|hi max, I’m your momma.|
Should we have known.
This is by far the question I get asked most about Maxwell. Should we have known? It’s sort of a tricky question to answer.
Could we have known? Yes, definitely.
Should we have known? No, definitely not.
I get asked a lot if I had any ultrasounds during my pregnancy with Maxwell. At 8 weeks I had an initial check confirming pregnancy with an ultrasound, heart beating, tiny baby forming. At 13 weeks I opted to have the nuchal translucency screening- something I have never done before. It’s an ultrasound to screen for chromosome problems and also congenital heart defects. With my other two children, it is something I skipped, but for some reason with baby #3, I felt like I should do it. And I did, and everything came back normal. At 16 weeks I had an elective ultrasound at the hospital to sneak a peak at the gender (no dice.) At 20 weeks I had my anatomy scan by my OB at the time. We know I switched doctors, and I don’t want to dwell on this- but I think it’s weird for a doctor to do his own anatomy scan, it felt very rushed. After that ultrasound I had THREE more elective ultrasounds at the hospital to try to find out the gender of the baby. I know at that point we weren’t examining the heart or looking for defects, but we still got to check up on the baby. At 32 weeks I had a growth check with my OB to make sure everything was on schedule. Again, everything measured right on track, things looked good. (It’s also when we found out that Max was actually a boy and not a girl, so..there’s that.)
If you count them all up, that is eight ultrasounds. EIGHT. Some were performed by trained ultrasound techs, some by a doctor, and exactly zero red flags were raised concerning the baby. Not all heart defects are detected by ultrasound, but if there is something off they usually order a fetal echo, which is a level two ultrasound that can see things much more clearly.
I can not stress how thankful I am that I did not know what was about to happen on the morning of April 24th.. Those minutes in the OR are so precious to me, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. If we had known, I would have delivered in the bay area at a large hospital capable of performing open heart surgery. Maxwell would have been taken from me immediately, been hooked up to tubes, sent to the OR, who knows what else. The life of a heart baby is hard- hospitals and zipper scars and medications and tubes and surgeries and all sorts of challenges. Even then and depending on the defect, rarely is it “fixable.” There are lots of babies who have heart defects that have surgeries and go on to live happy and healthy lives.
If that had been Maxwell’s mission, if that was his fight and his purpose, we would have done that. We would have fought right beside him- we would have done everything that we could for him and more. But I know our Father in Heaven had other plans for Max. Instead of a difficult and painful life, Maxwell was peaceful and perfect and calm. He didn’t have to endure any medical procedures, he wasn’t poked or wounded. He was placed into our arms for a little while until he was called back home.
So when people ask, I always say no, we should not have known. Medically yes, some of these things are detectable, especially with the complexity of anatomy like Maxwells, but ultimately no, we weren’t supposed to know. I firmly believe that things were put into place so that I could have an uneventful pregnancy and go into my delivery with nothing but love and happiness for our sweet son about to be born. My memories with him are untarnished, free from worry or regret.
You know you have that first trimester ultrasound, you hear the heartbeat and you breathe a sigh of relief. You have that anatomy scan and see the baby moving around, everything measures on track and again you think you are safe. 24 weeks comes and goes and your baby is viable. And when you deliver you wait to hear that baby let out his first big angry cry and you think “we did it! He’s here!” With Max I remember feeling so relieved that the hard part was over and all the best parts were just beginning.
And maybe, our Heavenly Father does the same for us, maybe He was waiting for Maxwell to come home, to return back. And when Maxwell peacefully passed from this world to the next, that there were special people on the other side to encourage him. And maybe Heavenly Father said, “you did it, you did it! You are here. Welcome home.”
I’m missing Maxwell today. Today and all the days. I look forward to the time that he is in my arms again.