Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gratitude, Part 3

May the blessings of heaven rain down on the effeminate man at the perinatologist's office who expedited my paperwork and got me an appointment for Friday afternoon. We'd only have to wait 48 hours between appointments to hear more news.

Thursday morning, things felt different. Mike had held me the night before while I tried to turn off my brain and get some sleep. He had given me a blessing. We talked as much as we were ready to talk. When I woke up the next day, I felt peace. Still a little unsettled, but with a new perspective.

The overwhelming emotion I felt was gratitude. I had endured horrible morning sickness from week 5 to week 18, and suddenly I was so grateful that I had had the opportunity to experience morning sickness at all. If I could only be pregnant once, at least I would have the full experience. Mike and I had to try for several months to get pregnant. Though I was scared of what might happen with my placenta, I was thankful we even got pregnant at all.

I was thankful we moved to San Antonio. When we moved here, we felt like we should live in an apartment complex that wasn't very convenient to Mike's school. Though we're farther away from his campus, we're just a few minutes from the South Texas Medical Center, an enormous resource of experts and specialists. We live near people who can help us. We live near state-of-the-art facilities. We have insurance to cover it all. We are surrounded by people who can get us out of the worst case scenario. We are so lucky.

I was grateful we switched from our Elmer Fuddian OB to the midwife practice. Our midwife delivered this news in the kindest, most compassionate way. Any lesser bedside manner would have devastated me. I'm grateful we had a thorough ultrasound tech. She caught a potential problem. Maybe a different tech wouldn't have caught it.

I still had moments of intense fear. Thursday night, I started to panic again. I knelt by our bed and started to pray but broke down, sobbing. Mike came in. "I can't do this," I told him. "It's the waiting that's getting to me."

We crawled in bed and Mike held me and comforted me as best he could. He was worried too, but so grateful that I was healthy. It was the closest I had ever felt to my husband.

Friday morning, we were both on pins and needles. I felt too tired to think or talk about all the what-ifs anymore.

Finally, it was time to speak to the specialist. It is very difficult to give a urine sample when you're nervous, for the record. After a mountain of paperwork, a woman led me and Mike to an ultrasound room. We waited for about 20 minutes for the tech to come in. She asked what brought us in today as she flipped through my paperwork.

I explained the preliminary placenta accreta diagnosis.

"How many previous C-sections have you had?" she asked.

"None," I said. "This is my first pregnancy."

She frowned and squinted at my charts, muttering to herself.

"Well, let's start with baby. Do you know what you're having yet?"

The tech had fun determining our baby's gender. (This is a recurring characteristic among ultrasound techs, in my experience. And our little guy is an obliging exhibitionist.) She took us through all his anatomy again, showing us how perfect he was. 65th percentile for size. Slightly above average! Just what we want in our children.

"Okay. Let's look at the placenta now." The tech began to dig around in a long examination of my placenta. We watched her measure the circumference of each of the larger black spots on the screen. She scanned every last inch of the border of the placenta. The exam was so rigorous. It was actually painful after a while.

"Well, this is not placenta accreta," the tech said.

My first thought was HALLELUJAH! I was so relieved. No hysterectomy looming over us, none of the horrible possibilities we had imagined over the past two days. I squeezed the daylights out of Mike's hand.

I was surprised the tech said anything at all; I thought that would be the doctor's job. But hey, good news is good news, right?

"However, I've been scanning for 20 years, and I've never seen anything like this."

Well, great.

Our perinatologist eventually came to our room after conferring somewhere else with the ultrasound tech. The doctor, a stunningly beautiful woman of Haitian heritage, smiled at us as she picked up the ultrasound wand and started to look at my placenta. She explained to us that the dark spots, a common appearance of placenta accreta, were actually blood clots. She showed us the imaging of the endometrium. It was unbroken throughout the edge of the placenta. So no bonding between the placenta and the uterus.

But I did--and still do--have blood clots in my placenta. "We don't see intervillous thrombi very often. At all. I don't think I've seen it since I've been here." A recurring theme.

"We don't really know much about them," the doctor continued. "We don't know how they form, or why. There's no clear complication of thrombi, either. That is, we can't really predict if they will hurt you or the baby."

As best as she could tell, the blood clots are my own blood, not the baby's. Because the placenta is so critical to the baby's growth, the doctor said we couldn't do any sort of direct testing on it right now, especially while it was doing its job so well.

The doctor told us to return every four weeks for monitoring. If the baby's growth seemed to flag, i.e. if the placenta stopped doing its job, I would deliver at 35 weeks after a treatment of steroids to build up the baby's lungs. Barring any growth issues, we could expect to try for a normal, vaginal birth. Since our midwife group shares an office with its associate ob/gyn group, I'll be monitored by a ob/gyn specialist, in case things do go south during delivery and some sort of drastic intervention were required.

People, today marks 30 weeks. Baby is big and healthy and active. Every time I visit the perinatologist, the doctor and ultrasound tech shake their heads as they measure the blood clots. We know those clots very well by now. No one knows why they're there, but we know they never change size, which means no blood is leaking anywhere.

I wonder if I needed a little scare to fully appreciate the miracle happening in my body right now. If I needed a reminder to be grateful.

We're still not in the clear yet. Until the baby is in our arms and the placenta detaches properly, we can't be 100% sure that everything is alright. And until the placenta is tested after delivery, we won't know if I have a clotting problem (though all blood test results to date have been completely normal) or some other bizarre disorder that gives me a funky placenta.

What I am sure of is the great gift that it is to conceive and have all the million and one tiny factors come together for a healthy baby. I am so grateful for God's plan for me, even if it had included (or may yet include) a great devastation. I'm excited to meet our son. I'm grateful for blood clots. I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude for my sweet, affectionate, supportive, gentle husband. He has been a wonderful help during this roller coaster of a pregnancy.

I'm just grateful.


  1. Wow, Just wow! You are amazing, and yes Heavenly Father DOES love you and your little man growing inside you tummy.

    1. Thanks, Tiffany. I loved following your pregnancy, and seeing a happy, healthy Max makes me so excited for what lies ahead of me!!

  2. LOVE this. Your little man is going to be your sweet lil miracle baby. We can't wait to meet him!

    1. Thanks, Laura. He won't be too young to marry Livy, right??

  3. Yay! So happy to hear that! I've heard multiple cases about doctors who tell their patients something that freaks them out and has them worried the whole time, only for everything to turn out alright. I hope this is your case!

    1. I know! Another reason to be grateful; at least our problems were less serious than we originally thought, and not the other way around.

  4. Beyond happy for you. I will never forget that day you came over--between ultrasound and specialist visit--and told me about your diagnosis. When Jay got home that night, I put my arms around him and just cried. I am so glad things are going so well, and I am determined to meet your sweet little man someday.

    1. Thanks for being my shoulder to cry on that day. I couldn't handle being in my house alone. And thanks for letting me come over and snuggle with your newborn. It helped me keep perspective.

  5. So happy to hear this happy ending. I've been on pins and needles the last few days and thinking about you lots. Glad that baby boy is growing well and that you're doing well too. If you need anything let me know!

  6. What a great post, Hilary! Been thinking of you - we will miss you in July, but you're so where you need to be. Can't wait to hear how little Lemon enters thsi world - for sure he's going to change it.

  7. Oh my goodness, I'm so glad for you! We had some different type of scares when I was pregnant with Deborah (and ended up having to go to a specialist & get monitored & an ultra sound every week too - it's scary!), but it was a blessing as it brought Derek & I so much closer together, & it all worked out it in the end. PS - I agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY that google is a nightmare when you look up possible complications. Horrid - horrid - horrid. Prayers go your way that all goes well until after delivery for you too. Excited to see your little baby boy!

  8. YAY!!! A huge blessing. We'll still keep you in our prayers.

  9. you are such a good writer, and yes google is horrible isnt it. im glad you ahve good doctors keeping a close eye on you.

  10. Hilary I wish I could write more than a small comment to you right now. I am so full of emotion after reading this. I have been thinking about you, worried for you, and heart broken for you. I am so overjoyed that it looks like everything will be ok and that you don't have placenta accreta. I loved the part when you said you had never felt closer to your husband-because I have felt that so much throughout our IVF journey. It seems when things are the hardest, you draw together the closest. Love ya girl, you are amazing, you have a strength that not everyone has. I am so excited for you to hold your precious baby boy!!!