It’s been a long time since I’ve given this blog any attention. Life gets in the way. There’s work and parenting and housework and family and friends and volunteering and just no time to gather my thoughts for this blog. But now I need to make time. So much is going on, I need to get some of it out of my head.
Exactly six years ago today I wrote this post on my old blog. It was an awful story to have to write, but it had to be shared. I had to get it out of my head. Yesterday, after a particularly scary doctor’s appointment, I felt all of those old feelings and fears resurfacing.
You see, Glenn and I are expecting again. A baby girl. She’s due June 10, 2014. We’re ecstatic. Especially me. It took me about a year (probably more) to get over the miscarriage, but ever since then I’ve been desperate to have another baby. Unfortunately, not long after I was ready to move on, I learned that I had a condition called PCOS, which was going to make getting pregnant again difficult.
For years I took the approach of just hoping that things would work themselves out and I’d get pregnant. No such luck. Finally, about a year ago, I heard my biological clock mercilessly ticking louder and louder, so I took matters into my own hands and found a new doc that could help move things along. I was poked and prodded, underwent uncomfortable tests, took several rounds of Chlomid (an ovulation inducing fertility drug), got a shot of hormones in my butt, and peed on countless ovulation and pregnancy tests all with the same ultimate result: negative. I was ovulating but not getting pregnant.
So… maybe I wasn’t the entire problem. It was Glenn’s turn to undergo the uncomfortable testing. Turns out, he’s not the picture of perfect reproductive health either. Now we were fighting a battle on two fronts. But we were proactive. We worked with the experts and came up with a plan that everyone had high hopes would work. And then Glenn lost his job at the end of July so we could no longer justify spending money we didn’t have on more tests and doctor’s visits.
Then, somehow, miraculously, I discovered I was pregnant in October. Amazing. We were shocked and overjoyed. But I’m older this time around and the pregnancy isn’t going as smoothly as we had hoped.
My first trimester (and then some) was pretty awful. I had terrible morning sickness around the clock and endured a couple of truly mortifying episodes of public vomiting at the worst possible times. I caught a cold, which turned into six weeks of bronchitis. I had a kidney stone. The exhaustion was ridiculous. But I was happy to endure it all if it meant we were finally going to add another little one to our family.
We waited until I had undergone two positive ultrasounds (one at 7 weeks to check for viability and the usual one at 12 weeks) before we shared our news. Our family and friends are all so excited. They know how long we’ve been waiting for this.
Tucker was thrilled to learn he was going to be a big brother. He told us he never thought it would happen. And despite the nearly nine year age difference, we think he’s going to be awesome at it. His little sister will be lucky to have him.
Everything was going wonderfully until we went in for our level 2 ultrasound last week at 19 weeks. I went into the appointment nervous but hopeful and excited to find out whether we were having a boy or a girl. (I suspected a girl.) But while the ultrasound tech was working I could tell something wasn’t right. She kept going back to try and get a better look at the heart over and over again. She told us we were having a girl and finished up, but then came back in and asked if she could have one of her colleagues take a look.
Yep. Something was not looking right with the baby’s heart. I was devastated. We met with the fetal medicine doc and genetic counselor to go over the results. All the doc kept saying was that they were seeing some asymmetry in the heart and “see what I’m sayin’.” He was not remotely helpful. The genetic counselor was more helpful and explained that they get concerned that with any structural abnormality there is a chance the cause is a chromosome disorder like Down Syndrome or worse (Trisomy 13 or 18, which are often fatal).
The next step was to schedule another ultrasound and a fetal echocardiogram at 22 weeks (3 weeks away), when we would meet with a fetal cardiologist and get a better idea of what we might be dealing with. In order to get some answers between now and the next ultrasound, I also opted for a blood test (Verify) that could tell us with relative certainty whether or not our baby has any of the aforementioned chromosome disorders.
And so the waiting began. I left the clinic terrified and in tears, I had a hard time even getting excited about the news we were having a girl.
Glenn was optimistic (as always) that everything would be fine and all of this would end up being a big scare for nothing and so were our friends and family. So I started to calm down (a little bit) and did my best to be hopeful too.
Then Sunday night I fell down the stairs into the basement, really hard and really fast. Fortunately, I bounced the whole way down on my butt and never rolled onto my stomach. But it was terrifying. Stupidly, I didn’t call the emergency OB line right away and waited until morning. They told me to come into the clinic for monitoring, which I did. But the nurse at the clinic wasn’t having much luck monitoring the baby’s heartbeat, so they sent me to the hospital. Again, I was terrified. I spent about four hours at the hospital with a lovely nurse who monitored the baby’s heartbeat and my uterus to see if I was having contractions. The baby was doing fine and my blood work came back normal, so after a stern warning by the on-call OB to call right away next time no matter what, I was sent home.
Which brings us to yesterday, the six year anniversary of my miscarriage. Generally, it’s not a great day for me anyway, but yesterday was much worse than usual. I went to my regularly scheduled prenatal appointment, where my OB went over the notes from last week’s level two ultrasound with me in more detail. She was very concerned both about the description of the baby’s possible heart abnormalities and another abnormality that the “so you see what I’m sayin’” doc and friends had failed to discuss with us.
This second abnormality is called micrognathia, which is basically a chin that is underdeveloped. It’s a marker for the trisomy 13 and 18 chromosome disorders. So that combined with the heart abnormalities made my doc very concerned that we were looking at a real possibility of one of the trisomy disorders. She explained that either of these would mean that the baby might not survive the pregnancy, or would not survive long after birth. I cannot begin to describe how awful it was to hear these words out loud. She discussed with me that if either of these turned out to be the case, I’d have to decide whether to continue the pregnancy or deliver early (which means our baby woudn’t survive).
I asked if, based on what she saw on the ultrasound and pending the blood test results, there was any chance that our baby wouldn’t have these problems and would be healthy. She said in her opinion, there was very little chance that we weren’t at the very least facing a serious congenital heart defect. I was devastated. The rest of the appointment felt like she was just going through the motions of listening to the baby’s heartbeat and measuring my uterus, as if there was no point to any of that.
Again, I left the clinic terrified and in tears. When I finally made it to my car in the parking ramp, I sat there sobbing for God only knows how long. I couldn’t go back to work in that state, so I drove myself home sobbing uncontrollably all the way. I was such a mess I couldn’t even tell Glenn what was going on for quite some time. After reliving it all again for him, he calmed me down as best he could while waiting to see if the blood test results would come back.
Of course, I hadn’t been out of the clinic for more than a couple of hours and the results of my blood work came back. My doctor called me right away to let me know that my results were normal, which means it is very unlikely (not impossible, but unlikely) that Baby Girl has Down Syndrome or either of the terrifying trisome chromosome disorders. The genetic counselor called a short time later to confirm the results and answer any questions I had.
I can’t adequately explain what a huge relief this is after all of the scary information I was given at the doctor’s appointment earlier in the day. For the several hours between what I had thought would be a run of the mill prenatal appointment and the results of that blood work, I was already grieving for the loss of our Baby Girl. (Exactly six years to the day I was experiencing all over again what feels like “The Worst Thing”.) Thankfully, the results of the blood test means all of that fear and panic was largely unnecessary – though very, very real while it was happening.
And now the waiting continues. I’m so relieved to virtually cross the chromosome disorder worry off my list, but the fact remains we still don’t know what’s going on with Baby Girl’s heart. There is a very real likelihood that we’re facing a complex congenital heart defect, but we won’t know until that appointment on February 5.
For now all we can do is hope and pray that everything will turn out fine. In the meantime, I’ll be grateful for every little kick I feel and do my best to make our Baby Girl as strong as she can be.
(Wow. That was hard to write. I think I’m done now for a while.)