Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Pause and Breathe

30 weeks pregnant.  For months and months I've waited to be able to reach the point in this pregnancy when bubs could be delivered if something were to go wrong.  Now I'm here, and I have to say 'Thank God for that," 'cause, I tell you now it's been a hard slog over the past few months.

Last time I posted, I may or may not have mentioned I was scared.  Well, F###ing terrified might have been closer to the mark.  If I thought  I was a bit on the nervous side at that point, it was nothing compared to the blind terror we were confronted with at our 22 week cardiac checkup.

We waltzed into the ultrasound clinic in a fairly blaze manner.  We'd been here just a few weeks previous and baby boy 2.0 was looking good.  Heart Healthy, normal rhythm.  Cautiously optimistic, one might say.  Our obstetrician had recommended we get a full fetal cardiac check at 22 weeks, just to be on the safe side, and low and behold if the cardiologist wasn't the same fella who had diagnosed Poppy, and tried so hard to save her life when she was born.  We have faith in Dr Lance; he went above and beyond to help us understand what had happened to cause her death, when we were standing there with an autopsy report and an obstetric care provider who has basically handed it to us and said 'Don't come back.'

Dr Andrew, our ultrasound dude, and Dr Lance began our scan in the most usual of ways; chatting, explaining our history, etc.  Glen and I were a bit surprised that Dr Lance remembered us and Poppy, and even some of the details of her diagnosis.  Then things got quiet...like whispered quiet.  Glen and I held on to each other for dear life.  'We'll be okay," I reassured, "no matter what."  We knew the whispering was a bad sign.

I peered at the screen, well I tried to, given my already humongous boobs have decided to like double in size.  I examined the little heart on the screen to try to understand what they might be discussing.  This little heart which is the size of a jellybean.  This little heart that has my heart already.  It looked like the usual grey 4 chambered blur that it should, just a bit brighter than normal.  After a little bit more whispering, Dr Lance steps out to wait for us in an office to have a chat.  Dr Andrew, more subdued now, continues to check the rest of our little guy over.  Growing well, placenta good, everything properly formed.  "Just a little something odd about the heart..." he mentions, "Dr Lance is in the back office up the hall."

It's fair to say at this point we were ready for the worst.  Walking along that corridor, I'm surprised there wasn't some sort of Doomsday March playing.  Dr Lance is a super serious bloke, so we weren't surprised when he seemed, well, serious.  He explained that the glowy part of the heart that we'd seen was cause for concern, given our history.  Everything else looked ok, but the left ventricle (the bottom left chamber of the heart for those playing at home) was 'echogenic' and this could indicate that the muscle was thickening.  It could be the first sign of one of the conditions Poppy had.  The worst condition that Poppy had.  The incredibly rare-never seen anymore-almost universally fatal condition that Poppy had.

Either that or it's nothing serious.

Talk about extremes!  On one hand, a potentially fatal disaster befalling our precious cargo.  On the other; nothing much to worry about.

What. The. Hell?

Where was our lovely, normal pregnancy that everyone kept saying we deserved?  The peaceful healing time where we enjoy the fruits of our toil? Fricken gone down the proverbial toilet, is where.  Zipped off the Timbuktu with a Jolly Jumbuck and Elmer the Elephant.

So began our new regime.  Weekly Scans to check our boy's heart rate stayed stable and he didn't develop the other condition Poppy had.  Fortnightly visits to the Obstetrician.  4 weekly checks with Dr Lance.  Second opinions with other fetal cardiologists.  Checks of our hearts and Xav's, to see if it's possibly genetic.  Cardiac Geneticist visits. Telling our story over and over and over, and dealing with the shocked silences and the 'I'm so sorry' again and again.

But like everything else, this became our new normal.  Everything was put on hold while we tried to deal with...whatever it was.  Tried to deal with trying to predict the future with a couple of clues and a magnifying glass.  Totally Nancy Drew.  At 26 weeks, baby was slightly worse, maybe.  At 27 weeks, our second opinion said things looked pretty okay.  At 29 weeks, the time when we found out Poppy was really sick, Dr Andrew was optimistic.  All our checks came back normal.

Glen and I approached our third cardiac scan with a mix of apprehension and hope.  Things have been looking okay.  Baby boy 2.0 is still stable and growing well.  Now we're 31 weeks, if he is not looking okay he will be delivered.  Week by week, day by day, we wait for some sign of anything changing.

Of course, today is that day everyone is running late and we're running early (NEVER happens...) and we have to wait for like 50 minutes for our scan.  I begin calm.  As time goes on, I begin to freak myself out, and I get more and more wound up.  Finally we're called and in we go.  The friendly Doctors arrive and things begin.  There is no whispering this time.  Exclamations of amazement, shocked approval.  Dr Lance steps out and the rest of the checks are done, and baby is still growing well (maybe a little too many cookies on my behalf, he's a week ahead of schedule), placenta is good, fluid is good.  "See you in a few weeks," Dr Andrew reassures.

Glen and I float along the hallway, hoping that we understood what just happened.  Dr Lance greets us with a smile.  If you had met Dr Lance, you'd understand how weird this is. "I can't explain it," he says, "but your baby's heart looks fairly normal now."  He pauses to let this sink in and explains a few more technical things I won't bore you with.  We discuss delivery, and checks after birth.  We make arrangements to see him with baby after he's born.

Slowly, as we pay our million bucks to our friendly doctors, the news settles into my heart.  He might be okay.  Our boy might be able to be in the room with us after he's born instead of being whisked off to NICU.  He might be well enough to play sport like most kids.  He might be born alive.

So there's our roller coaster ride.  10 weeks of crazy.  We're not quite off the hook.  There's still a chance things might go pear shaped, and thankfully no one is taking their eyes off baby.  We ask for your continued good thoughts and prayers because our little miracle baby is even more of a miracle now.  All I'm saying is that if he's born with a cape on, or has issues with Kryptonite, I predicted it.  Super Boy 2.0.

Now the count down to his arrive is a little more sure, a little more accurate.  Hopefully somewhere around 6-7 weeks to go.

But for now, I plan to sit down, relax and enjoy the ride.

A carousel, not a roller coaster.