Monday, August 1, 2011

When a Pregnancy What If Really Becomes a What If

Two weeks ago, Ash and I went in for the anatomy scan for the new baby in my belly. We got to Johns Hopkins Hospital 40 minutes before our 8 am appointment, and the woman checking us in was super nice to us. When I asked where I could buy a bottle of water after almost throwing up from the water in their water fountain, she brought Ash and me each our own water bottles from their supply. A few minutes later, we were in the room sneaking peaks at our daughter. We'd been calling the baby Fancy as a joke name for weeks (in the spirit of Demorris), and I was delighted to find out the baby was a little girl. As the tech was doing the scan, Ash, she and I chatted about fake and real baby names and laughed a lot. She told us, Fancy was transverse and had her back to us so she couldn't get good readings of the heart. As she looked at the heart, I could only see three of the chambers moving. I didn't think anything of it, and so when she left the room for a long time to see if the doctor would be satisfied with the pictures we got, Ash and I texted people, called some people, and updated our facebook statuses with the info that our family would soon have a little girl in it.

A few minutes later, the previously jovial tech came in with a completely sullen face. She explained we'd have to come back for a scan of Fancy's heart in a week or two. I explained that Ash was about to leave for 20 days, and that I'd like him to be there for it. She explained that while she didn't think Fancy had a MAJOR birth defect, they couldn't rule it out. She kept saying major birth defect. They explained to us that there is a small window to see these things and to still have options. Our elation over the news that we were having a little girl stopped. Did they say termination? Huh? It's standard procedure to let folks know these sorts of things.

We left the office and met back up with the nice woman who checked us in and she let me know that they would schedule me for two weeks, and that she'd be happy to see me again.

I held it together until we walked a little farther down the hall and then I cried. Only briefly.

Ash left for a long work trip where he wouldn't have access to a phone and time went by. On Friday, I had an appointment with my midwife where she told me they may have seen light in the pictures of Fancy's heart. Light can mean a hole in the heart, and a hole in the heart is one of the marker's for genetic disorders. There are plenty of things it could be, severe heart defect, downs syndrome, trisomy, or something mild.

I sat up each night in Noah's room watching him sleep and rubbing my belly. I said the same prayer I've been saying since 5th grade for my fertility and that I have healthy, happy children. I waited for what felt like an eternity to see Fancy's heart again.

I felt hesitant about heading to the ultrasound today. I had opted to go alone, and my parents came in to stay home with Noah while I went. Until I got to the hospital it seemed completely reasonable to me that I would go alone so I could react however I wanted to react before I had to share the news with anyone else. Until I thought back to a year ago, when I laid alone in an emergency room in Seattle while Noah and I accompanied Ash on a work trip, and an ER doctor held my hand as he told me I was losing the baby I was pregnant with. Did I really want to be alone for potentially devastating news again?

A few seconds later, the same ultrasound tech we had the last time emerged and called me back. Within the first few minutes of the scan she let me know Fancy was still not cooperating. But a couple minutes later, Fancy started flashing her heart. I immediately saw all four chambers pumping away. I squinted trying to see if I saw any light. The heart scan lasted about an hour the same amount of time the full body scan took two weeks before.

The tech let me know she really liked us, and so she was looking at every vessel leading into the heart and surrounding areas as well as the heart to do a more complete scan than the one I was there for.

She told me in her opinion Fancy's heart looked great. She left the room to confirm with the doctor and reemerged before I could draft an email to Ash, beaming with her thumb up. "The doctor says Fancy's heart is GREAT!"

I can't really describe how happy and relieved I felt. I walked past the front desk and the women shouted after me, "Take care, Amanda." I stopped and sent Ash an email titled, "Fancy's heart is GREAT!" in case he could only read the subject heading or something.

Then I went to get my car from the valet, and just as I walked up to the kiosk my phone rang. I didn't recognize the number, and when I answered it was Ash. I was so happy to be able to tell him the great news. We talked about the experience, he told me he loved me and then he started to say something else but he lost the call. I sent him an email telling him how nice it was to talk to him, and I saw one from him that said he was about to tell me to tell our son and our daughter how much he loves them.

Perfect day.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Amanda *hug* I wish I had seen this earlier to comment.
    I was born with an Atrial Septal Defect, which meant I had a hole that needed to be repaired in one of the chambers of my heart. It's genetic, so my children will be thoroughly checked for it.
    Mine was large enough that it needed to be repaired, but I was so small that they couldn't repair it until I was almost 5. I spent a good portion of my early childhood in hospitals, and I know my mom worried about me a lot.
    But, I survived, as do almost all children with a chamber defect. :)
    However, I am glad that your little girl is healthy :)