Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Moving Forward with Faith

I'm almost 19 weeks pregnant with baby #2, and my anatomy ultrasound is quickly approaching. In fact, it's tomorrow!

For most parents, this ultrasound is highly anticipated as the "long one" where you get a great view of baby, get to see all of their body photos, and take home beautiful photos. You can usually find out what you're having, and I've even heard this ultrasound being referred to as the "gender scan."

While I am excited to possibly find out if we're having a son or another daughter, this ultrasound is very stressful for me.

Joel and I (and our families!) have been on a wild ride with Leah and it all started with that darn 19 week ultrasound.


On May 9th, 2012, almost exactly 2 years ago, I had the ultrasound where we found out we were having a baby girl. The technician showed us all of her body parts, and we went home and celebrated with our families that night.

The next day, I went out and bought her first "girly clothes" - a dress, romper, elephant outfit and frilly socks. I proudly announced to everyone in the store that I was having a daughter.

Then we got the call.

My primary midwife was away so we had another midwife call who we had just met the day before. It wasn't good.

Our baby girl had a cyst in her brain.


She had a spot on her heart (echogenic focus).


We were also initially told she had a slightly enlarged heart, which ended up being misread, in fact, our little sweetie had enlarged ventricles of the brain, not heart, and a 'prominent' third ventricle of the brain.

This one didn't mean too much to us at the time, but of course, it was terrifying too.

Not only were these things seemingly worrying in themselves, they were also markers for trisomy 18 or 21 (Down Syndrome). Trisomy 18 is known to be "incompatible with life."

The second page of my ultrasound report
This sent us into a crazy tailspin. Mother's Day was rough. The following Monday we had an ultrasound at Oakville hospital that wasn't very reassuring. The doctor kept pointing out things in our baby's brain to the others in the room, and didn't seem to know what to make of it. At the end, I asked what he thought, and he said when they see that many markers it leads them to wonder about trisomy 13 or 18. And that was it.

He referred us to Mount Sinai hospital in Toronto. Our appointment wasn't for another 2 weeks. Although it was worrying, through all of this I had a surprising sense of calm about me. I did cry. For sure I cried, and I had breakdowns. I googled and read things I shouldn't have and imagined the worst. But there were so many moments where I simply sat - or laid - in prayer, feeling my baby move inside of me. We had been told multiple times she was spunky, which made me smile.
I was proud of her. I loved her. I was her mother. And somehow knew that no matter what, everything would be okay.

The day of the appointment, Joel and I both took the day off work and took the train into the city together. The waiting room was extremely tense; I'm sure it was full of worried mothers and fathers just like us, wondering what the future held for their pregnancies and children.

We had the nicest doctor ever who went through both of our medical histories, previous tests and ultrasounds, and did an extremely long and thorough ultrasound, showing us the screen the whole time.

Our baby looked normal. Healthy. The cyst and echogenic focus has disappeared, and there were no other hard or soft markers found for any disorder.

He even gave us a couple of 3D shots of our princess!

Next we saw another doctor who also reassured us our baby looked healthy. The ventricles (fluid-filled spaces) of her brain, while slightly enlarged, were within the normal range.

The "prominent ventricle" was thought to be another cyst, "of no clinical significance" at its small size.

We were scheduled for another ultrasound at 33 weeks and offered amniocentesis to confirm what they were pretty sure of, but we declined, seeing it as too risky. We were sent home with a great sense of relief and excitement about the future.

For our next ultrasound, we had the same doctor from Oakville who wasn't very reassuring the first time around. He wanted to do a brain ultrasound on our baby after she was born, which we agreed to.

We were fearful, but still felt confident she was healthy.

Fast forward to Leah's birth. We weren't expecting any complications, but surprise! she had respiratory distress at birth and spent 4 days in the NICU recovering from a pneumothorax (collapsed lung).

She came home healthy, having completely healed on her own.

For us, it was just our experience of birth since she was our first, but it was really heartbreaking to have to spend so much time apart from her when we had just met.

Leah had her brain ultrasound at 2 weeks old and it came back clear.

Finally, we were done with these scares!! Or so we thought.

Then Leah started twitching and having jerky movements in her sleep. We caught it on video and showed our midwives, who referred us to a pediatrician.

We were told they could be seizures, and the pediatrician had us take Leah for an EEG at McMaster hospital. My poor baby had to go through so many tests. This came back slightly abnormal.

Gah! So of course, we were worried sick.

So we went again, and this one came back normal. We were told she was simply a twitchy sleeper! It stopped soon after, thankfully. Having done a bit of research on my own I feel that she might have had benign neonatal sleep myoclonus, but I mentioned this to my family doctor and he didn't have much to say, so I'm not sure.

Around her first birthday, Leah developed a heart murmur. Come on! Thankfully this cleared up by her next appointment and no further tests have been needed.

Like I said, it has been a wild ride!!

Parenting can be so stressful because you love and worry about your child so much.

Even though Leah is perfectly healthy, it is scary to be going through another pregnancy.

But you know what? It's worth it. It's so worth it.

Leah is the coolest, smartest, sweetest and cutest kid I know. I'm so blessed to be her Mommy.

If we have to go through it all again, I gladly will. God sees us through the good times and the bad, and has blessed our family immensely, and I am so thankful.

Leah running up to hug me while Joel took 'bump' shots!

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