Sophia's Story

In the middle of November 2010, we found out we were expecting a baby. Baby #5 to be exact! At first, I was a bit stressed, but only because I didn't think we were ready to take on another child just yet. But I told myself that God must've felt as if we were ready, so I accepted this great gift from Him! Time just seemed to drag by. But finally, it felt as if the time was flying by, even though I seemed to have the worst morning sickness ever.  Finally, we reached February 22nd. I was so excited... this was the day we would finally find out if we were having another little boy, or a second girl (God knows I was praying for a girl). Off to Radiology at Geisinger!

We didn't have to wait very long and they were taking us into a room and starting the scan. Before long, we were told "I see girl parts!" I was soooo happy! This was exactly what we have been waiting for. And off we went to spread the news to the family. I sent out numerous texts and posted "IT'S A GIRL" as my Facebook status. I couldn't have been any happier.

Around 8pm that night, I received a call from my doctor who told me they needed to see me back the next morning for another scan. "They believe they may have spotted an abnormality with the baby's head.", was what she told me. Immediately, I started to panic. Before my fiance even knew what was going on, he had to try to calm me down before I could speak those words to him. "Don't get yourself all worked up. They could be wrong." is what he told me. So I calmed myself down as best as I could. I kept telling myself all night that maybe he was right, that the doctors were wrong or that maybe there was a malfunction with their equipment. I had the hardest time sleeping that night.

February 23, 2011 I was off to Maternal Fetal Medicine. I had no idea what to expect or who I was going to see. I checked in and sat in the waiting room for about 10 minutes. Then, a woman came out calling my name. I got up right away and followed her. We went into her office, where she asked me a few questions, such as "If there is a problem with the baby, what do you plan on doing? Would you continue your pregnancy or terminate?" At this point, I knew something must be wrong. I just didn't know what! So of course my response was "I'm going to continue. Without a doubt. I do not believe in abortions!" And we left it at that. She walked me back to the ultrasound room. It wasn't long before the ultrasound tech came in and started the scan. Wow, Sophia was very active! I remember laying there just watching her move. It almost looked like she was dancing! In came the doctor, he asked me a few health questions, watched the monitor, and then excused himself. Scan complete... more pictures to take home! At this point, I was still very excited! I had no idea what was going to happen next.

Within about 10 minutes, the doctor was back. He sat down in the chair next to me and didn't speak a word for about 2 minutes. Then finally, he said "We have spotted a problem with the baby." All I could say was, "Okay." He went on to tell me that she had Anencephaly, which I had NEVER heard of in my life. So my response was, "Okay, well what can we do to fix that?" He began telling me that this condition is 100% fatal, that the neural tube never closed at the top, which meant her skull and never formed and there were no surgeries that they could do to fix it. Before he could finish, my eyes were filled with tears. I remember holding my face in my hands and crying uncontrollably. I had a million thoughts and questions racing through my head. "How could this happen?" "Why us?" "Is this my punishment for being stressed out when I first found out we were expecting?" He left the room for awhile, so I could try to calm myself down. It took a little while, but I was finally able to talk, still with tears running down my cheeks. The woman who I met with first, Mindy, was in the room with me the entire time. She had asked me if I would be interested in a teddy bear. And not just any teddy bear. This one would have a recording of Sophia's heartbeat inside. I knew right away that I wanted this. At first, I thought it was just moving forward a bit too fast. So much information to take in... but we went ahead and did the recording. Mindy and the ultrasound tech left the room for a few minutes, but not before getting my Dad. He came in the room with me and my mom, and I explained what they had just told me. We were all such a mess.

Mindy and the ultrasound tech came back into the room. The ultrasound tech actually picked out the teddy bear. She said she seen this white bunny sitting there and it made her think of me right away. I loved it! Time to lay back and listen to Sophia's heart one more time. And the recording was done. I held onto Sophia's pictures and the bunny with her heartbeat inside and just sobbed. 2 doctors came back in the room and explained things again. This time I was able to hear them a little more and absorb some of the information. But they all went on to tell me that this wasn't my fault. There's nothing I could've done to prevent it. These things "just happen". They asked if I had any questions, and at that point, I didn't. All I wanted to do was go home. Truth is, I wanted to try to escape from this nightmare.  The doctor hugged me, apologized, and left.

We finally made our way out to the car, where I cried much more. I knew I had to tell my fiance. But I thought maybe it would be best if I waited til we got home to tell him, since he was at home alone with our 3 year old son. After about 5 minutes, I changed my mind and called him right away. I don't think he completely understood everything I was saying. He seemed to take it all rather well. Once I got home, and was able to better explain it, you could tell by the look on his face that he felt the same way I did. We were crushed! And we knew we were going to have to break this horrible news to our 4 other children (ages 10-3). This was not going to be an easy task. But when they came home from school, and they noticed that Mommy was holding on to a bunny and crying, they knew something was wrong right away. We explained it to them the best way we could, and that was honestly. They cried their little eyes out. I felt so bad for them. I wanted to take their pain away. I wanted to make Sophia "all better". But I knew I couldn't do any of those things.

And this is the beginning of Sophia's journey with us. I wanted to document all the time we have with her, from pregnancy til birth, in hopes of helping other parents who are dealing with the same diagnosis, who will deal with the same diagnosis, or those who already have.

Sophia Grace Velazquez
Diagnosed Feb. 23, 2011