On Thursday, April 3rd, we learned we were expecting a new little bambino/a. Another little Leone!
Our surprise and health concerns (given my pregnancy-induced stroke history) quickly turned to great jubilation as we realized the gift we'd again been given. Rather than adding to our family by adoption, as we were considering, we were now going to be adding by birth once again. Six little Leones.
The kids were thrilled. Kathleen, our nine-year-old, cried tears of joy, a new experience for her. Talk quickly centered on names, room arrangements, and much more. The pregnancy hormones kicked in for real a week later with the usual nausea and the quick-popping abdomen. We spread the news earlier than usual this time, as we hoped friends and family would join us in praying for a healthy pregnancy.
Three weeks later, on April 24th, we received the overwhelmingly sad news that our baby had no heartbeat. It was estimated that our little Leone had died within just twenty-four hours of the OB appointment where the lack of heartbeat was revealed. She (or he) was 8 weeks gestation. This was our first miscarriage.
Anna Marie, our eleven-year-old, had joined me for the ultrasound. We had prepared her that ultrasounds don't alway reveal good news, but of course, we never expected the outcome we'd receive that day. Thus, Anna Marie and I together were the first to hear the news.
We saw, on the ultrasound, a perfect little baby at the very early stages of development. The spine was distinct. The head was prominent. And although I think I could detect arm and leg "buds," there was also still a bit of that early "tail" shape to the bottom end of our little one. But there was no movement. No heartbeat. No sign of life.
A follow-up ultrasound the next week would confirm things definitively for us.
We are full of emotions. The little one whom we already loved will never enter our lives in the same way that our other five children have. But this little one already has a special place in heaven and can intercede on our behalf to God. We have a treasure in heaven, and we know we are blessed. But we are human, and the tears still flow.
I have a beautiful bouquet of a dozen long-stemmed red roses from my dear husband and a magnificent spring bouquet of tulips and lilies from our great friend Claudia. The flowers helped put a smile on my face during a time that felt so strangely bleak. They came just as the lovely congratulations-on-your-pregnancy flowers from my mother-in-law had faded.
We hope to bury our baby next week. Our children have decided that our baby was a girl, and have named her Mary. Whether she's a Mary or a Mario, she's dearly loved by her parents and siblings and won't be forgotten. We hope she'll pray for her siblings and parents here on earth.