This time, before trying to conceive, they sought advice from a genetic counselor. The counselor confirmed that the odds of having a healthy baby were in their favor, since Ronneberg had been taking increased doses of folic acid, and neither she nor her husband had a family history of genetic defects. This gave them the confidence to try again, and today, happily, Ronneberg is pregnant. But like many women, she won’t rest easy until she’s past the 16-week mark.
“I’ve lost my innocence,” she says.
The Unexplained Can Happen
I was 32 and in perfect health when I conceived. Aside from a few common complaints, I felt great for the whole nine months.
But suddenly, in the last hours of my pregnancy, everything went to hell. I had been at the hospital for 30 minutes when the labor and delivery
nurses realized my son was in distress. Liam was delivered by emergency Cesarean section — and in cardiorespiratory failure. He was 2 days old before we knew he’d live.
For the first two weeks after my son’s birth, I sat by his bed in the newborn intensive care unit and cried for hours at a time. “I’m so sorry I did this to you,” I would say to him over and over. Even though at least a dozen different doctors and nurses assured me that what happened wasn’t my fault, I blamed myself.
“You won the crap lottery,” a hospital counselor told me. “You have to accept that and move on.” It was only when she went through my medical records with me page by page that I started to accept that our experience really was mere bad luck.
“It’s very hard to accept ‘bad luck’ as an answer,” says Aline Zoldbrod, Ph.D., a psychologist in Lexington, Mass., who specializes in women’s reproductive issues. “That means you have to admit that the world is a threatening and scary place.
“The intellectual way to cope is to gather information,” Zoldbrod adds. Sometimes you have to exhaust every resource — friends, family, clergy, counselors and physicians — to find the emotional support you need. You also have to be prepared for the possibility that there are no answers.
Liam was almost a month old when he finally came home, but it was another month before I stopped grieving and looking for someone to blame. The day my son smiled at me for the first time, I cried with happiness and finally just let the pain go.