2nd Trimester

  • Posted on October 24, 2010 at 6:19 pm

On March 23, 2009, my husband and I excitedly made our way to a perinatologist’s office for my formal ultrasound.  I also had a genetics screening with a counselor the same day to go over the results of blood work done.  Despite my age at pregnancy (36) , I was confident that nothing was genetically wrong with my twins.

We sat in the office with the genetics counselor and she went over all the statistics of what she found.  We were as normal of a pregnancy as we could be, which was really nice to hear.  Even though I was more at risk for having a baby with Down’s Syndrome because of my age, the blood work came back that there was a very small chance the twins had it.   Everything was normal.  She did mention that I could have an amnio done on both babies to be absolutely sure, but I had already turned down the test before because I didn’t want to run the risk of having a miscarriage.  The chance of miscarriage is present enough when an amnio is done that I didn’t want to risk it at all.  After all the heartache, drama, and blood, sweat, and tears we went through to be at the place we were right then, I had no intention of causing any kind of risk, no matter how small, just to find out something I would eventually know about when they were born, anyway.  Plus, the idea of having a long needle plunged into my abdomen really squicked me out.

After the genetics counseling session, we were escorted to a room with a lot of very expensive-looking equipment.  The whole reason why I was having my formal ultrasound at this office and not my regular OB/GYN was because they had the very expensive-looking equipment that could do all sorts of interesting things, and my OB/GYN’s little po-dunk ultrasound machine could not.

I remember laying down on the table and waiting impatiently for the ultrasound doctor to get started.  This was a momentous occasion for us.  We were finally going to find out what our babies’ gender.  I really, really wanted a girl, but also wanted a boy.  How perfect would that be?  A boy and a girl.  That’s the ultimate perfect family.  One boy and one girl.  I kept saying it in my head.  I hoped the girl would look like me and the boy would look like my husband.  I just knew in my mind that we were having one of each.

The ultrasound doctor came in and briskly started the ultrasound, taking measurements as he went.  Focusing on Baby A, the doctor talked over our heads to the ultrasound nurse, rattling off numbers in conjunction with lengths of arms, legs, abdomen, etc.  I was fascinated with what I saw on the monitor.  There was one of my babies, moving and kicking, looking as perfect as could be.

Then, the ultrasound doctor moved on to Baby B, rattling off measurements and numbers as he did with Baby A.  He seemed to be spending more time focusing on Baby B, so I asked what he was looking at.  He said, “I’m concerned about the lack of amnionic fluid around Baby B.  I need to go get another doctor.”  When he left, I remember feeling hot and cold, all at the same time.  The ultrasound nurse continued to push down on my stomach to try and get a good angle on Baby B, but Baby B couldn’t change positions.  Another doctor came in with the original one, and they continued the ultrasound.  It felt surreal – like watching this all happen in a dream.  There I was on the table, there the doctors worked over me, conferring here and there about what they saw, the ultrasound nurse moving the wand around to try and get a better angle.

At one point, I heard over all the measurements and words being discussed about Baby B, that Baby A was a girl.  I remember feeling bereft, almost robbed.  Where was that ultrasound all new mothers talk about?  The one where the doctor says, while beaming down at the new mom, “You’re having a girl!” and points out the girl parts with a cute little arrow on the monitor, typing the words “IT’S A GIRL” next to the arrow.  Then the new mom goes home on a cloud, staring at her ultrasound picture in awe, imagining what her baby’s nursery will look like, what linens to buy, what colors to paint the walls, and what crib set will go best with the color scheme.  And, of course, within the hour, the ultrasound picture with the jaunty little arrow gets posted on-line to share with family and friends.

Instead of all that, my husband and I find out we’re having a girl because the ultrasound nurse was looking at the ultrasound pictures while the doctors worked on my belly to try and get the best angle they could to figure out what was wrong with Baby B.

My little Baby B was stuck in a placental prison, no amniotic fluid to swim in, grow in, or develop lungs in.  All the pressing down on my belly was to try and locate kidneys.  They couldn’t find any.  My little Baby B had Potter’s Syndrome, a congenital disorder where the absence of kidneys or kidneys that aren’t functioning cause the low amniotic fluid, which then cause the baby to not develop properly for lack of space, as well as lack of lung development.  The doctor found something else with Baby B’s heart.  We were asked to come back in a few days so that a Pediatric Cardiologist could look at the heart to determine what else might be wrong.

I sobbed.  I couldn’t believe what was happening.  I had told my family, my friends, all my students, and my coworkers that we were going in to find out what our babies were going to be.  I remember being so excited for one of my coworkers who was having twins, too.  She was six weeks ahead of me and had just found out a few weeks before that she was having a boy and a girl.  I wanted that, too.  I wanted to feel that excitement.  Instead, I was ecstatic for our little baby girl who was perfectly fine on one side, and my poor Baby B, squished and not able to form properly on the other.

Why do bad things happen to good people?  People have told me countless times that things happen for a reason.  God only gives us what we can handle.  God had a plan.  I don’t know what to say to that.  Despite my upbringing, I’m not a very religious person anymore.  Too many times, I’ve seen religious people turn mean and have treated those I love in a very unkind way.  I’m sure people had good intentions when they said they’d pray for us.  I even had a few people who didn’t believe what the doctors said and that we should just believe in miracles and our Baby B would be just fine.

If anything, we were not “just fine.”  We were anything but.  I don’t even know how we made it through the second ultrasound with the Pediatric Cardiologist.  As if having Potter’s Syndrome wasn’t enough, let’s give him yet another congenital defect that’s fatal!  Baby B’s tricuspid valve wasn’t closing, allowing blood to backwash back into the heart.  Eventually, the cardiologist said, fluid would develop in the heart and around the lungs.  If I were to go full-term with the twins, Baby B would pass away in-utero.

All I could remember thinking at this point was there had to be some way to save our Baby B.  With all the technology available today, couldn’t the doctors do some sort of surgery where they could give the baby a kidney?  And, the cardiologist did say that people can live with Ebstein’s Anomaly.  I’ve seen episodes of “House” – I know they can do surgery on babies while they’re still in the womb.  Of course, that’s just Hollywood.  In real life, if a baby doesn’t develop kidneys, the baby’s lungs won’t develop.  I remember the doctor telling us this in a matter-of-fact way, that our Baby B would not suffer and would slip away peacefully.

Peacefully.  How can losing your baby be peaceful?  It’s anything but peaceful.

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