Every mum to be’s worst nightmare, the Fetal Medicine department. Sitting in the reception surrounded by leaflets on rare disorders, fetal defects and counselling services is enough to tip you over the edge. At the ripe old age of 30 I have realised that life can be such a struggle for some and breeze for others , and the things we think are important sometimes are really not. From the word go it’s so hard for some couples even making a baby let alone facing into the hundreds of different problems that could potentially arise when pregnancy goes wrong. You definitely have to be made of tough stuff.
The scanning room was slightly bigger than the rooms in antenatal clinic, it seemed somewhat more formal and technical. I was asked if I didn’t mind a work experience girl sitting in for my appointment and scan. I mean this girl was no older than 16, barely out of school but if sitting in on the worst appointment of my life was going to help her decide whether she wanted to be a doctor or not then go for it. Hope I don’t put her off for good. The scan lasted for ages and was really uncomfortable , lying flat is uncomfortable at the best of times but lying flat whilst having extreme anxiety in a silent room for what felt like forever was just vile. At one stage I started choking on my own saliva I think in all of the apprehension I forgot to swallow.
After the scan I was the put in ‘counselling room one’, if any room was enough to induce early labour this was it. Plastic leather sofas, 1980s style decor and cushions complimented by a box of tissues in each corner. How comforting ! I was told that they would be back in 5 minutes ….
5 minutes felt like 50 … It was definitely more like 15 minutes anyway. Already short of breath in this pregnancy from just moving I kept trying to swallow some more air from somewhere like a fish out of water … It wasn’t happening so I just suffocated in silence… then the parade came in. One by one the consultant , specialist nurse and work experience girl. (Again still not sure how appropriate that was but hey).
Suddenly I’m penned in between the three , like interview nerves, the room suddenly got a little smaller.
She began with… ‘so I have scanned baby and I cannot find any abnormalities with her anatomy’. (This is where I felt my heart fall out my chest , with small relief). Baby does not appear to have any defects and all is perfectly formed. ‘However’ ….. (There is always a but or however isn’t there , well there is always in my world)
Her head and tummy are within normal range for measurements , although she is still in the small 10% of babies, her arms and legs are measuring shorter for what is expected, making her measurements 3rd percentile. So im like okay … I have known this for a while, what does that mean? How short are we talking?! The response was just ‘reasonably shorter’. Great that helps … Not !
She said there were four areas to discuss for thought ,
1. My dates are wrong – this is highly unlikely as I had an early scan … So that one can be ruled out straight away.
2. Constitutionally small – she could just be petite naturally, however I could read her thoughts as she looked me up and down, that with a mother at 5ft 6 and 34 inch pins she certainly isn’t following her mums genes.
3. Placenta insufficiency or malnutrition due to my poor maternal health – she said that with placenta insufficiency you would expect her tummy to be small as well so maybe it isn’t as sufficient as you would think. However the bit about my poor health definitely feels more fitting. I can’t see how me being so ill wouldn’t have affected her , I didn’t eat for 5 weeks that’s enough to affect any bodies growth. I mean I weigh 10 stone now pregnant, taking into account baby weight and fluid . I have weighed more than this healthy and not pregnant so I clearly have taken a battering let alone mini me. Not to mention the drug therapy and mineral deficiencies I now battle with every day.
Then she saved the best for last ..
4. Chromosomal disorders and infection – big sigh. So the chance of her shortened arms could be down to disorders such as Down’s syndrome and dwarfism, amongst the many rare genetic disorders that develop at conception. She explained that I could have the amnio testing to rule out any of these by them sticking a needle in my tummys I take some of the fluid for testing. At 31 weeks there would be a slight chance of pre term labour; not exactly what I want considering I have a logistical nightmare of a c section planned anyway.
So here I am sitting in this room thinking well on Monday you were worried about fluid and placenta issues, along with her bladder. Today all of those things come back just within normal range and we have a new set of decisions and potential problems … so do I have a needle test or not? Great. I’m starting to feel like is anything even accurate anyway the amount of times things chop and change. It’s like wading through jelly trying to understand what is and what actually isn’t a problem.
So I ring Matt who is at work … what am I supposed to do?! I’m sick of worrying about worrying and scrutinising results, blaming myself for doing this to her and googling problems and searching for answers. I’ve had enough I don’t want another two weeks of worry waiting for a test to come back. At this point I’ll be a couple weeks away from a c section anyway … Would we really even consider termination if anything was wrong … ?! Of course we wouldn’t . Little too late in the day for that.. So for her to even mention it was enough to send me into deep panic. I guess they have to cover all bases.
Matt saved the day anyway … My voice of reason. He refuses to let me have anymore trauma, anymore tests and anymore worry. It wouldn’t change the outcome anyway so why bother putting ourselves through it. This filled me with relief. I just needed someone to make the decision for me, of course I would go through it if Matt wanted to know but he doesn’t care, nor do I. We love our perfectly formed baby girl anyway regardless of any possible disorders … No medicine would change that so we are meant to welcome her into the world no matter what she is. Small arms or legs or not. I cannot bare to think about the pain families must go through if they had to make a choice at this stage, it’s horrendous. Logically she has just told me she is formed so logically why do I need to know anymore ?
So we are sticking by our guns. Sometimes a leap of faith and instinct is all you need for these things … And the positives are she is wriggling around and seems happy. If she is a little small and doesn’t catch up then so what, I’m not being told there are major deformities nor am I being told she has stopped growing. All my tests came back low risk at the start of pregnancy for stuff like chromosomal disorders anyway so we will just see what happens when she is here 🙂 after all she has still got 9 weeks until her proper due date, give the wee girl a break she knows her head and tummy are more important to grow right!? So I just had the blood tests for infection plus skeletal disorders, bloods are easy and no risk, so as long as these come back okay that is final. No. more. tests.
I took a trip to see my crohns consultant in the afternoon to talk about various crohns gripes. I’m struggling as I get bigger… I talked her through my report and to add to comfort she agreed I was doing the right thing. No more stress. She is no baby doctor but you can’t ignore all the positive signs … it was so nice for her to give her genuine opinion rather than some medical robotic response of the list of options. I know everyone is scared of being sued these days but sometimes on these subjects patient care needs to be a little less impersonal. It goes a long way. She also confirmed a lot of the infection tests I have already had and they are negative anyway. So straight away half the tests I had in the morning I can disregard. (Thank the Lord)
So I’m back next week for another scan , and then week after is preparation C section meeting with the team. Until then me and bubba bump are going to eat like queens where possible, do lots of chilling and listening to music. Get those little arms and legs dancing …
So thank you fetal medicine for your time I’m still very grateful for what everyone is doing for us, but for now I’m leaving it to fate 🙂 what will be will be.