Monday, March 16, 2015

Reuben's Story, by His Mama

Written by Meran Byleveld 

My husband and I were married in January 2014. We knew we wanted to start a family, and were thrilled to learn at the beginning of April that we were expecting a baby, due December 17th. We had seen our baby at our dating scan and were excited about our twelve week scan, as we wanted to see our baby again. We were enthralled by the tiny baby wiggling and moving around on the ultrasound monitor. The ultrasound technician, however, didn't seem to share our joy. He informed us that there was something wrong. 

During the scan, he had identified a large cystic hygroma on the back of the baby's neck. He had also noted a two-vessel umbilical cord. The technician was very solemn as he informed us that we had a high risk pregnancy. He wasn't able to give us the statistics yet, but we needed to contact our doctor as soon as possible.

The next afternoon, I went to see my GP while my husband was at work. She told me that we had a 1:4 chance of Trisomy 21, 1:6 of Trisomy 18 and 1:6 of Trisomy 13. My husband and I were devastated, but contacted our families, friends and church family, asking them to pray. At thirteen weeks, I had an appointment with a specialist obstetrician. After reviewing our results and completing an ultrasound, he informed us that he could be wrong but he believed our baby had Turner Syndrome and would die of heart failure within the subsequent five weeks. He even went as far as to phone an anaesthetist to organize "the procedure" to remove the baby once he or she was dead - while I was sitting shell shocked in his office. He also recommended that we undergo further testing, as we had told him quite emphatically that we were not willing to end the pregnancy. My husband, Rob, and I had already discussed amniocentesis and CVS testing, and I had told him that I was not willing to do anything that would risk harming our child, so he stood with me as we refused to undergo testing. 

Further ultrasounds showed a lot of fluid build-up under our baby's skin, issues with the abdominal organs and the amniotic sac beginning to come away from my uterus wall. There was also the possibility of a missing nasal bone. We continued to keep people updated and continued to pray for our child, believing that God has the power to heal, if it is His will. 

At seventeen weeks and five days, I went for my latest ultrasound. The obstetrician informed me that he couldn't find a heartbeat and that my baby had died. I was devastated, and in a state of disbelief, I returned to his clinic the following day for another ultrasound, "just in case" he had been wrong. The second ultrasound confirmed my worst fears - my baby's life was over. 

On Friday, I checked into the maternity ward of the hospital so that labour could be induced. I insisted that another ultrasound be carried out, so that I knew with an absolute certainty that my baby was definitely gone. Again, there was no heartbeat so with my own heart breaking, I allowed the obstetrician to induce my labour.

The following morning, Saturday 19th July 2014, eighteen weeks and three days into my pregnancy, and fifteen hours after being induced, my son Reuben Christopher Byleveld entered the world silently. There was no one in the room except Rob and I as our tiny baby boy was born. There were complications from the birth - over three hours later, the placenta still had not been delivered and had to be manually removed as I was sobbing with the pain. After the placenta was gone, I began to bleed heavily and lost more than a litre of blood. I spent five hours on an intravenous drip which failed to stop the bleeding, and ended up in surgery that night to prevent me from bleeding to death, and to remove the remaining pieces of placenta. In the meantime, we had two opportunities to hold Reuben. 

He was a tiny 200 grams and 16cm long. 

Reuben's teddy bear from the hospital, his bracelet and his hand and footprints.
We found out after Reuben's postmortem examination that he didn't have Turner Syndrome at all, but suffered from Trisomy 21 - Down Syndrome. 

We still miss Reuben every day and don't understand why we couldn't keep our precious son, but we are leaning on God's everlasting arms to have the strength to get through every day.

Releasing balloons on Reuben's due date.


Firefly said...

I'm so sorry Meran. :'(

Kellie said...

Meran, thank you for sharing your beautiful story. He is so sweet and so perfect. It is such a testament to the beauty of life and no one really knows (diagnosis) until they are born. You are a beautiful mama and I pray for you and your aching heart.

S. J. Wickham said...

Such courage you guys. Beautiful article!

Jen Dinsdale said...

Dearest Meran you are so courageous sharing your heart reaching story. I am sure it will help many people your strength and fight. I know at the right time you will take home Rubens brother or sister home from the hospital to keep in your home forever and Ruben with be watching and smiling. Love to u both Jen xx

Anonymous said...

Sorry for your loss Mera. I also know how it is to lose a baby. I had my child at 27 weeks due to severe pre-eclampsia and loss him 3 weeks later.. and to this day still miss him eveyday..

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