The Second trimester: Advanced Maternal Age
At 15 weeks we had another ultrasound (this was maybe our third or fourth) and I had researched forever, early gender detection in ultrasounds. I read about heart rate (high is a girl) and location of the placenta. I was cautiously already convinced it was a girl because this pregnancy felt so much more intensely not fun, but I didn't want to get my hopes up. I also had a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea of it actually being a girl, since I wanted it so bad!! But I was desperate to go buy 8,000 dresses and tutus to console my pregnant barfy self. Thankfully the technician said the hemorrhage and cysts were gone! We were thrilled to not have to worry about that anymore and have a break from the doctor visits! The baby was still pretty tiny and naturally her legs were crossed! I mentioned the location of the placenta (I read about a study that was maybe 99% accurate at determining gender according to this) and the tech said that she had just read the same thing! So wouldn't you know it the placenta was on the right side, meaning a girl! We were not convinced but I was hopeful mainly because they didn't see a penis! (Sorry boys) There is a sound that every ultrasound tech makes when they see it is a boy, first they turn everything on and immediately upon seeing the baby they say "Ope" (like hope without the H) in a surprise high pitched tone, and then they ask if we want to know gender...it's a boy, we already know:) With Oliver we even found out he was a boy I think around this same time because I had to have an ultrasound on my heart and the guy offered to show us the baby just for fun. So we were pretty excited and thankful for the good news. The bummer was that for the first time with this baby I would have a break from ultrasounds, naturally just missing the window of being able to really tell if it was a boy or girl.
The doctor situation out here in Pennsylvania is such that you don't really have one doctor, you have one large doctor's office, with all kinds of flavors of medical professionals and you get who you get. This was different for us because with our three boys we always had 1-3 at most working with us. So every visit I saw a new face and watched them read through my chart for the first time right in front of me, approaching my complications with varying degrees of concern etc. So I was glad that the concerns had been resolved. So at my, I think 18 week visit, the latest doctor noted my "ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE" (I want that read in a deep echo-y epic man voice). Apparently having a baby at age 35 (which I am) is like a grandma deciding to give birth! The doctor was again, concerned, and wanted to send me over to advanced maternal fetal medicine for my 20+ week ultrasound. I am used to being offered the prenatal testing and all that during pregnancies and have always turned them down because I never felt it necessary (we would not terminate a pregnancy). So this doctor was suggesting testing etc. talking about the risks going up with age blah blah blah. I just figured, cool a more high tech ultrasound that makes your baby look like its made out of lava. The bummer was I had to wait THREE MORE WEEKS for my ultrasound. The wait was killing me. Finally March 8th 2016 finally arrived!!! Family members were counting down with me, eager to know if it was a girl! I was wanting a girl so bad that I had decided not to do a fun gender reveal with friends present because I didn't know how I would react if it was a boy...seriously. (Side note: as it actually got closer to ultrasound day I started to get scared that it was going to be a girl because I had no idea how to take care of a girl). The summer before we got pregnant I was at the park playing with the boys when at the softball field across the path I heard the crack of the bat and girls cheering, something inside me from that moment made me long for a baby girl...these boys aren't going to play softball, what a ripoff! I had loved the thought of a baby girl before that point as well, I even started having princess parties with my nieces and their mommies so that I could get some girl time in, and I vowed to do that annually, but when I heard that softball game, I just really wanted a girl for myself.
The day finally arrived and I practically skipped to the door of the doctor's office and Nate and I waited eagerly for my name to be called. Finally, there we were, finally!!! Jelly on my belly, dim lit room, and the question...do you want to know the gender? YESSSSSSSS!!! It's a girl!! I cried I was so excited! The ultrasound went on as Nate and I talked, in shock, about what it would be like to have a girl in the family!!! No doubt I mentioned going shopping! Finally!!! Have I mentioned... FINALLY!!!?
The ultrasound was pretty long and concluded with a visit from the doctor.
This is hard. When I think about what happens next, I hesitate. The doctor came in and explained that he had seen a few things in the ultrasound and wanted to take some time to walk us through the ultrasound findings. At this point I wasn't overly surprised because I had predicted, since they would be looking with hi-tech gear and for an extended amount of time, that they would find something to stress us out. Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. The doctor explained that our baby had an underdeveloped cerebellum and cysts on her brain, additionally he could see some heart defects, as well as possible issues with her fingers. Nate and I held hands as I lay there in that dim lit room staring in disbelief. After a while I began to cry, and the doctor was so kind and wanted to make sure he wasn't overwhelming us with information. Four hours later after learning about chromosomal defects, genetic testing, meeting with a genetic counselor via skype, etc we walked out of the office with advice not to look at the internet...which is almost as encouraging as when someone tells you to read about Job in the bible to feel better:) Man...things must be pretty bad.
Like I said before, I have been offered prenatal testing in the past but had never been interested. When I explained our feelings to the doctor he understood that we wanted to continue the pregnancy but that with all of the red flags, we may want to prepare ourselves. I told the doctor that we would have to research and pray about what to do next, and the doctor said he would pray for us as well. That gave us a lot of comfort and now having had a billion more doctor visits I have to say that I love and appreciate this doctor so much (Dr. Bringman). Two days later we drove to Danville (the big hospital about an hour away) and we had an echocardiogram and met with a pediatric cardiologist who explained in more detail the present heart defects. Following that appointment we had another ultrasound and an amniocentesis. I have to say, as far as fun things to do, an amnio isn't like at the top of my list. I mean you would think it would be fun right? Actually it wasn't as bad as I thought, The reeeally fun part was waiting 10 bleeping business days for the results.
The Phone Call
Tuesday March 22, the phone rings...I may have been staring at my phone telling it to ring...or not ring (I couldn't decide what was worse, them calling or not calling). The genetic counselor told me that she had the results and so I called Nate and he came home so that we could be together. We thought this time we wanted to be together at home instead of in a doctor's office, we wanted to hear the results, hang up the phone and process it without an audience. So we turned a show on for the boys in the next room, said a prayer, and received the news that our baby girl had Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards Syndrome.