Benji’s Story


For over three years my husband and I struggled with infertility. After pursuing various treatments, we finally found out we were expecting our first child on Easter Sunday 2011. We were thrilled. After so much disappointment it was almost hard to believe we would finally be parents. Our due date was Jan 1, 2012.

All our early monitoring with the fertility clinic was on-track. On June 24, at 12w5d gestation, I had my first routine OB appointment. After an ultrasound the OB resident said she wanted me to speak with the hi-risk OB because she had noticed something. I figured that couldn’t be a good thing. So I spoke with the hi-risk OB and he expressed some concern with the amount of fluid around the baby’s neck. He suggested we do a nuchal scan that day.

Originally we had declined any early screenings because of high false-positive rates and we knew we would not terminate a pregnancy. We had worked so hard to have this baby we would love them no matter what.

We did the nuchal screening and it was confirmed there was something wrong. The nuchal measurement was high and the baby had clenched fists. At the time the doctor was predicting Trisomy 18 or Turner’s Syndrome. We elected to have amnio done a few weeks later to confirm.

The amnio confirmed a baby boy with Trisomy 18. We elected to continue the pregnancy. We wanted to know that we did everything we could to give him the best chance at life. We named him Benjamin Harrison after two of our grandfathers. We call him ‘Benji.’

Overall I enjoyed my pregnancy. I didn’t really have any major physical problems. I was just thankful to be pregnant and having that time with Benji. The doctors were very good to us, allowing extra ultrasounds for us to follow his growth and get to see him on-screen.

We had consults with pediatric cardiologists to discuss his heart defects. We even had an interdepartmental team meeting at the hospital to discuss our birth plan and Benji’s care if we were fortunate enough to have a live birth. We elected comfort care because we knew we wanted him to feel loved and held, and not hooked up to numerous machines during his short time on earth.

Feeling Benji kick was the favorite part of my pregnancy. I always appreciated that he was letting me know that he was still with us. During the 37th week I was feeling him move less. At my weekly OB appointment on Dec 16 I mentioned this. I was told it was normal at this point in pregnancy. They checked Benji with the Doppler and on ultrasound and he was fine.

I last felt him move on Saturday night, Dec 17. I was worried all day on Sunday. But I was hopeful that I was being paranoid, and maybe he had changed positions and that is why I didn’t feel him move.

Monday I called the doctor’s office and they had me come in for an ultrasound. As soon as I saw the ultrasound screen I knew he was gone. I had had enough ultrasounds that I knew what his beating heart looked like. Today it was silent. Benji had passed. Sunday was 38 weeks. We were so close. He fought a good fight and we are so proud of him.

Benji’s Birth
That evening we went to the hospital to be induced. I was 1cm when they placed the Foley bulb. Interestingly enough, the OB resident that placed the Foley was the same one that caught Benji’s condition in June. We had come full circle.

I was only 2cm by the morning when they started the pitocin. Contractions progressed by lunch and I was ready for an epidural. Once the epidural was placed I was at 6cm. The Dr broke my water. About 3 hours later I pushed for 30 minutes and Benji arrived. Benji was silently born at 6:51pm on December 20, 2011. He was 3lb, 15.4oz, and 17.5 inches long.

That was the best night of my life as I slept with Benji in my arms. And the following day was the hardest as I had to say good-bye to my precious son. We were able to spend a wonderful 22 hours with Benji at the hospital. The nurses and Dr were wonderful to us. They helped us collect mementos and make our time with Benji special. Despite the sad outcome, we will have good memories of our birth experience.

My husband and I have been trying to find our new normal since we have been home. We know it will take time. We are trying to celebrate Benji’s life and fighting spirit.

We know we want to give Benji a sibling, but time will tell when we will be ready for that and what path we will take. I completely enjoyed my pregnancy and birth experience, and can only hope to experience a happy ending of bringing home a baby. But I also realize that continuing to pursue fertility treatments may not be the best option for us as we continue to age. Adoption has always been an option for us too. But it is too early to make any decisions about our next step. We need to concentrate on mourning and celebrating our precious Benji, and take time to heal.

Benji has taught us so much about love and strength. He has helped us meet some amazing people. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity and compassion of family, friends, and complete strangers.

To our sweet Benji…Mommy and Daddy miss you so much! We are so thankful for the time we had with you. We wish it could have been longer, but we know we will meet again. Please watch over us, our angel.

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