Leanne O'Neill (32), Brennan Esther (Stillborn, would be 7), Maura Grace (6), and Clark Andrew (3 months)
Leanne shares -
"I was so excited when I became pregnant with my first child, I had always wanted to be a mother. At 7 weeks I started bleeding, the OB told me I was miscarrying and wanted to schedule a D and C for the next day but I insisted on another ultrasound and there on the screen was a little heartbeat, we called her our minnow. I thought everything would be fine after that but at 12 weeks the doctor noticed a malformation in her jaw, that's when the testing began. The same day I found out that my minnow was a little girl I found out that her jaw was so undersized she would never breath on her own, they suspected a chromosome disorder and at 18 weeks we finally had answers - 17q21.3 deletion, 16 and 17 unbalanced translocation, it was a .05% chance of happening, they said my body should have miscarried before I even knew I was pregnant but my minnow held on.
At 19 weeks I made the decision to say goodbye, she was having seizures in the womb and her lungs were too small, she wouldn't be able to make it outside of the womb and I didn't want her to suffer. It was the hardest decision I have ever made, but I knew it was the merciful thing to do. When I went for the procedure at 21 weeks but she was already gone. I went into labor waiting for surgery and had to be rushed back. I fell apart when I lost her, Brennan Esther was born sleeping on January 19th, 2011.
My grandmother had multiple losses and when I lost Brennan I asked her if it would ever stop hurting, she said no but you learn to live with the pain. I still suffer from PTSD from her loss and although I am so unbelievably thankful for my two living children I feel like a piece of me will always be missing without her.
Motherhood has been a double edged sword when it comes to my relationship with my body. I spent my college years trying to be thin and never feeling like I was thin enough. I gained a lot of weight with my second pregnancy and never lost it but I'm trying to be okay with that. My body betrayed me, when I lost my daughter Brennan I was so angry and disgusted at my body, how could it do that? My body was supposed to keep my baby safe, to form my baby correctly and it didn't. My body couldn't keep her alive. There was a .05% chance of that chromosome disorder happening, and yet it happened. My relationship with my body changed after I had my living daughter Maura Grace, my guppy. I don't want her to grow up with the body issues I had, I want her to love herself and find beauty in herself. So I have vowed to fake it till I make it, I can see the beauty in everyone but myself so I am going to try to project as much self confidence and body love as I can in hopes that someday I'll believe myself.
The postpartum adjustment with my living daughter wasn't what I expected. I was so so unbelievably relieved and grateful to be leaving the hospital with a living child this time, I expected the fear to go away, to finally be able to breath but I couldn't. I stayed awake for the first two nights just to make sure she was breathing, I had such horrible anxiety attacks if she was away from me. I ended up calling my midwife in tears and started a nursing safe anti-anxiety medication which helped tremendously. I will say that having lost Brennan I am so thankful for even the hard moments with my other children, for every late night feeding, for every diaper change, I don't take a single one for granted and I would still do anything to go through those moments with her.
I want to share my journey through loss, let others know there is life after loss and there is love and laughter and it's okay to talk about the child that came before. I guess I'm also trying to convince myself that there is beauty in this big, broken body of mine, this body that couldn't keep her safe."