Saturday, December 8, 2012

Placentas and I Just Don'tGet Along

Okay.  Another humdinger of a doctor's appointment to dissect here.  Not the overly-hormonal pregnant mommy rage this time, I promise. 

I am now 24 weeks and 5 days.  I am so grateful.  I had a celebratory post all planned out, but I got bogged down by schoolwork and had to focus for a few days to finish it up.  So here we are.

I have some pretty serious anxiety about discussing my pregnancy with people.  I hate going into maternity stores because the well-intentioned sales ladies are all "OMG, when are you due?  What are you having?  IS THIS YOUR FIRST?"  I can't take it.  What am I supposed to say?  Same goes for family members that I'm not extremely close with. 

That being said, I have tried in this pregnancy to be marginally closer to one of those "normal" pregnant women.  You know, the ones who can have an actual optimistic conversation about the practically guaranteed infant they will soon be blessed with.  It's just not working, though.  I fricking give up.

It started when I had an ultrasound with the perinatologist at 16 weeks.  Jerry was coming of course.  Because my mama and I are not used to living apart, we were pretty excited to meet in the city that lies partway between us for a weekend of good old gender-revealing ultrasound fun.  Then she broke her driving foot.  So we figured she should stay home, but suggested I invite my Grandma and Grandpa to come along.  I adore my grandparents, so I swallowed my anxiety and invited them.  They were so excited.  Then I wrecked my car and had to reschedule the appointment. At 18 weeks, I finally got to my appointment with Jerry, Kiddo, my mom, and my grandma in tow.

I hate that feeling in ultrasounds when you feel like the tech is spending too much time on a specific part of the baby.  Like something might be horribly wrong but the tech won't tell you because of the audience you drug along. 

Well, as you know that ultrasound went fine.  We found out we were having a boy and my grandparents were such a lovely addition to the day.  My Grandma has called at least three times since then just to jabber about how amazing she thought it was.  It brings tears to my eyes every time.  My grandparents rock. 

Fast forward 6 weeks to yesterday.  My dad has now heard about me bringing the grandparents along to the ultrasound and casually mentions that he has never seen one.  In the spirit of sharing my pregnancy joy, I indulge him.  Then he brings his new wife.  It's not that I truly dislike her.  It's just that my comfort level around her is about a 0. I've always had a bit of a difficult relationship with my father.  He conveniently waits until he has driven the two hours to Small Town MD's office before texting me to ask if I mind if she comes along.  Now, it seems to me if he truly wanted to be sensitive to my wishes, he would've asked yesterday before he left the house.  Whatever.  That's not what this post is about. 

So....there we all are.  The tech gets me all set up on the table.  It is only a minute or two in before I feel the vibe coming off her, and I don't like it.  She's spending too much time measuring things.  She seems to be trying hard to keep the mood light.  My ultrasounds-gone-wrong nightmare begins literally unfolding before my eyes.  All the while everyone is next to me jabbering and generally just raising my anxiety levels by being oblivious to the icky vibes in the room.  Worse, I can hear my dad and his wife talking to the Kiddo about "when Baby Brother gets here."  As though I'll actually get to keep him.  As though my amazing daughter will actually get to be a big sister. Just taking it all for granted like those people who've never had anything bad happen to them do.  I stare hard at the screen.  His brain looks good.  Spine has no huge chunks missing.  Two kidneys.  Four-chambered heart with no white spots.  Since this is about the limit of my ultrasound interpretation expertise, I couldn't figure out what she was looking for.  The tech starts asking all sorts of questions about his growth.  If this is my first.  I mention my placental abruption history, but consciously withhold Matthew's name from my lips.  And when was my last ultrasound.   When she finds out I had one at the other office 6 weeks ago, she can't get out of the room fast enough.  She says something vague about pulling up the images on her other computer to compare and bolts. 

There I am covered with ultrasound gel.  Stuck on that table knowing she has just bolted straight for the doctor.  With several obliviously excited family members in the room.  Jerry is also oblivious, simply beaming at the images on the monitor in a proud daddy sort of way that makes my heart feel like it's breaking.  Kiddo is happily chanting, "Baby brother, baby brother, baby brother"  over and over again.  I don't say a word.

The tech comes back and says something stupid about technology being slow.  She spends a lot of time making sure I get good pictures.  She measures some more.  At this point I am fairly certain it must be his growth she is concerned about so I am relieved when she estimates his weight at 1 lb 12 oz.  She measures him right at 25 weeks.  Perfect.

When the ultrasound wraps up, I dismiss my audience and head into the doctor's office.  My blood pressure is elevated.  Shocker.  Small Town MD enters.  I'll just paraphrase his little schpiel for the sake of brevity here:  "So....everything looks great with the baby.  His weight is great.  Your amniotic fluid level is great.  I almost wish I didn't have to mention this at all.  The umbilical cord insertion site on the placenta is a bit off-center.  I'm not concerned about it AT ALL.  The cord is actually situated about 2 centimeters in from the edge, and that's GOOD."

Um...he had me at placenta.  2 centimeters from the edge?  Me and my fricking placentas.  I ask if it is a velamentous cord insertion (I don't even really know what that means at the moment, but I've heard the term once or twice in relation to umbilical cord issues).  He says no.  I ask if it correlates to placental abruption. Nope.  

All I could think about was the way the baby was torquing on his umbilical cord for a large portion of the ultrasound.  I mean, he doesn't exactly have any toys in there, but still.  

Considering my general distrust of Small Town MD's abilities, he held up pretty well during the appointment. He recommended that we do the evidence-based thing and simply continue to monitor.  He feels the biggest indications of a well-functioning placenta are adequate growth and adequate amniotic fluid.  My cervix is closed up tight--a positive sign that I might not go into premature labor.  For now. 

I think to say that all this scares the shit out of me would be a huge understatement.   I mean, am I incapable of growing a decent placenta?  I certainly hope not, but with my body you never know.  I agree with Small Town MD's suggestion that we simply monitor his growth and hope for the best.  But one bad measurement and I want this baby out.  The last thing I would ever want is another NICU experience.  But even more than that?  I do not want my baby to be stillborn.  I am so afraid that we will lose another baby.  This baby.  

When we got home, I sorted the baby clothes and tucked them into a plastic tote, out of site and with their corresponding receipts.  You know, in case it all goes to hell.  

Having no other option besides continuing to take things one day at a time, I am trying hard to stay positive and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  But the ultrasound-sharing portion of this pregnancy?  Is absolutely over. 

I am beginning to do some researching and consulting on the matter and will discuss what I learn and the implications after I sort things out a bit.  Until then, if you are the praying kind, please pray for us.


  1. I'm sorry the appointment didn't go as you hoped. Even though it sounds like it's not a huge concern to the doctor at this point, I know it will be a huge worry until you're holding your baby in your arms. I hope the information you find during your research helps put your mind at ease.

    It sounds like you held up really well during the ultrasound, though. I probably would've had a breakdown and ordered everyone out.

    And I hear you about the maternity stores. When I was pregnant, I held off as long as I could, for that very reason. And I have to admit, I was just bluntly honest with them when they'd ask those kinds of questions. I'd just say, "No, it's my 7th pregnancy, but it's the only one that's gotten this far." And "I'm due in the spring, but my big goal is to make it to 30 weeks, and anything past that will be a bonus." It was far more personal than they wanted to get, but it shut them up, they let me shop in peace, and it kept me off their mailing lists... :-)

  2. Grr. I've had placenta issues too, fortunately never anything like an abruption, but my complete placenta previa last pregnancy left me a nervous wreck. Good job asking about the velamentous insertion and keep advocating for yourself and your baby! I know doctors mean well when they talk about problems being rare, etc., but they happen to someone, as you sadly know and your doctor should be taking that seriously.

    I hate that moment when the atmosphere in the u/s room shifts and you just know something is wrong. Hate it.