Sunday, March 21, 2010

How Our Story Began

Up until this point, my pregnancy was a typical healthy one. I found out that I was pregnant in December, much to my surprise and delight! Keith and I knew that we were ready to start a family, but we hadn't really been focusing all of our attention on "trying." We were both amazed when I had a positive test at that time. Keith had also been working nights at that time, so our time for "trying" was very limited! Throughout the next 18 weeks I had routine appointments with no sign of anything abnormal. My ultrasounds at 7 weeks and 11 weeks looked great, and all of my blood work came back fine, inclding the AFP screening at 15 weeks. This screening tests for chromosonal abnormalities, and an elevated result can indicate anything from spina bifida to Down Syndrome. I felt relieved when I heard that my results were in the normal range. I've always been a superstitious person, and throughout this pregnancy I was very cautious of what I did and was afraid to let very many people know I was pregnant before 14 weeks. Only a small group of family and friends were aware. My hope was that by being protective, I would hopefully avoid anything going wrong. When I made it to the 2nd trimester, I was ecstatic! I felt much more comfortable telling people and was beginning to feel more comfortable with my pregnancy and that it would be normal and healthy. Funny how things can change in an intstant.

My first appointment here in Independence was last Monday. It went very smoothly, and I was able to hear the baby's heartbeat for the second time. It was strong, and reminded me of a horse galloping! My new doctor(Dr. Adams) assured me that from how healthy I was and how everything so far had come back normal, I was a low-risk pregnancy. Because I was just about 19 weeks, I asked about setting up an appointment that week to find out the sex of the baby. He told me it shouldn't be a problem, and we were actually able to get in later that afternoon. This was the ultrasound Keith and I had been looking forward to for weeks, and we were very anxious to go.

When we started our ultrasound, things seemed normal enough. I could see the baby's heart beating, the spine, hands, feet, etc. The tech was having a hard time getting a good enough look to determine the baby's sex because he/she wouldn't turn around (I knew then that this stubborn baby was definitely my child). A few minutes into the ultrasound, she mentioned that the stomach looked a little abnormal, as did the kidneys. Immediately, my mind started to panic a little. After about 15 minutes, we stopped the ultrasound and she took the pictures to my doctor for an initial look to confirm what she thought. When she returned, we were told that we would have to do a Level 2 ultrasound, which looks much closer at things. We were scheduled for Wednesday, and told that Dr. Adams would call me that evening after he'd thoroughly reviewed my ultrasound. We left that appointment feeling very unsettled. Not only did we not learn the sex of our baby (though she did say she thought it might be a boy), but we left with more information than we'd wanted to hear.

That evening Dr. Adams called me to tell me what he saw on the ultrasound. It indidcated that our baby's umbilical cord is a single-artery cord. What this means is that there is only 1 artery taking waste out of the body instead of 2. As a result, one of the kidneys was quite swollen due to a buildup of fluid. Keith and I did more research on this at home, and were very hopeful that worst case scenerio would be that maybe the baby might lose a kidney at birth. Little did we know there was more in store for us.

The moment I laid down for the Level 2 ultrasound on Wednesday, I felt nervous. I didn't know what to expect. When the Dr. mentioned that the single-artery cord was the least of this baby's worries, my heart sank. She then informed us that there was an abdominal wall defect. Basically, this means that when the umbilical cord formed on the stomach, the stomach failed to close properly, leaving the intestines and other organs on the outside of the abdomen. I lost it. I felt like I had been punched in the chest and began sobbing uncontrollably. The Dr. said that in order to know how this would impact the baby's survival, we would need to know if there are any chromosonal abnormalities. To know this, we would have to do an Amniocentesis. This would involve sticking a long, thin needle into my abdomen and retrieving amniotic fluid from the womb. Anyone who knows me knows that I am deathly afraid of needles, and from the moment I read about Amniocentesis in one of my pregnancy books, I was terrified of it. Keith and I told the Dr. we needed a minute to talk and process what we'd just heard. Although I felt like I couldn't possibly endure an Amnio after hearing such awful news, I knew we needed answers soon. Plus, I would just fear it if we put it off. So, a few minutes later I was lying down having the Amnio done. I have to say that it wasn't quite as bad as my mind imagined it to be, though I definitely didn't enjoy it either. Needless to say, we left that appointment feeling defeated and didn't get much sleep that night.

We now are meeting with the Dr. tomorrow at noon for preliminary results, which will tell us about only a few of the chromosones. It takes about 2 weeks to get the full results. I am praying that we hear some positive news tomorrow and on the next appointment. I'm not sure I can handle hearing more bad news. If you could join us in this prayer, we would really appreciate it. I will post again tomorrow after the appointment, hopefully with good news.



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