In 2015, 32-year-old Claire Cullen-Delsol was excited to learn she was pregnant with her third child.
Claire and her husband Wayne were already parents to Clara, seven, and Nathan, one, and while this pregnancy wasn’t expected, it was warmly welcomed. They were having a baby girl.
It was a sunny day in August when Claire rushed home from work to attend her 22 week scan. Her husband, mum and two kids came to the hospital with her, and waited outside while her midwife performed an ultrasound. Offhandedly, and without any sense of concern, Claire asked if everything was alright.
“No,” the midwife responded. “There are a few things I actually need to look at.”
In a diary entry from that day, Claire wrote that she moved to another room to have a second scan. This time, Wayne accompanied her, and they both sat in silence. “As the midwife scans me, I study her face for a flicker of a smile or relief. There’s none,” she wrote. As the midwife started to speak, Claire recalled how she listened “in terror, with tears running down my face.”
There were cysts on the placenta, missing bones in the baby’s face, overlapping digits, bilateral clefts, spots on the heart and issues with the baby’s brain development and kidneys.
There was talk of a chromosomal disorder, so once at home, Claire started to Google what that meant. The phrases that stuck out to her the most were, "Rarely results in live births," "Incompatible with life," and "Fatal".
Almost two weeks later, Claire and Wayne were finally given conclusive answers about their baby's condition. It was mid-afternoon on a day in late August when a midwife told Claire over the phone that her unborn baby daughter had Patau syndrome - a chromosome-based, rare genetic disorder associated with severe intellectual disability and physical abnormalities.
The following day, a doctor explained that it was expected Claire and Wayne's daughter would not be born alive. If she was, she would only live for a few hours.