[Disclaimer: I am sharing my VERY personal pregnancy experience here on the blog in the event that someone else might experience a similar situation down the road. Please be kind in any comments, and know that we are incredibly thankful for our healthy and petite baby girl.]
Everything was going just splendid in my pregnancy, until all of the sudden…..it wasn’t. Up until about 31 weeks, I really couldn’t complain. Minus a little swelling in the hands and feet, and some nausea in the first trimester, I hadn’t begun to feel hugely pregnant. Then things got real.
At my 31 week appointment, the doctor thought my baby bump was measuring a little small for gestational age, so he requested an ultrasound to check things out. The ultrasound showed that our little bundle of job was tracking a little small for gestational age, and the doctor thought it might be good to see a specialist for another ultrasound. No biggie. The doctor reassured me that everything would be fine and that some people have 5-6 lb babies and some people have 7+lb babies and that’s okay!
We went to see the specialist the following week for another ultrasound, and this doctor wasn’t quite as reassuring. Basically, little Kathleen’s long bones (think arms and legs) were measuring much shorter than the rest of her bones, and overall she was measuring weeks behind her gestational age. Plus, she was in the breech position, where she continued to stay put until delivery. (Fun fact: Only 5% of babies are actually born in the breech position.) When we asked the new doctor what exactly this meant for our unborn baby, she said bluntly (a little TOO bluntly): your baby could have a skeletal dysplasia, she could have a chromosomal disorder or she could have an intrauterine growth restriction and just be a small baby. Say what?? We were in shock when she left the room and I immediately started crying.
Once Brian explained to me in layman’s terms the terminology she had spouted out, I really began to freak. Down syndrome?? Dwarfism?? IUGR?? I, of course, started googling and became even more sick to my stomach. How could this be happening? Everything had been fine all along, and now she might have a serious problem? What did I do to my baby? We were overcome with questions that we didn’t have the answers to, and wouldn’t have answers to until she was born.
The worst part was that the doctor wanted us to wait 2 full weeks before having another ultrasound to give the baby a chance to show “interval growth.” TWO WHOLE WEEKS stewing on this new information. Our doctor suggested that we go ahead and get the blood test for the major chromosomal disorders (you may have heard of the harmony test), to try to rule that out. We got the test, but, wouldn’t have the results for 7-10 business days.
Those were two very long weeks where I didn’t have much of a distraction since I was supposed to go to work, then come home and put my feet up. All we could think about was our sweet little baby being born without fingers or toes, or being so short that she wouldn’t be able to live a normal life, or even worse. The only somewhat bright side was getting to indulge in a daily milkshake – doctor’s orders – to “try to gain some weight.” If a milkshake would help my baby girl, I would drink 1,000, and at the time, it felt like I did.
Two weeks later, on a Monday morning, we headed back to the doctor for an ultrasound, and promised ourselves that we would remain positive, whatever the outcome. We saw a different doctor this time, and right away she was very upfront and told us the growth wasn’t where they wanted it to be. She also told us that our baby’s blood flow through the doppler on the ultrasound was not flowing through the body as well as it should be. Finally, she matter-of-factly stated that I should be admitted to the hospital for continuous fetal monitoring. I was speechless, but Brian spoke up and asked when I would need to be admitted. She stated, I’d recommend you walk over there right now.
My head started spinning – I was only 33 weeks, how could I be going into the hospital? We haven’t even taken the hospital tour or the childbirth class yet…I haven’t discussed my maternity leave plans with work…I haven’t had my baby shower…Kathleen’s room isn’t even close to ready…
[This is already a crazy-long post (thanks for hanging on this long!), so I’ll finish the story of our hospital drama and Kathleen’s entry into the world in another post – coming soon!]