The day we went to see the Maternal-Fetal Medicine (high risk) doctor and learned that my pregnancy with our little girl Abbi Mae was in trouble (she has a Two-Vessel Cord, one functioning kidney, severe IUGR, and a set of heart defects called Tetrology of Fallot that will require surgery to repair after birth), was a day I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I spent the entire evening on the phone with one person or the other, trying to give my family/close friends as much information as I could about the battle we were fighting. I was also tasked with placing a call to the American Red Cross to get a message to my husband’s chain of command in Afghanistan and hopefully have him sent home to not only be here in case we should have to deliver early, but to help with our 38 pound toddler. By the time the day was done I was mentally drained to the point of exhaustion!
The next day was a rough one. I didn’t realize just how far down I had stuffed my feelings about all of this until I woke up the morning after the appointment. I think I cried off and on throughout the entire day. The last time I was in a place this dark was the day that my grief over my Daddy’s death clawed its way to the surface and threatened to drown me; incidentally, I had buried it then too.
And that’s when it dawned on me. I was grieving. Not for my little girl, as she was very much still alive and well; I could feel her kicking away! I was instead grieving for the pregnancy/delivery that I thought I’d have. Throughout this journey through pregnancy, the only major decision that I’d given any real thought to thus far was whether or not to have an epidural during labor and delivery. Little did I know that that’d be the least of my concerns!
After talking with a few friends and family members who’d been through a high risk pregnancy (although none with quite the same circumstances), I was able to drag myself back from the depths of depression that I found myself in when I woke up and back to reality. Not that I was dancing with any unicorns on rainbows or anything, but I was able to put on a happy face and move through the motions of the day. I still had a toddler to raise and a life to live, after all. I decided that since I wasn’t given much choice, I was just going to have to deal with the fact that there wasn’t anything I could really do about the situation, so moving forward was my only real option.
I began looking forward to my next appointment, my first biophysical profile scan. A week after my initial appointment, I went in and had it done. She did great! She passed every portion of the scan with flying colors, which essentially gave her a clean bill of health (well, sort of) for another week. Now we wait for next week’s growth scan.
Surprisingly enough, it didn’t feel like an eternity until my next scan. My assumption is that I was too busy to notice. At was during that week time span that my husband Matthew was able to come home from his deployment to Afghanistan. It’s nice to have him home, even if it is under such crappy circumstances! After some minor arguments to reestablish the pecking order of the home, we settled back into a routine and life continued on.
We went in the next week for Abbi’s next growth scan. Since Matt was sent home with the sole purpose of helping me through this pregnancy, it’s essentially his JOB to make it to all of my appointments. They called us back to a different room (albeit just as comfortable) as the one from the weeks before, and we got started. The sonographer began with the biophysical profile measurements and then began to measure her size, shape, and weight. She was the same sonographer who had done the scan from the previous week, so we chatted quietly as she measured my daughter. After finishing up, she again handed me the box of baby wipes to clean up my belly from the ultrasound gel (that stuff always makes me itch after I pull the elastic panel in my maternity pants up), and went to give her report to the doctor. Now we wait to see if Little Miss has chunked up a bit.
Dr DeStefano came in about 15 minutes later. She first told us that Abbi again passed the biophysical profile portion of the scan with flying colors. She’s practicing her breathing often and is a very active little girl. The blood flow to her brain, kidney, heart, and through the cord looks good and is all within normal limits. She goes on to tell us however, that Abbi’s growth scale has dipped a bit. Whereas two weeks ago she was in the 5th percentile for growth, she is now under that. (She couldn’t give me an exact percentile number, because under the 5th and there isn’t a model to even calculate it.) At our first visit to the MFM at 24 weeks, Abbi weighed in at an underwhelming 1 lb 4 oz. Two weeks later at 26 weeks, she had only put on another 5 oz, bringing her total weight up to only 1 lb 9 oz.
So what does all that mean exactly?
In a nutshell it means that her cord is failing. Since Abbi did have some positive growth, the MFM felt comfortable letting her stay put for at least another two weeks (barring any unseen issues in the meantime), to see what her growth will look like at her next growth scan. Such a small amount of growth however, isn’t exactly encouraging. It means that her cord is failing at a faster rate than we’d hoped, and our chances of making it to the full term 37 week mark, are dwindling steadily. She explained that since we’re still so early, they are willing to accept a smaller amount of growth as “acceptable growth”, but that the further along we make it, that will not be the case. But every week we progress increases Abbi’s chances of viability, so she’s not getting evicted THIS week.
Hopefully we continue to see enough growth as the weeks continue on to allow her to stay put. We’re living from week to week, unsure of what each week’s scan will show. So now what?