Still Looking Pretty Good

So, we had our latest ultrasound yesterday, at 24w4d, about 2.5 weeks since the last one. I was really nervous leading up to it, though not as bad as last time. I stayed up playing Star Wars until 5am, when Christopher’s alarm went off and I realized I should probably try to get some sleep. But it worked, because for whatever reason the anxiety is way worse the day of than the day before, so by staying up so late, and sleeping until it was basically time to go to the appointment, I kept it much more manageable.

Anyway, the way these appointments work, I have the ultrasound first, and the tech doesn’t really say a ton, since she can’t compare to previous ultrasounds or anything, and then afterwards we meet with the high risk OB, Dr. Carroll, and she goes over the results with us. The ultrasound itself was pretty neat. They wanted us to be on the same machine, with the same tech, etc, to minimize the margin of error on the measurements, and I really like this tech. She’s really cheery and friendly, and takes the time to tell us what we’re looking at most of the time. It’s pretty hard to tell on a lot if you’re not trained to understand ultrasound images. She switched to 4D a few times to get some better images, so we were able to really see baby girl’s face. She had her hand up by her eye, and she was smiling!

It’s weird, because I had originally planned to have minimal ultrasounds, and at one point even considered having none, though I decided against that. I don’t think they’re dangerous or bad, but I do think they’re relatively under-studied, and I didn’t see the point in taking any risks by having extra just to see her more. I particularly had no intention of ever having a 4D, since I didn’t know of any medical reason why we’d need one, and I didn’t like the thought of having the sound waves just focused on her head for extended times, just to see her face. Now here I am getting ultrasounds no less than once a month, and they do 4D for at least part of the time (not long) on them all so far. Funny how plans change. Then again, I was planning a completely natural, med-free birth with midwives attending, and a doula, and using the Bradley Method, all of which is pretty much out of the window now, so I shouldn’t really be surprised at how much plans can change. (Yes, it is still possible that I could have at least a vaginal birth, and possibly a natural one, but it’s unlikely. She’ll probably need to come early, and it’ll probably be better for her if they skip the compression in the birth canal and trauma of birth. Even if they do decide to let us go for a vaginal birth, we’ll probably need an induction (it’s really unlikely that as first time mom I’ll go into labor on my own early enough), which means some meds, and inductions are typically much more painful and vastly increase the chances that I’ll want to go ahead with an epidural.)

Okay, got really off track there. So, ultrasound results. The main thing, of course, is her ventricle size. They have grown, a little, probably. Which is pretty vague, unfortunately. They measured, I think, 17mm and 19mm last time. This time it was about 18 and 21. However, that difference is within the margin of error for the machine, so theoretically they may not have grown at all. Realistically, I think they probably have, but definitely not much. This means, at the very least, if things continue as they’re going, we’ll have no real problems making the 34 week minimum we’re aiming for, and could probably go farther.

I’m not sure I was as clear as I should have been about the 34 weeks thing last time. I said that before that, the risks of prematurity are worse than the risks of allowing her hydrocephalus to continue to grow, which is true, but it’s a bit more than that. Prior to that point, the neurosurgeon said that even if she were born, they wouldn’t be able to operate. She wouldn’t be big or strong enough yet. So bringing her out before 34 weeks isn’t just risky, it’s essentially useless and just puts her in a situation where she has to fight through the dangers of prematurity and her condition.

Which is why I’m so freaking paranoid about preterm labor. We have made it to viability (!!) now that we’re at 24 weeks. However, at 24 weeks the odds are only something like 50/50, and with her condition they would likely be much lower. So it’s very important to keep her inside for as long as possible. I discussed it with the OB again, and she confirmed that my cervix still looks totally normal, with no warning signs for preterm labor, though it will start shortening naturally in the next few weeks, so that will stop being a good indicator soon. She also still thinks the Braxton Hicks I’m having are totally normal, and no cause for concern. And she went over again what signs and changes to look for that would warrant a call or visit. Unfortunately for my comfort and peace of mind, she says I’m basically just a “contractor” (emphasis on the second syllable, not the first), so I should just consider the current level of contracting my “normal”, and watch for any deviations from that baseline.

As for the rest of the ultrasound results- her cerebellum is still measuring behind, but it is growing. It’s not on the percentile charts, but it’s mirroring it perfectly, so that’s good. (Also, the chart for cerebellum growth is much more random looking than other types, more wiggly lines that have a general curve than the perfect smooth curve that you see normally. So seeing some variation in cerebellum growth is pretty normal, her’s is just a bit more extreme.) The rest of her growth is perfectly matching the charts, and she’s still sitting right around the 30-35th percentile.

She is still breech, which is why she’s kicking my bladder ALL. THE. TIME. But the doctor says that at this point only about 30% of babies are head down, so that’s normal and there’s a very good chance she’ll flip. Not that it matters terribly if we go the c-section route, but being breech would pretty much eliminate any chance of avoiding the c-section. They’re not going to want to take any additional risks, for obvious reasons.

Oh, and she is still a girl. 🙂 I had them check to be sure.

They drew some blood to screen for infections to see if that’s what’s causing her problems, since we still have really no idea. The good news is that she’s showing no other markers for it being an infection, and I’ve already screened clear for a couple of them, so it’ll probably all come back negative (infection can be very bad, so we definitely don’t want that to be the cause). The bad news is that all negatives will mean we still have no clue what’s going on to cause all this. I’m not sure what the next step will be for determining cause, since it’s still more important to deal with the problems than figure out why they’re happening.

In other news, I won’t be seeing the midwives anymore. They just aren’t equipped to deal with high risk situations, and they certainly don’t handle c-sections. I’ll see a regular OB for my care, which won’t be more than a few appointments, and continue seeing the doctors at the fetal center for monitoring baby’s condition, and they’ll be the ones who will handle the birth. I have my first appointment with the new OB on the 3rd, for my glucose screening. Hooray. >_<

Other than that, things are going well with us. The house is getting very close to finished, with only a few boxes left to unpack, and the kitchen left to paint. Our 5 year anniversary is tomorrow, so we’re planning to do some fun stuff for the weekend, starting with dinner out tonight. Honestly, I don’t know exactly what our plans are, because he keeps changing them, so I guess we’ll see! Pretty sure the Renaissance Festival and the new X-Men movie are on the agenda, and probably a trip to at least Huntsville to go to our favorite restaurant. May be heading to Atlanta for a Braves game as well, but pretty sure Christopher is really underestimating the number of times I’ll have to stop and pee on a trip that long. 🙂 No matter what, we’ll definitely have some fun!

And very last thing, isn’t she beautiful?!

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Gender Predictions, From the Wives’ Tales

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For those who want a little help deciding on their vote, here’s what the wives’ tales have to say about what Baby Spooky Smith is. 🙂 (Note- I got this list off of a random message board online. So, sorry if it’s copied from someone.)

Old Wives Tale #1: Heart Rate
If the baby’s heart rate is above 140 bpm, it is said that the baby will be a girl. If it is under 140 bpm, then it will be a boy. Ours started high, in the 160’s, but dropped steadily for a while and is now usually sitting right around 140.

Prediction outcome: Questionable, but mostly GIRL

Old Wives Tale #2: Shape of Belly
If you are carrying high with a big, round belly, you are having a girl. If you are carrying low with a smaller belly that sticks straight out, it’s a boy. I’m not a good judge, but I feel like I’m carrying very low (and baby is definitely hanging out low based on kicks and things).

Prediction outcome: BOY

Old Wives Tale #3: Ring Test
Using a string, hang your wedding ring over your pregnant belly. You are having a girl if the ring swings back and forth and it’s a boy if it swings in a circle. Honestly, I don’t like this one because it’s too easy to rig.

Prediction outcome: INCONCLUSIVE

Old Wives Tale #4: Acne
If you have acne while pregnant, it’s a girl. It’s thought that acne during pregnancy is caused by the extra hormones. I’m not sure it’s actually worse now, but it sure as heck isn’t any better.

Prediction outcome: GIRL

Old Wives Tale #5: Cravings
People believe that if you are craving salty foods while pregnant, you can count on having a boy. If you crave sweets, fruit, and orange juice, you are having a little girl. What about spicy? That’s what I really want. But overall more sweets than salty.

Prediction outcome: GIRL

Old Wives Tale #6: Skin under Left Eye
The eye test is when a “V” or “branches” appear when you pull down the skin under your left eye. If you see a “V” or “branches” in the white part, you’re having a girl. This one is super weird.

Prediction outcome: BOY

Old Wives Tale #7: Time of Conception
The person that is most aggressive in bed at the time of conception is the opposite of what the baby will be. A- TMI, B- How can I know for sure exactly when conception occurred, and C- I don’t even remember.

Prediction outcome: INCONCLUSIVE

Old Wives Tale #8: Legs
If your legs get really big, you’re having a boy. If your legs stay in shape and lean, it’s a girl. I have fairly large legs to begin with (buying boots that fit my calves is obnoxiously difficult), but so far they’ve stayed the same as best as I can tell.

Prediction outcome: GIRL

Old Wives Tale #9: Moodiness (this one is odd, but funny)
If you are really moody, you are having a girl since you have another extra girl hormones in you. Your pregnancy will make you smile and be more happy if you are having a boy because there’s a little penis inside you. I’d say I’ve been having massive mood swings more than anything. Super happy one minute, crying meltdown over nothing the next. So both?

Prediction outcome: INCONCLUSIVE

Old Wives Tale #10: Chinese Gender Chart
The Chinese Gender Chart claims to have an accuracy rate of over 90%. It is based on how old the mother is at conception and the month that she conceived.

Prediction outcome: GIRL

Old Wives Tale #11: Mom’s Beauty
Basically you are having a girl if your beauty disappears during pregnancy. It is said that the girl “steals” the mother’s beauty. If you think that pregnancy has never made you look more beautiful, a little boy it is. I’m not sure how to tell on this one, since Christopher’s not dumb enough to tell me I look less pretty than usual, and I feel more confident and love how I look pregnant, but that doesn’t mean I actually look better.

Prediction outcome: BOY

Old Wives Tale #12: Dream of Sex of Baby
If you have dreams that you are having a boy, you will have a girl. If you dream about having a girl, it will be a boy. Dreams show the opposite of what you are having. I’ve actually read that real studies show that dreams are more likely to be right, but we’ll go with the wives’ tale since that’s what this list is.The only dreams I’ve had have been about a boy.

Prediction outcome: GIRL

Old Wives Tale #13: Clumsy vs. Graceful
If the pregnant woman is graceful throughout her pregnancy, she’s having a girl. If she becomes clumsy, she’s having a boy. Not sure I’m actually any more clumsy than usual, but definitely not graceful.

Prediction outcome: BOY

Old Wives Tale #14: Side You Most Rest On
If a pregnant woman prefers to lay on her left side, she’s having a boy. If she prefers resting on her right side, she’s having a girl. Right side gives me heartburn every time!

Prediction outcome: BOY

Old Wives Tale #15: Dad’s Weight Gain
If the dad-to-be gains weight while you are pregnant, it’s a girl. If he doesn’t gain weight, you’re having a boy. So far, no noticable changes.

Prediction outcome: BOY

Old Wives Tale #16: Breast Test
If a pregnant woman’s left breast is larger than the right breast, she’s having a girl. If the right breast is larger, it’s a boy. I can’t tell if one is bigger than the other. They’re both just huge.

Prediction outcome: INCONCLUSIVE

Old Wives Tale #17: What Do You Think?
71% of the time, the mom-to-be knows what she is having. Again, I’ve read the actual studies show more like 55% of the time, but I’ve mostly been leaning towards boy.

Prediction outcome: BOY

Old Wives Tale #18: Morning Sickness
If you had a smooth pregnancy with no morning sickness, it’s a boy. If you were sick or felt really nauseous during your pregnancy, count on a girl. Aside from random gagging/heaving at weird smells, I’ve been great.

Prediction outcome: BOY

Old Wives Tale #19: Areolae
If your areolae (the part around your nips) have darkened, it’s a boy. If they haven’t, its a girl.This is just a normal part of pregnancy, and not related to gender, but I’ll go with it.

Prediction outcome: BOY

Old Wives Tale #20: Protein
When a pregnant woman craves meat and cheese, count on a boy. Initially I wanted meat all the time, now, not so much. So…?

Prediction outcome: INCONCLUSIVE

Old Wives Tale #21: Feet
Are your feet colder now that you are pregnant? If so, you just might be having a boy. If your feet have stayed the same before pregnancy and during, you’re having a little girl. Always had a tendency towards cold feet, so no real change.

Prediction outcome: GIRL

Old Wives Tale #22: Headaches
If you are having headaches, you might be carrying a boy. All. the. time.

Prediction outcome: BOY

Old Wives Tale #23: Baby Names
It is said that when you can only think of specific names for a boy or a girl, you will have that particularly baby. We can’t come up with a boy name to save our lives!

Prediction outcome: GIRL

Old Wives Tale #24: Urine
What color is your pee? If it is bright yellow, you will have a little boy. If your urine is a dull yellow, plan on a girl. Varies, based on how hydrated I am, just like normal.

Prediction outcome: INCONCLUSIVE

 

Totals-

GIRL- 8

BOY- 10

What do you think? Do you believe the wives’ tales?

Longest. Day. Ever.

So, yesterday was our big follow up with the Maternal-Fetal Medicine office. And it was one hell of an emotional roller coaster. Warning, this is going to be long, so be prepared. We saw 5 doctors, two ultrasound techs, and got a LOT of information. Also, I’m not recapping everything here, to save space, so you may want to start with the post explaining the results we had 2 weeks ago. You can find that here.

I didn’t sleep hardly at all the night before. I managed to keep the worrying and freaking out to a minimum during the 2 weeks of waiting, but knowing that it might be my last night of still having hope that we were going to have this baby had me stressed completely out. We both stayed up till midnight watching Agents of SHIELD, and then when he went to bed I stayed up playing Star Wars until 3:45 or so, when I thought I was finally tired enough to just fall asleep and not lay there wide awake.

Anyway, our first appointment was at 10, with the Genetics Counselor. (Also, side note- the office was in a former mall, the mall where I had my first date almost 15 years ago, so that was super weird.) She walked us through various genetic problems that could be causing the issues that showed up on our first ultrasound. She had the results from the blood screening they did, and it showed essentially negative for any trisomies. (I say essentially because it can only give odds, but it was 1/20,000 for Downs, and even lower for the other two.) That was good news, since the other two are fatal. She also explained some other possibilities that it could be. That’s probably the one part of the day when taking notes would have been helpful, since I don’t remember it as well. But it also is really the least important part, since our main concern is what’s going on with baby, not why. We also discussed having an amniocentesis, since that would give us a better idea what was going on. She was super, super positive about everything. Screening negative for the trisomies was apparently just great news, and the others were super unlikely, and she was pretty much just expecting the ultrasound to show that the first one was wrong and everything was fine. Honestly, I’m pretty unhappy about that. I’m all for being positive, but her attitude was just unrealistically hopeful for our situation. I think she should have gotten a clearer picture from our doctor first, and tempered her optimism a bit. Still, it was better than the next doctor.

After talking to her, we moved over to an ultrasound room. The tech was very nice, and we were able to find out the baby’s sex! (No, not telling yet!) Unfortunately, baby was apparently snoozing, so she did have a little trouble getting all the shots she needed (which wound up being very significant later). She poked baby and had me cough and stuff, but s/he was having nothing to do with it. (And in case you’re worried, I felt plenty of movement later when s/he woke up, so that wasn’t a cause for concern.) Unrelated to everything, I did confirm that I have an anterior placenta, which normally means feeling little to no movement until much later than average, so I’m really curious now why I’ve been feeling so much. Definitely since no later than 16 weeks, and it’s been consistently frequent for at least a month (22 weeks today). The tech was really surprised when I told her that. When she was finished she gave us some pictures (finally got some shots that actually looked like a baby!), couple cute, “potty shot” confirming sex, and one super creepy skull shot cause why not. 🙂

After that (and waiting around for a while), we met with a high risk OB. She, I am actually pretty angry at, and will probably be contacting their office to complain about. She was unbelievably negative. We basically walked out of there debating when to schedule a termination and considering whether we should start looking into IVF or adoption, and whether I should start thinking about going back to school and getting a career, if kids were starting to look unlikely. Seriously. To give her some credit, the shots they got on that ultrasound didn’t show all the parts of the baby’s brain developing correctly, or even being present. Her interpretation of what she saw basically amounted to- the lower parts of the brain, which regulate breathing, heart rate, etc. were there. Baby would live. But nothing else was right. Baby would have no higher cognitive function whatsoever. S/he would have a lower quality of life than our dogs (no, she didn’t actually say that verbatim). When we asked her about the amnio that we’d discussed with the genetics counselor, she basically said don’t bother. The clear implication was why do an amnio today when we can do an autopsy next week. Now, to be fair, I wouldn’t have wanted her to give us false hope if that were truly the case. But remember what I said about baby snoozing, and the tech not getting all the best shots? Yeah, how about next time you remember that, lady? She should have kept that in mind, and reminded us of it, when she was discussing results.

At this point they called over to the Fetal Center at the Children’s Hospital to see if we could meet with some people there. They said they could probably work us in, so we headed that way with a stop off for some lunch. It was 12:30 at that point, though to be honest after that bad news we weren’t really hungry. That time after meeting with that doctor, and before meeting with anyone else, was the worst part of the day. We were honestly confused as to why we were even bothering going to meet with a pediatric neurosurgeon if there was no hope. Poor Christopher. I didn’t want to break down until we got home, and my way of avoiding that mostly involved yelling a lot (even it if was just what I wanted from Taco Bell). I also in the span of 10 seconds told him not to talk to me (he was trying to discuss serious stuff that was upsetting), and then immediately told him to keep talking only he needed to make a joke (like he wasn’t upset too, not like joking was high on his fun list right then). I kept thinking of things like how much Christmas would suck knowing it should have been baby’s first Christmas, and then forcing myself to think of something else. I was really dreading the thought of tomorrow, May 4th, the one year anniversary of my first positive pregnancy test, when there was apparently still no baby on the horizon. I did make Christopher spend some time discussing Agents of SHIELD with me, and read a baking blog.

Anyway, the first thing they did at the fetal center was another ultrasound. At this point baby was more cooperative (probably the caffeine from the Dr. Pepper), and they got way more shots of the head/brain. It was difficult though. I didn’t like seeing the baby on the screen, thinking that s/he wasn’t going to make it. The tech also wasn’t aware of what was going on, so she was all cheerful and asking if we wanted pictures and stuff. Um no, thanks. Actually, I kind of wish we’d taken them now, but not like I won’t have more opportunities soon.

Once the ultrasound was finished, and we waited for a while, we met with a pediatric neurosurgeon. Actually, he was THE guy in the country that everyone turns to for questions on treating hydrocephalus in infants. So that was nice, to feel like we were definitely talking to someone who knew what he was talking about. He explained what would be done after birth. Basically, with how things are looking now, I’d probably carry to term, around 37 to 39 weeks, at which point baby would come on out and they’d either place a shunt (a tube that would run from the overfilled ventricles in the brain all the way to baby’s abdomen, where it would drain the fluid), or do an ETV, which would basically have the same result but without the permanent plastic tube in his/her body. He also explained that the brain is like a sponge, it can be compressed quite a bit, and when the pressure is removed, basically spring back into position. Which is not to say that all the compression going on wouldn’t do any damage, but that there would still be a lot of opportunity for growth to rebound after birth and to at least give baby a good chance. He couldn’t say what the long-term prognosis would really look like, just because there’s so much variation in individual responses to these things. He did confirm that there would be some issues with development, no matter what. When dealing with “high moderate” hydrocephalus, which we are, there’s always some delays. They could be relatively mild, they could be somewhat severe, but likely they’d be moderate. Probably more than just hitting milestones late and needing a little tutoring in school, but s/he probably would go to school and be pretty darn functional.

Keeping in mind, of course, that all of this is based on things staying about where they are and not worsening. If the ventricles do keep growing, hitting around 30-40mm (currently around 20), they would recommend a c-section around 34 weeks. That’s when the risks of prematurity would cease to outweigh the benefits of early intervention. The treatment would be the same, ETV or shunt, and baby would probably be in the NICU till around the original due date, so a month or two. In that case, we don’t really know what the damage might look like. It could be more severe, but since they’d be able to intervene sooner, baby would have those extra two months of development without the hydrocephalus. And if things get drastically worse, with the ventricles growing up into the 50, 60 or more range, then we’re probably looking at no hope at all. Baby would either simply wouldn’t survive, or we’d consider going to a state that allowed later termination, because at that point we really would be looking at the prognosis described by the first OB. There would be no quality of life possible.

But! It’s really not looking bad right now. After the neurosurgeon, we met with another high risk OB. She actually walked us through the various ultrasound images and showed us where the ventricles were compressing what parts of the brain, and confirmed that all the parts are there. She also checked to confirm, and the ventricles are actually somewhere around 17mm and 19mm, not quite at 20. That’s not hugely significant, because anything over 15 is still “moderate,” so it didn’t change our risk category. But it does mean they’re just a little better, and more importantly, unless there’s a really huge margin for error on the first ultrasound, there’s no way they got worse in the intervening two weeks. And that’s really important, because of all the things in the last paragraph. She also looked over the results for everything else on the two new ultrasounds, and said that all the developmental concerns from the first were just wrong. Baby’s head is somewhere in the 35th percentile, not 95th. Everything is developing at a consistent rate, rather than the drastic differences between head, body, and limbs that we saw at first. And the kidneys are not distended outside of a normal range. She discussed birth options a little more (likely c-section, but it is possible that if baby’s head is normal sized at full term that we could attempt a vaginal birth), and that sort of thing. She also suggested we meet with the head of the NICU, who thankfully was willing to come down to meet us when he finished with what he was currently working on.

So we went back to waiting for a little while, and had some time to discuss things. Both of our heads were whirling from the complete 180 on the prognosis. Christopher was still feeling pretty down, and didn’t feel like what we’d heard was enough to think it would be safe to carry to term. Like I said, that first doctor was REALLY negative. And he was right to say that the neurosurgeon would have had a bias, since his whole job is to save babies. He simply wouldn’t be thinking in terms of whether a baby was worth saving. But I was feeling pretty much 100% better. I knew (know) I could handle a baby that was simply special needs, and not basically a vegetable. But holy wow it was so confusing, trying to completely change what I was thinking in such a short time.

The head of the NICU was our favorite doctor of the day. He had the best “bedside manner” and was just really encouraging, without being, I think, unrealistically optimistic. He was able to give us an idea of what all of it really means. He explained that they would do the shunt probably the day after birth (birth is traumatic enough for one day), and that baby would be able to come home as soon as s/he was eating, breathing, and staying warm on his/her own, so probably fairly quickly (assuming we carried to term). S/he would be pretty much just like a normal baby early on. The TN early intervention people, who would help with physical therapy and that sort of thing, would probably want to start doing physical assessments around 3 months. Assessments for intellectual and social development would probably come a little later, and we probably wouldn’t get a good picture of what kind of cognitive delays there were until closer to a year or later (since early on they’re not doing a lot of intellectual stuff). Some of his neuro doctors would probably handle that, in conjunction with our pediatrician. They would make sure we knew what to look for and keep track of, and help us with what to work on. He also mentioned that since hydrocephalus in babies is most commonly found in conjunction with spina bifida, it’s very encouraging that baby’s spine is totally normal. He also brought up the fact that they would strongly encourage/support breastfeeding, which is a little thing but it’s something I want SO badly, which the NICU can interfere with, so it just really made me happy to hear. I’m so grateful we are working with doctors that are 100% supportive of things like breastfeeding and natural birth if possible and just aren’t anything like those negative stereotypes of doctors who try to discourage those things and jump right into elective c-sections and formula supplementation, etc.

Anyway, that was our last doctor of the day, finishing up around 5-5:30. So, long day. Thankfully, Christopher was incredibly reassured by him, and was at that point fully with me on the “we can do this, it’s not hopeless” attitude. We both felt (and still feel) so, SO relieved. It’s not over yet. The ventricles could keep growing and it could end very badly. But we actually can feel hopeful now, and the lack of growth over the last two weeks really makes me feel that, even if they do get bigger, it won’t be fast enough that we can’t just go the delivery at 34 weeks route. I do think this will have a happy ending, even if it’s a far from perfect one. I woke up this morning and thought, “holy crap, I’m having a baby!” It was the same sort of shocked excitement I had with that first positive pregnancy test. After all the stress of the last two weeks, and a morning spent thinking that I only had a few more days of pregnancy left, with no baby at the end of it, just knowing that there’s still plenty of hope is the best feeling. They’ll probably continue some testing to try to see if a cause for all of it can be established, but it may just wind up being something we’ll never know. And I’ll continue to have ultrasounds every 2-4 weeks, to monitor things.

Like I mentioned above, we did find out the baby’s sex. (And no, still not telling yet.) I know that it’s a little weird to have JUST written about why we’re not finding out, and then turning around and finding out, but we had our reasons. Basically, if the news was all bad, and baby wasn’t going to make it, we did not want that surprise when s/he was essentially stillborn. And if the news was good, I wanted to know to help me bond with baby better, to help counter all the scary unknowns. Plus, the birth isn’t likely to be what I was picturing. Baby will probably get swept away to the NICU pretty quickly, so better that I can focus on him/her immediately and not be trying to process the news of the gender as well. We’re having a small gender reveal party tomorrow night with family, with a cake (white on outside, pink or blue inside), and we’ll be doing some little fun things like taking votes on what s/he is before the reveal. I’m excited. I was a bit sad that being team green meant no gender reveal, so this is my tradeoff for losing the little fun things I was looking forward to. And after that, then I’ll post on here what s/he is!

This has been my reminder to stay hopeful during the last two weeks of stressing and not knowing, and it looks like maybe my songs of joy are here, or at least coming soon! (And yes, it’s a bible verse, and yes, I’m not religious. It’s still pretty and comforting and applicable, just like any quote from any book can be.)

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The Post I Wanted To Write

I had a post in mind for after my anatomy scan. Sort of a “state of the pregnancy” and I would include the cute little picture from the ultrasound, all that. Well, obviously, things didn’t go quite as planned, but I think I’ll still write the post. Here’s how things are going, minus all the big scary stuff.

Movement is getting very consistent. S/he is super wiggly, especially if I eat chocolate. It’s still very thumpy, none of that delicate “butterfly wings” stuff I hear about. I did see on my ultrasound report that I have an anterior placenta, so that might explain it. Though with that you’re not supposed to feel anything until pretty late, so not sure why I still felt things so early. But it’s to the point now, at 20 weeks, that I can feel movement with my hand if I happen to have it in exactly the right spot at the right time. Christopher hasn’t gotten lucky with his timing, so he hasn’t felt anything, but that’s probably just a matter of time at this point.

The peeing is out of control. Minimum 5+ times a night. I’m really glad we have an en suite bathroom at this house (oh, we moved in on Saturday, woohoo!), because it’s annoying enough getting up constantly without also having to go down the hall or something.

Speaking of sleeping, I’m officially off my stomach completely. I think around 18 weeks it got occasionally uncomfortable, but by 19 it became totally not workable. I do still wake up on my back, but I figure I can’t control that. It’s not actually comfortable though. Not for any real reason that I can explain, just not comfy.

Braxton Hicks (false labor/non-painful, non-labor contractions) have kicked in pretty solid, starting at maybe 18 weeks? I was not expecting that so early. I’ve heard that dehydration can make them worse, so I’ve tried to up the water intake, but it just makes them less frequent. They never go away completely. They’re strong too; they make it feel like I can’t catch my breath. It’s hard to imagine what labor will feel like if these are so strong already. Still, they’re not so frequent as to be a cause for concern. I’ll try to ask about that at my next appointment, but good chance I won’t get to it.

I’m definitely very visibly pregnant at this point. There’s really no chance someone would look at me and not realize it, unless I was wearing very bulky clothes. None of my summer stuff will fit, except tops that zip/button up and can be left open. Especially since my boobs seem to be trying to compete with my belly for fastest growth. They’re ridiculous.

Baby is hanging out very low, and almost exclusively on my right. To the point that my belly button is off center because the right side is bigger than the left. I know s/he can go over to the left, or up higher, because occasionally I feel him/her there, or find the heartbeat there with the doppler, but it’s rare. S/he has a marked preference for my right side.

Also, related to being low, I’m leaning more and more towards it being a boy. Not because of any of the wives tales like that, since there’s no real truth behind them generally, just a feeling. My mom claims 100% accuracy on predicting gender of babies, and she’s (independently) leaning towards boy too. I’m quite curious to find out if we’re right!

Anyway, that’s where things are now.  Here’s hoping for more of these kinds of posts, and less of the sad ones, in the future!

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Please excuse the mess, we just moved in!

Wake Me Up When It’s All Over

Not posting this until we know more, so if you want to know the results of everything, skip to here.

Last Friday was our 20 week anatomy scan. I was nervous going in, because as I told Christopher, if they were going to tell us something was wrong, this was pretty much their last chance to do it. But mostly I was excited. I had started really feeling movement consistently, so I wanted to see if I could tell what movement corresponded to what thumps I was feeling. Plus, this time it would really look like a baby, not a blob or a baby-ish thing.

I was surprised by how uncomfortable it was. Baby is hanging out low, and head down, and they took a lot of measurements of the head, so they had to sort of dig in to my belly with the wand a lot. I don’t like any pressure at all on my belly right now, so I wasn’t liking it. I was also annoyed because they never slowed down in taking measurements, so we basically saw nothing recognizable. Helpful for avoiding finding out the sex, but I would have liked maybe a profile of the face or something, instead of a bunch of weird blobs and a nice shot of what looked like Predator.

Anyway, the tech did all the measurements, and then I expected her to ask if the student (we go to a teaching hospital) could try some, like last time. Instead, she said she had to go get the radiologist. I wasn’t really worried at that point, since I didn’t know if that was normal (apparently it’s not). The radiologist did some more, again focusing on the head. Then she said that they were seeing a problem. The baby’s ventricles in the brain (pockets that are full of fluid all the time) were enlarged. She said it could be a sign of Downs, or several other things, they couldn’t tell just from this ultrasound. They were going to send the information to my midwife (I had an appointment immediately after with them), but I was going to need another, more detailed ultrasound with the Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist.

We drove over to the midwife’s office, mostly in shock. I did google a bit, but my phone is pretty crappy so I couldn’t find much that way. The midwife didn’t really have any more to add. I did think to ask if there was any chance it was nothing, and she said no, not really. I’m assuming there’s always that .00000001% chance, but this is clearly going to be a problem of some sort. They also gave me a copy of the report from the ultrasound.

Basically, movement and heart are normal, as was my cervix (I was irrationally worried about preterm labor, so that was comforting), but the growth was off (large head, small to normal body and limbs), and the ventricles in the brain were enlarged, measuring 20mm. 10 is apparently the cut off for normal, and they’re typically even smaller than that. Cerebellum was also possibly hypoplastic (underdeveloped) (14mm), and “choroid is dangling.” Also “mild distension of the renal pelvis” (enlarged kidney area), though they seemed less concerned about that.

They took some blood for some screenings, and they’re getting me in with the MFM asap (next Friday, looks like, 2 weeks from the original ultrasound) for a more detailed ultrasound, and I’m supposed to meet with a genetics counselor. I googled some, which normally you’re not supposed to, but honestly I was thinking the worst so in this case it helped a little. Not showing any markers for trisomy 18 or 13 (very bad possibilities) based on google (obviously very reliable), downs is a possibility. I think the biggest concern, though they downplayed it, is that it’s caused by infection. That could likely be fatal (for him/her, not me). It’s also possible that it could all wind up coming to nothing, and the baby could be 100% normal/healthy, though that’s not at all likely, or at least there could wind up being just minor developmental delays later. Or s/he could have severe developmental delays and pretty much never be “normal.”

We’re still very much in shock, and trying to process what we can even though we don’t know anything yet. We’re just in a stasis mode, not knowing if this baby will even make it, so it’s hard to want to move forward with anything like nursery planning, but trying to stay at least somewhat hopeful. At first I was thinking “how could we have such bad luck again?!” But then I realized that probably wasn’t the way to look at it. Two unexplained miscarriages and now a non-healthy baby is a bit of a coincidence. There’s a good chance it’s all related, and one or both of us is carrying some markers for some sort of genetic disorder. I talked a bit to one of the ladies on my due date board on Hellobee who had gone through just that. They found after her second miscarriage that she carried a marker, and was told her odds weren’t good of having a healthy baby. They wound up going the IVF (in-vitro fertilization) route, because the embryos could be tested before implantation to be sure they got a healthy one that wouldn’t miscarry. After talking to her, I feel like if we wind up in that situation, at least I know sort of what to expect and it’s not hopeless (though very expensive, insurance covers zero of IVF costs, which are substantial). There are also ladies on HB that have had children born with brain damage, or faced high risk pregnancies, or other things, so I have people to talk to if we wind up dealing with any of that. I’ve also read a book in the past about preemies, and some of the brain damage risks from being premature look at least similar to what we could be facing, so that doesn’t seem entirely unknown to me.

It seems like a few things could happen at the next ultrasound. They could say the ventricles have gotten even larger, which pretty much eliminates any real hope. The baby’s brain can’t develop if all the space in the skull is full of fluid. Or they could have stayed the same or shrunk, both of which just sort of leave us with a lot of unknowns. I expect the genetics counselor to test us, as well as suggesting an amnio to test the baby, and see if there are any genetic issues (including possibly Downs). The genetics testing could let us know if there’s no chance of survival. If the ventricles haven’t gotten worse (and the rest of the brain looks mostly normal), and the genetic testing doesn’t show anything, it will probably just be wait and see. I guess that’s sort of the best case scenario, even though the waiting would not be fun. It’s definitely frustrating that all we can really hope for is no real answer at all, since most of the definite answers are bad.

After my first miscarriage, the doctor kept telling me it wasn’t my fault, over and over to the point that it was irritating. I wasn’t blaming myself, so please shut up already. Now I understand a little better. I’m not blaming myself, but I keep wondering if there’s something I could have done differently (not likely). I haven’t been sick, so how could it be an infection? Toxoplasmosis is a possibility, which you get from cat poop, but I haven’t cleaned the litter box since we started trying to get pregnant the first time. Maybe one of the dogs got in the litter box and tracked it to me? I do regret skipping the nuchal scan at 12 weeks, because it could have at least allowed us to find this sooner. Then again, it could have developed sometime since then, so maybe not. Would it have been worse to have gotten through that one thinking everything was good, only to have been blindsided by the bad results this time? I do think genetic testing for us after the second miscarriage would have made sense, and I’m not super thrilled that the other MFM that I saw at that time didn’t suggest it. But insurance probably wouldn’t have covered it, so I don’t know if we’d have done it even if they did suggest it. There’s really no point in looking at the “what if’s” at this point. Maybe I’ll reconsider what I would have done differently, so if anyone asks for my advice I can give it, but not now, when we don’t even know what ‘s causing all this.

Also, one last thing. Assuming we get an amnio done (which I really think we will unless it’s just straight up not going to make it), I think we’ll find out the gender then. I know I just wrote a whole post about why we don’t want to, but at this point there are other considerations that seem more important. Namely, the fact that I really need something to help me reconnect with this baby. With the prospect of possible loss on the horizon, I just totally disconnected. For the first couple days after we got the news, I was startled whenever I felt movement, because I’d half-forgotten I was still even pregnant, and that we hadn’t lost it yet. I’m much better about it now, and back to at least tentatively thinking about the future with a baby in it, but I still need all the help I can get. Being able to picture a little girl or boy, instead of a vague “baby” would help.

I’m not sure how to wrap this up. Like I said, not posting this till we have some answers of some sort, so just move on to the next post to find out.

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