A Trisomy 10 and Trisomy 21 Angel

When Covid hit our state of California, my husband’s field of work folded because he couldn’t work from home. We feared losing our house, so we decided to sell it instead and travel the country, living in an RV. Unconventional? For sure! Incredible? Without a doubt! Six months into traveling, I discovered we had a stowaway on board! Our fourth baby was coming, and we could not have been more excited. I told my husband he would be a papa again as we walked the shore of Myrtle Beach, SC. We both cried and rejoiced cautiously because we knew loss. We had six miscarriages spaced between our three living children. But I felt good! I had no doubt that this baby was the final piece to our family. And then we found out he was a boy! Our older son, who’d played his fair share of dolls and dress up with his sisters, would get a Tonka-loving brother! He was over the moon, to say the least! We lived in bliss for several months, taking all the bump pictures along our route and planning where we would want our son to be born. Every time we arrived at a new beach, we seemed to end the evening by seeing a jellyfish. It would be in the waves, we’d see it washed up on shore or we would brush against it as we snorkeled (thankfully just the non-stinging moon jellies!). We always laughed at this phenomenon, and we started to say it was our boy making himself known before he could be out playing in the sand with all of us. 

Then, I started to bleed. We were in Jacksonville, FL, and I panicked. I knew what comes next. It had happened so many times before. But this time was different. I went to a doctor I found through our insurance, and they scanned me. There was my boy! Alive and kicking, heart beating beautifully on the screen. Perhaps I had a hematoma, but “let’s run some tests.” I was considered “advanced maternal age,” so I obliged. A few weeks later, the results came back. Walker Sullivan was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 and Trisomy 10. Incompatible with life. We were all devastated. But he was there, beating heart and all. How could this be? I wanted so badly not to believe it. 

When he stopped growing due to Trisomy 10, and we lost him, I thought our family was complete on such a painful note. I was almost 39, had experienced now 7 losses, and we were living in our RV. He was gone, and I was broken. For the next year, our family grieved our boy as we traveled the country in our RV together, spending countless days and hours on both coast’s beaches. It seemed we never failed to be met by a jellyfish after playing in the waves or the sand. After a while, it became clear that jellyfish were Walker’s way of being with us. We eventually settled into a house, and on the one-year anniversary of losing Walker, I very unexpectedly found out I was pregnant…and due on my 40th birthday. Elaine was born in October, and her name means, “my God has heard my prayer.” He did. He heard my wailing and my pain. He also heard my love for the little boy we lost. And he heard the heart of the mother that needed this little girl. So, I suppose my story is about my angel, Walker, but also about my God, who has a way of redeeming dates, memories, and pain. 

I didn’t get to know my boy in this life, but I look forward to holding him in heaven. For Walker, I think of jellyfish and campers. I know he would have loved both. And because I don’t have a picture of him, here’s a picture of his siblings with the first jellyfish we found, the day I told his papa he was in my belly; one of his little sister the day she was born, with his weighted bear; one of all of his siblings visiting the jellyfish at the aquarium; and one of his baby sister visiting his favorite place for the first time (and yes, we saw jellyfish this day, too!)

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