After several other appointments that Kenny and I had at Atlanta Children’s Hospital, we ended our busy day with a fetal MRI. I had researched what this experience would be like, and I had been fearing it all day.
I knew that I would be placed inside this big circular machine and left inside for about 30-45 minutes. I knew that the MRI machine was supposed to be totally safe, but I always imagine the worst-case scenario.
I imagined metal objects flying around my head, hurting me. Or something going wrong with the machine and getting stuck inside for hours. Then there was the anxiety I felt about learning all of Hadassah’s malformations.
The technician led us to a room where I changed into a hospital gown. Kenny and I removed all metal objects and kept them inside the room for safety. I trembled as I handed him my purse. Kenny hugged me to calm me down.
“Let’s pray,” he said. I thought that was a good idea. He asked our Heavenly Father to calm my nerves and to show us that Hadassah could be saved.
Then the technician led us through two large metal doors. She screened us for any metal objects before we entered another room that housed the MRI machine. It was smaller than I had imagined. Kenny helped me onto the movable table.
“Are you going to be all right?” The technician observed my furrowed brow and sweaty, trembling hands.
I nodded. “I think so. Will I be able to talk to you while I’m in there?”
“Yes, you can. I’ll also give you this. If there’s an emergency, just squeeze it and we’ll get you out of there. But only do it if there’s an emergency because we’ll have to start the MRI all over again.”
She handed me a small ball that was connected to a long wire. Just holding it calmed me. I lay on my side, and the technicians placed pillows under my head and belly. Next, they strapped me onto the table with long seatbelt-style straps and hooked a flat screen around my belly.
When the technician pushed the table inside the machine, I just started counting. Sometimes my thoughts wandered a bit, but I kept counting when I felt the need. I was panting inside the stuffy machine, and the technicians asked me to hold my breath a few times. Probably to help get some good pictures of Hadassah. I stopped counting at 600.
The technician pulled me out. I could feel the heat pounding in my cheeks. They were beet red. After I changed and waited awhile, a doctor walked into the consultation room.
“Her condition is very severe,” he began. My hope dissipated inside my heart like a slowly-released balloon. “Her lungs are quite small, too small. Basically, a human can survive with about 50% of normal lung capacity, but she doesn’t even have that. She also has severe scoliosis, one of the worst cases I’ve ever seen. Her back is straight until the abdominal area where the spine juts off into almost a 90 degree angle.”
My hope drained out entirely now. Why did I have hope that she could live and even be normal? Our local cardiologist had said that her heart formation was normal. Now, it seemed that her heart was the best-formed organ in her body, and even it was located outside her chest. We could do nothing about it.
I still was not satisfied with this decision. I wanted to consult the local cardiologist and hear what the other specialists in Atlanta would say when they saw the pictures.
Kenny volunteered to drive the whole way home. I felt exhausted. We stopped at Cracker Barrel for a good dinner but ate in silence.
“I’m sorry that we’re not talking more.” Kenny looked lovingly into my eyes.
“It’s okay. It’s been a long day.” I stared at my food, then looked up. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” At least we still had each other.
by Sarah George