A letter to our friends.
The following was written to be shared with anyone who has been praying for our situation over the last few days. And for those who may not have access to Facebook or Blogger.
It is meant for you. Thank you. You have been such a blessing to our family.
Dear Friends in Christ,
It is the deepest thanksgiving that we wish to extend to you for all the prayers, thoughts, meals, help with childcare, hospital visits and support during the last few days.
On Wednesday, my wife Angela was admitted to UNC Women's Hospital at 13 weeks 3 days into her pregnancy due to a partial molar pregnancy which was causing ever-increasing blood pressures and extremely high thyroid hormone levels. Her situation was serious enough that her regular OB-GYN in Raleigh felt it was safer for her care to be managed at that point in a hospital with more specialized and experienced doctors.
The doctors immediately wanted us to end the pregnancy due to the potential for life-threatening emergencies such as pulmonary edema, seizures, stroke and thyroid storm. But at this point Angela was stable so we contacted the National Catholic Bioethics Center for some ethical choices to this situation. Wednesday night Angela's blood pressure became stable, but Thursday it was back up again and we received the test results that our baby had a fatal diagnosis, also caused by the partial molar pregnancy. It was decided that we could begin an induction at that time- this was our first major prayer victory as the doctors were initially unwilling to perform anything but a D&C. A D&C performed with our live baby in the womb would have been akin to an abortion and we could not allow that.
After speaking with the NCBC we learned that an induction to remove the source of the pathology (Angela's molar placenta) would be morally licit, although the unintended consequence would be the death of our baby. Because our baby would be delivered whole and intact with an induction, it would preserve it's dignity as a human made in the image of God.
The induction began at 1:30pm Thursday. By 2:30pm Angela was already experiencing cramping and bleeding, even though the doctors informed us it could take 24 or more hours to complete the process. By 6:15pm I, Robert, was able to join Angela at the hospital, but I would have to leave by 10:00pm to relieve the family who was watching our other children at home. Angela soon began to pass some large blood clots and her bleeding picked up so much that around 7:30pm, the doctor was very worried and recommending an immediate D&C. We asked her to consult with a more experienced doctor who came in and told Angela to push. By God's extreme grace, she delivered the molar placenta first, and then our tiny little baby; whole, intact, and beautifully and wonderfully made. This was our second tremendous prayer victory that we know was only possible because of the prayers you offered up to our Holy God for us. When this doctor delivered the baby, she spoke with such sweetness and joy in her voice, as if Angela had just delivered a live full-term infant! It was such a blessing, and though we were sad for our loss, there was a sense of rejoicing and awe at the awesomeness of our God to allow our tiniest baby such a dignified entry into this world and passing into the next.
After delivery, Angela had to have the D&C procedure to remove any leftover molar tissue (which of course, at that point was without ethical dilemma). She was released on Friday afternoon.
If you are still reading, I apologize for the length of this note, but wanted each of you to know how through your prayers and kindness we experienced graces and blessings even during this tough time. We are not strangers to pregnancy loss. This was our 8th pregnancy. We have 3 beautiful live children: Isabel (almost 8), Ian (almost 3), and Caroline (almost 1).
Because our newest baby in heaven was so young, we do not know it's gender. We decided to choose a boy's name and a girl's name: Francis Marie.
St. Francis de Sales wrote the following:
The everlasting God in His wisdom has foreseen from all eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost heart. This cross He now sends you has been considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His divine mind, tested with His wise justice, warmed with loving arms and weighed with His own hands to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you. He has blessed it with His holy Name, anointed it with His consolation, taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God.
Thank you so much for all that you have done for us. We are so very blessed.
In Christ's love,
Robert and Angela Holmes