was not going to destroy us. We tried to find something positive in the experience. I am not saying that those 20 weeks and 2 days carrying Abigail knowing the prognosis was easy; it wasn’t. It was the worst time in our lives and I never want to go through something like this again…but the lessons we learned because of it have changed our lives for the better in so many ways.

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Kathy Murphy
Tue, Feb 10, 2015
I want to thank you for sharing your story. I work at a pregnant center and as I write this one of my ladies was just made aware that her baby girl has Trisomy 18. You have helped me so through God's help she will be able to have her little girl. I will share your story with her.
You are wonderful parents and I pray that God will bless you and your precious family always. Skiers

Sun, Feb 08, 2015
God bless you and your girls husband and little Angel Abigail

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Thanks so much for sharing your journey.congratz on the birth of Riley Rose :-)

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yolanda & quincy stewart.
Fri, Mar 21, 2014
Thanks for sharing, I'm reading pretty much everything I can it really makes you feel good to know your not alone. I was told at 22 weeks our daughter has trisomy 18. It's hitting my husband a lot harder then me. I guess seeing as I am a m.a. and having taking care of our oldest daughter who was born at 28 weeks with,c.p. hearing loss lazy left eye and slow learning I tend to take things one day at a time. They said she wouldn't survive pass six month and she will be 21 this year. But this came completely out of left field. But how every long our Mary Elizabeth lives it will be well enjoyed. Thank you

Mindy Murphy
Mon, Oct 21, 2013
Wow! I have read tons of stories, watched videos and searched for hours and hours looking for some type of encouragement. Your story is uplifting and very close to my heart. My husband and I are 30 weeks pregnant with our third daughter. She was diagnosed at 20 weeks with full T18. She has a large Omphalocele, major heart complications, and her hands are not formed correctly. Her name is Charleigh Rose. God works in amazing ways! We aren't sure what God has in store for our Charleigh girl, but already she has impacted more lives than we could have ever imagined! Thank you for sharing your story!

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