Please click on READ MORE to see all of my story in my mom's words. I may have been small and my time on Earth was short, but I have an important story to tell. You can also find information in the last paragraph of this story and in my mom's first journal entry as to how you can help support my family in honoring my memory and when you check out that website you'll even see my mom and my brothers on video, I'm pretty proud of them; but most important of all pray for me and my mommy, daddy and brothers. They need your love & support more than anything else! "For I know The Plans I have for you," Declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a FUTURE." Jeremiah 29:11 ....Thank You for taking the time to hear my story, Baby Gabriel
April 20th has been deemed Triploidy Awareness Day by a fellow grieving mother. Mom’s of triploidy angel babies wear mint green today to celebrate the lives of their little ones taken much too soon and our family has joined this group of grieving parents. Triploidy is a genetic disease that has been deemed incompatible with life. Babies are typically born with a total of 46 chromosomes, 23 from mom and 23 from dad, but babies with triploidy have 69 chromosomes, they’ve received an entire additional set so each chromosome is tripled instead of doubled. It is very rare and most cases miscarry very early in the first trimester. In our case our little angel was not ready to go quite that early, he wanted to be with us.
We found out I was pregnant in early December 2016 and were so excited. I was very sick during the first trimester of my pregnancy, but other than that all looked well and normal. We waited until we were almost 13 weeks to share the news with our twins and they were beyond excited. They had so much love for their little sibling. The day after we shared that news I got a call that my HCG levels were 7 times higher than where they were expected to be; this was a flag for a higher order multiple pregnancy (think quads), but we knew from the beautiful 12 week ultrasound we had that I was carrying only one baby so we were flagged for triploidy instead. All the other genetic blood tests, NT scans etc had come back normal so I of course assumed it was a mistake and declined CVS. We were scheduled for an early anatomy scan at 16 weeks and during this scan we saw the worst. It broke my heart because I could clearly see just how sick our baby boy was, but at the same time he was oh so beautiful. An amnio confirmed full triploidy and my world came crashing down when I also learned about the severe health risks to me. The pregnancy was likely partial molar and my placenta was cystic, invasive and extremely large, it essentially functions like cancer. My OB did not feel I should continue to carry as he felt the risks from the placenta made a delivery at any point too risky and that paralyzed me, but thankfully our prayers for good drs were answered and we landed at HUP in Philadelphia where they were better equipped to handle our situation. We were originally sent there for a 2nd opinion, but a dr who I only met once during my ultrasound called me back a few days later and said I had been on her mind, that she was praying for me and she wanted to take care of us. I cried tears of hope and relief because she was clearly the answer to exactly what I had been praying for, she is my angel dr.
Fast forward to today, Gabriel Joseph Gunderman was born on March 30th at 7:33 pm, his soul was already perfect in heaven when he arrived. I was just shy of 19 weeks so he was very tiny weighing only 7.9ozs and 21 cms long, but he is perfect and so so beautiful. I feel so blessed to have been able to meet him and having been able to carry him almost 19 weeks. I got to feel him kick, rocked him, sang to him and he has forever touched my heart and the hearts of many others. There was not a person in that delivery room who was not personally touched by meeting our angel and so many at the hospital were moved by his story. We had so many divine interventions in this journey and our little boy’s time here has already begun to show such a beautiful and amazing purpose. My heart is broken bc I miss him so much, I loved him for is exactly who he is and to me he was perfectly made. Erik at one point said to me I’m so sorry this can’t be different for you and I looked at him and replied I wish it could be different for Gabriel, I wish there was something we could do to help heal him, but I wouldn’t want it to be different b/c I would never want a different baby. Gabriel is so special to me and a part of my heart will always be missing This journey has taught me so much about love, life and faith and I can promise I’ll love more deeply every single day bc of my baby boy. I believe he was holding on so long to save me and fighting every odd that was stacked up against him bc of the very real and serious risks to me. It is only through divine intervention we discovered all this and landed at the best hospital to care for us at the perfect time. The delivery was beautiful and we received so much love, kindess and compassion from every single person we met at HUP, words cannot describe how thankful we are for them.
It amazes me to know Gabriel is now feeling a love even greater than I could ever imagine. He was perfectly made even with all of his sickness. We are thankful for our faith and supportive family and friends. The Drs told me the risks to me were high and after what I experienced after delivering I know those risks were very very real. If I had been home or somewhere that did not know how to handle this the outcome would have been very bad. I lost a lot of blood during delivery and was taken to the OR afterwards for a procedure to stop the bleeding, but the drs were prepared and had everything under control. The physical recovery has been tough and I still have several hurdles to clear, but I have felt so much love from family, friends and the HUP team. Thank you to all those praying for me, your prayers are being answered. I have felt a peace I cannot describe after delivering my sweet boy and that peace returned to me as we had a beautiful funeral service for Gabriel this past Tuesday. I had intended to get the word out so all could attend, but time caught up with me so it was a very small service with family and a few friends. I can tell you all though that it was amazing and beautiful; small and perfect just like our Gabriel. The name Gabriel means God is my strength, we felt it only appropriate to name him after God’s angel and are thankful we were aware of how sick he was and had the time to name him. So many others are not even aware of a triploidy diagnosis until their little one has already passed. Joseph was chosen as his middle name because our boys wanted to name a baby brother Joey and a baby sister butterfly. ;) He may not be named butterfly, but we will plant a butterfly garden in his honor. We read the twins a book about an elephant family who lost a baby and the baby elephant sends butterflies as a sign of his love so it's perfect. Joshua and Jacob loved hearing that story and clearly love butterflies by their name selections. :)
It was important for me to share this story, esp today because so many who miscarry, have stillborns or lose an infant suffer in silence. So many are unable to share their story or their sorrow and this breaks my heart. So many have been told inappropriate things or been treated like their baby was not real or did not matter and that is the farthest thing from the truth. Gabriel’s time here, though very short, has left a large impact and it will continue to do so. Gabriel, thank you for teaching me about true love and faith. You have opened my heart and every day I live will be done in your honor. God’s hand protected us and was in this journey in so many ways and God gave you to us because he knew we would love you unconditionally. You are perfectly healthy in heaven and for that I am thankful, but it was still so very hard to give you back. Mommy, Daddy, Joshua and Jacob love you so much. I know you can feel that. It’s a love that is so strong no words could ever describe it. One day we will be reunited again, fly high my sweet angel, I will always love you!
*Many have asked what they can do for our family at this difficult time and your prayers and love are most important and so appreciated so please keep them coming! However, if you are able we would love for you to donate to Reach Beyond Education in Gabriel’s honor (PLEASE use Reach's website www.reacheducationalservices.com to donate directly to the 501C3 to make sure it goes to Reach or we can gladly help you get the donation to them if that is easier), honestly no amount is too small. They are a charity providing services to special needs and have provided us so much support through the years with our boys. Currently they are doing so much to help the twins get through their grief and we’d be lost without them. I also have no doubt had Gabriel been able to survive and had the less severe mosaic form of triploidy they would have provided us an abundance of support to manage through the unique challenges of a rare genetic disorder. The website to check out the organization is www.reacheducationalservices.com Thank you for your support*