Matthew Neal born sleeping on November 11, 2017 at 4:04am, 9 inches, 11oz.
Before we get there though, let’s rewind exactly 4 months. July 11, 2017… It was a Monday, and I was rushing getting ready for work. The week before I feeling “off”, so I decided to take a pregnancy test. I put the test aside and set a timer so I didn’t forget, after 5 seemingly long minutes past, the timer went off prompting me to check. POSITIVE. Completely astounded, I wake my husband up and tell him I need him to look at something. He begrudgingly gets out of bed and comes to look at test. I ask “two lines?” He says, “I guess?” Not really the response I was looking for, but a positive test none the less! Hands down the happiest day of my life! Now the longest 5 week wait if my life… My first appointment was on August 15th. My husband and I nervously go into the ultrasound room, anxiously waiting to hear the magic heartbeat… a perfect 161 BPM!
It’s official! Baby Matthew was on board!
I don’t think I have ever been happier! The first 12 weeks were just shy of perfect. I only had minor nausea, never threw up, but was always hungry and tired. I decided not to do the ultrasound to check the fluid behind his neck, I didn’t think it was necessary. My husband and I go in for our second appointment, my doctor is running late so they took us back to the ultrasound room to check the heartbeat. Our tech asked only one question “Is this your first?” We said “Yes.” We go back to the exam room and wait. Our Doctor comes in the door and tells us that their is fluid around Matthew that should not be there. The fluid was around his belly, back, and head. She said that they were sending us to high risk to get further testing and diagnosis.
Our world fell apart in an instant. I cried for most of the day. We waited 1 very long week for our appointment. More bad news…2.5cm of fluid at the widest part behind his neck and about 1cm all the way round his torso. We did blood tests to see what we were up against, no trisomy 18, 13, or 23. No Turners, and 50/50 chance of Austism. Matthew’s heart was also on the right side of his body when it was supposed to be on the left. With all this information by week 17, we were very hopeful that Matthew would make it to and through delivery. The next “major test” was the 20 week anatomy scan.
Before I tell you how our fate was sealed, let me just tell you that for 8 weeks I tired to be happy and stay hopeful. I loved watching my belly grow, loved when I first realized I felt him move! I prayed every morning, noon, and night for God to let me keep him here on earth. We celebrated finding out that he was boy. Made plans for how we could accommodate a child with special need, but also prepared ourselves of the possibility of us not being able to keep him. I prayed for God to give me peace with what ever the outcome. (Hindsight: the amount of peace He has given me lets me know even though this has been the most painful experience of my life, I am on the right path). In one of my 2am crying sessions I was begging and pleading with God to give me a miracle and let the fluid disappear, God gave me his name instead: Matthew Neal. Those 8 weeks were some of the most tormenting, but happiest weeks of my life.
I had such high hopes for the scan. I told myself that the fluid would be drainable at birth, and that all Matthew would need was heart surgery, easy! God had other plans…
Matthew was missing a kidney, heart was still on the right side of his body when it should have been on the left side, and the fluid pocket was now only behind his neck, measuring almost 4cm thick. His jaw was also not growing correctly. The high risk doctors told me that since the pocket was that big, there was brain matter, brain fluid, and exposed nerves.
The worst words ever to hear: your baby is not compatible with life. The doctors told us our options, strongly recommend that I be induced, for my health and Matthew’s and my comfort.
I sobbed myself to sleep for the next week, while trying to enjoy my last precious days with my son. I went to the hospital on November 9th, and stayed almost 40 hours. After Matthew was born, we were able to keep him, hold him, love him, kiss him, memorize every tiny detail about him for 7 hours. We took pictures, family was able to come see him. He was perfect! So it was very hard for my mind to reconcile the large fluid mass behind his head, and the longer we had him the more you could see his jaw deformity. Once I realized that it was getting harder for me to not have him my arms I knew it was time to say good bye. That was the HARDEST thing I have ever had to do.
After having to wait another long three weeks, Matthew was buried next to my Husband’s Father on December 1st, 2017. He will always be with family and be held by God. One day I will get to hold him again.
Matthew watch over us until we can be with you again. Bring us a perfect little sibling for us share your life with! Love your Mommy.
Thank you for sharing this Mikaela. And thank you for letting me meet my beautiful cousin. And you are right, he will always be surround by family and will always be loved and remembered. I love you, Kyle, and Matthew very much.
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