Laura Rennie

I don't want to bear this.

Laura R.3 Comments
Some of this post was written in May, shortly after our baby received a fatal fetal diagnosis. I chose not to publish anything about the diagnosis on Facebook or my blog until I gave birth because I didn't have many medical details to provide readers (I still don't). Mainly, though, I was desperately hoping that the whole thing was a mistake and that I'd receive a perfectly healthy baby in the end. 

I was 19 weeks and 5 days pregnant when I was first told our baby was measuring small. The technician said I was measuring 16 weeks and 6 days and told me I must have been wrong about my due date. My OB didn't think the technician was correct, but he didn't seem concerned and told me to get another ultrasound two weeks later. 

Here is part one of my story as a mother who has only memories and a scar to show for it.


On Wednesday, April 24th (22 weeks and 3 days), I had another ultrasound. Everything looked fine to us. Our baby was waving his or her sweet little hand at us (we didn't discover the gender until John was delivered), and the technician didn't linger over anything for a long period of time. Then, at the very end of the procedure, a bomb was dropped. We were told my amniotic fluid was very low and that our baby was measuring a little over 17 weeks—meaning that our baby was not only small but also had hardly grown at all in two and a half weeks. The technician went from smiley and relaxed to very agitated. She told me she would contact my OB immediately and that they would probably want to see me later that day. In the meantime, we had to go home and wait for the call from the OB.

I held in my tears until we got through the lobby and then cried out in anguish, filling the huge glass entryway of the women's center with the sounds of grief. Andy guided me to the car and we sat there together, blinking at the unrelenting sun and trying to make sense of the news we had just received. After what seemed like hours but was only minutes, I opened my mouth.

"We need hummus."

So we drove to Costco. I gratefully inhaled free samples and focused on what we needed: black beans, tomato sauce, chicken stock, hummus, pita chips and a rice cooker. What we didn't need: bad news.

My friend Erin arrived at our house not longer after we arrived home from the store. Erin had delivered a beautiful stillborn son just months earlier, and I had texted her right after appointment. She sat with me while I picked at my lunch, and then she prayed with me and cried with me.

"God doesn't give us more than we can bear," she said. "I don't want to bear this," I said back.

(quick note: I do not agree with the idea that God does not give us more than we can bear. Erin is a dear friend and I knew her intention was to try to comfort me.)

The OB finally called to confirm that my low fluid was a big problem and they set me up to see a perinatal specialist two days later (Friday, April 26th). Andy and I sat in our living room and stared at our phones, dreading the calls we had to make to our parents. I'll never forget watching my husband's face crumple when his mom picked up her phone.

I received an email that night from my brother. His words of advice and encouragement continue to bring me comfort today.

"I don't feel you guys need to pray or strive a lot, but instead watch some funny shows or listen to Bill Cosby. You guys have a lot of people supporting you in prayer."

This is what I took away from those words:

It's okay to let other people communicate to the Lord on your behalf. Rest. It's okay to laugh. In fact, go out of your way to laugh."

That night we watched episode after episode of "Parks and Recreation," and after hours of crying, we laughed.

Thursday was a blur. We both worked from home and took lots of breaks to hug each other and try to make each other giggle. Andy kept telling me to not let my mind wander to "what ifs" and reminded me that we would soon know more from the specialist.

Friday afternoon we met with a perinatal specialist for the first time. We listened to worship music on the way over, the words of "Come to Me" by Bethel and "Oceans" by Hillsong United piercing a part of me that I hadn't known existed until that week. I now see how God used many of these songs to prepare my heart to both bear and battle the hurt and fear and desperation that would come.

The green ultrasound gel on my abdomen seeped into my pants while the doctor checked on the baby, but for once I didn't care. I was too busy trying to discern what he was saying from the lyrics that kept running through my head. Your baby is way too small and doesn't have room to grow.  Come to Me, I'm all you need. You don't have enough amniotic fluid. I am your steadfast, so don't be afraid. Your baby isn't getting enough blood. I am with you. The limbs and organs are not growing properly. The baby has clubfoot. There is a potential hole in the baby's heart. STOP! I thought. Stop telling me all of the things that are wrong with my baby! Your baby will likely not survive in the womb and has a very unlikely chance of surviving outside the womb without life support. Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me. Your baby could die tomorrow, or in a few weeks, or it could even be born. But then it would die. You've never failed, and you won't start now. This could all be caused by a chromosomal disorder, or it could be genetic. We don't know what to tell you...

We listened and nodded and wiped our eyes and shuffled to the genetic counselor's office, where we avoided looking at each other. The counselor talked with us about chromosomal disorders and blood tests and what our options were in moving forward. I felt like I was detached from my body and watching the whole scene as if it was a movie and the woman playing me was reading off of a script. "What are we supposed to do with ourselves?" we asked. "What are we supposed to say to people?"

We still don't have the answers.