Eventful Week

Last week, the midwife called and asked me to come to her office to discuss the results of my blood tests.

I was irritated.

I always become extremely anemic during my 3rd trimester, and didn't want to drive 40 minutes into town just to be told to take more supplements and eat liver {Blech. Not happening.} I composed a polite but stern lecture in my head about giving results over the phone and the value of time.

But she didn't want to discuss anemia.

Apparently, my body has developed an antibody against the foreign proteins in the baby's red blood cells. Which means that my red blood cells treat the baby's red blood cells like an enemy, and attack them. Usually, when the antibody screen comes back positive, the mother is also RH Negative, but I am not. She was at a loss, and recommended I make an appointment with a perinatologist-- a specialist in fetal care for High Risk Pregnancies.

What does this mean? I asked.

It could be nothing. Or it could be very, very bad. Don't worry about it until you know more, I was advised.

I went home stunned, then cried as I tried to explain what I'd learned to J.

I called the perinatologist that same day, managing to get an appointment before the weekend, only to discover that this particular doctor did not accept my health insurance. I had to scramble to find someone else. I finally did, and set up appointments for the following Monday and Tuesday. Then I settled in for a long weekend.

I tried not to think about some of the things the midwife had gently tried to prepare me for-- amniocenteses. In-utero blood transfusions. Early labor. Possible C-section. It was all too much, so I nestled into the comfort of denial and told myself I'm not stressed. I'm handling this so well.

But I was stressed, and as soon as J went out of town on Sunday night, I had a mini breakdown while watching House. Note to self: do not watch medical dramas while trying to avoid thinking of real-life medical issues.

Finally Monday arrived, and I went in for repeat tests and an ultrasound. In the past, my ultrasound technicians have been pretty tight-lipped. I suppose they have to be to avoid being sued for 'diagnosing' or something, but I couldn't stand silence and asked to at least be given a little feedback.

The feedback was great. Perfect heart. Perfect lungs. 10 fingers and 10 toes. We watched blood flow thru arteries in the brain and I was told, it all looks good. Your baby is almost 3 pounds already and growing right on schedule.

As I gazed at all the images appearing on the screen, it struck me. There is a baby in there. Not a tumor. Not a menacing thing taking over my body. A baby. Beautiful.

The next morning we got to talk with the perinatologist, who explained that the antibody levels in my blood start out low and get higher as time goes on. As they get stronger, they gain the ability to cause harm to the baby, leading to all those scary scenarios I was told about-- anemia in the baby, fluid in his/her body, transfusions, early delivery. But my levels are very, very low. And I don't have enough time left in this pregnancy to allow them to get high. It looks like the baby will be fine.

I was free to go back to the midwife.

I hadn't realized I had been so tense until we drove home and I noticed all my muscles relax into a jello-like consistency. I didn't even know what to do with myself or what to think about-- for days, all my energy had been directed towards thwarting panic, and now that was blessedly gone!

It was a very good day.

Of course, there will still be further tests and ultrasounds to make sure we aren't mistaken about the antibody levels. And if we decide to have another child, both J and I will have to undergo more tests, and the baby will have to be closely monitored. Each progressive pregnancy is increasingly dangerous, as my antibody levels grow higher and higher. And if I'm ever in a car crash or something, I have to be aware that my blood will react to foreign proteins, even if I'm given O negative blood.

But right now, none of that matters. The baby is healthy. And {ohmygosh, I never thought I'd say this} I'm luckily going to be pregnant for the next 3 months. I'll probably even be overdue, just as usual.

I'll take usual.


Crys said...

Thank goodness baby is alright. gosh your kids are cute. pip is having her baby right now and I cant wait to hold him in my arms, it making me baby hungry. And I have a baby!

Monkey Business said...

I have been following your blog for awhile and was surprised to learn that we are both due with our 4th babies at the same time.
Well, now I am even more shocked. At a routine blood test at 10 weeks, Antibody M showed up in my blood. I was also sent to a perinatologist and my husband underwent a round of blood tests as well. Like you, I initially panicked, but after receiving the same advice as you - I too felt better. I am 27 weeks now and have blood tests every 2 weeks. The levels have twice been too low to measure and have otherwise stayed at 1:8 - very good!
So, good luck to you and good luck to me - here is praying for 2 healthy babies this August.

jacqueline said...

Great to hear that all is well! I have been following your blog for awhile now, but haven't really taken the time to comment. You seem to be doing so well, though! Your baby is beautiful, by the way. I am not a mother, but I seem to be in constant baby fever mode. Wishing many blessings along the way to the big day! (p.s. did not mean for that to rhyme, but oh well)

hAha said...

Yay! Everything is alright! I was holding my breath for you, and praying of course:) yup Pip is due now soooo, haven't heard anything yet:) I'm so excited, which is probably curbing my ability to go into labor;) anywho glad that you're seeing an upside to pregnancy! Funny how we are able to see how good we have it once we go through a major trial:)

Janae said...

What turmoil you must've went through, in addition to dealing w/ depression already! SO glad all looks fine. Are you waiting to find out the gender? And I must say, that 3-D ultrasound is awesome!

LisAway said...

Woah! I'm breathing a sigh of relief. I'm sorry you went through all that and what it means for you in the future but SO glad that everything seems okay for now. So glad. And it's a blessing in disguise that you now have reason to be grateful to be pregnant.

About the anemia, I wish I lived close enough to bring some good homemade borscht. That's one of the iron foods they eat around here for anemia or after having a baby. I LOVE it. I would forgive you if you didn't love it but I would still force you to eat it. :)

I hope your pregnancy keeps going as well as possible. What a sweet profile that baby has! (and are you telling us if it's a boy or girl, or did you already? I know you thought it was a boy. . .)

Apis Melliflora said...

Whew! Glad all's well.

Kernal Ken said...

What a relief to read the good news towards the end of your post. I felt your anxiety and stress as I read. 3 months may seem long to you but so short to me. Hang in there sweet momma and no more scares please.

The Queen Vee said...

Whoops, not Kernal Ken posting above, really me.

劉KarolR_Sundquis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Briauna said...

Hey there my friend. I can't imagine how hard pregnancy is for you.But like you said what a blessing to be pregnant. Plus you truly are one of the cutest stinkin' pregnant that exists. I have seen you so I know it's a fact.
I am coming down to Arizona next Thursday and will be down for awhile. Cam has the summer off. I would love to come to the next book club meeting. Hopefully there will be one.

You are beautiful.

Miggy said...

You scared me for a minute...glad to hear things are alright. :)

hukolb said...

Pregnancy never fells entirely real/worthwhile until I see the first ultrasound and realize there is actually a real person inside there and all this pain and suffering is for something:). This is not meant to make you feel better about that pain and suffering, but it does help to think like J said, there's nothing like holding that newly bathed newborn all bundled up and smelling that soft whispy hair. Kinda makes all those sleepless nights during (and after:) pregnancy worth it...Hope you and the baby continue to be happy and healthy. Can't wait to see the new baby soon!

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