“So everything looked great today,” the ultrasound tech said as she wrapped up our anatomy scan. “But I do have one TINY concern. Nothing to worry about at all. I’m going to have the doctor talk to you before you leave. Your baby is supposed to have two arteries and one vein going into the umbilical cord, but it only has one. No big deal.”
My heart sank.
I felt the way my niece must feel after she falls or bumps herself and I scoop her up and tell her she’s fine before she has the chance to react or cry. Stunned. Confused. Not worried? Kind of worried. Panicky.
My wife and I looked at each other, and I think my eyes started to well up a little. “Seriously, you guys. Happens all the time. Practically normal. You’re VIP today so I’m going to grab the doctor and he’ll come out to get you in the waiting room.”
My brother-in-law happened to work on a play with one of the doctors of this particular MFM practice, so he called her and asked if she could help to ensure that we were placed with my sister-in-law’s favorite ultrasound tech (since she just had my niece two years ago and basically knew them all.)
My wife and I walked silently to the waiting room, and I began frantically googling once my butt hit the chair.
Low birth weight.
My face must have registered my panic. “You need to turn your phone off and stop googling, now.” My wife glared at me.
By the time the doctor called us back, I already had a list of questions ready. He explained that while Single Umbilical Artery (SUA) is often found in conjunction with other problems – including chromosomal abnormalities – it is often found on its own and in those cases it is simply a variation of normal. Pregnancies progress with no problem and babies are born perfectly healthy. Of course, if SUA is caused by another factor: it could lead to a host of other problems, but he recommended a fetal echocardiogram and monthly growth scans and sent us on our way.
“Do you think we should hold off on buying the crib?” my wife asked. My eyes welled up. “I mean, just in case…you know…”
Nope. No way.
This is my baby. This is our baby. There are no guarantees with pregnancy. Ever. If this child isn’t meant to be ours forever, it is at least ours now and I plan to prepare as though it will live a very long life. And that means purchasing the convertible crib we picked out that will follow our child into adulthood once it turns into a full sized bed.
(Side note: it still took me a month to buy the damn crib, but not because of the SUA. I’m partially indecisive and partially a procrastinator, but the crib is officially on order as of two days ago.)
An appointment with our regular OB the following day, provided more of the same information.
Variation of normal.
Early testing showed no signs of chromosomal abnormalities.
Fetal echo and growth scans will help us monitor things.
A week later, we went in for the fetal echocardiogram which was done at our local MFM by a pediatric cardiologist from one of the leading children’s hospitals in our area, and she said that baby’s heart is looking PERFECT and she has no cause for concern. She confirmed what two other doctors (and my best friend, a Nurse Practitioner) all also confirmed: this appears to be a stand alone case of SUA with no other complicating issues, and we have every right to hope for a normal pregnancy and birth.
(although my friend added that we should likely not expect to go past my August 12th due date, as research suggests that babies with SUA should be delivered on or before their expected due dates to prevent further complications and since we are 100% certain of the due date because of our IVF procedure, I can expect that we’ll be meeting this kid in 113 days or less).
What a rollercoaster ride pregnancy is.
We started out fearful. Afraid to get our hopes up. Anxiously waiting.
For the 12th week.
For the heartbeat.
For the kicks.
For the week of viability.
And throughout that process, the little milestones set your heart on fire. Those first kicks. (oh, those first kicks). Those ultrasound pictures. Those sweet little baby belongings that pile up in the guest bedroom (that is really no longer a guest bedroom) waiting to be washed and sorted and put into the baby’s closet and drawers.
Then you get some kind of crazy news. Either a health problem for you, or a potential complication for baby.
And if you’re lucky, it resolves itself.
A hole in the heart.
Sometimes it doesn’t. If you’re lucky, you still get to walk away healthy at the end with a sweet little babe to raise.
Then there are the ones that don’t walk away. Either at all, or with a baby. And those hurt my heart and scare me the most.
Bu then you feel another kick.
And everything feels right in the world.
Overall I feel so incredibly blessed. I have wanted this experience for longer than I can remember.
My mom said that when my sister was born [I was 17 months old at the time] she would find me trying to “breastfeed” my own dolls like she would feed my sister. When I got a little older, I would stuff a rolled up blanket under my shirt and tell her I was pregnant.
When I got older, still, I got this doll: it was Magic Nursery doll (shout out to my fellow 80s/90s mamas!) and it came in this pouch that you could wear on your belly (like a backwards backpack of sorts) and when you pushed a button it would mimic kicking sensations). I mean…in retrospect, it was probably a bad idea and maybe contributed to the rise in teen pregnancy rates in my generation…but I thought it was SO AMAZING and anxiously awaited the day when I’d feel it for real. I was like…8-years-old, y’all.
My sisters and I used to play “house” all the time as well. I was ALWAYS the mom, and had a plethora of children of assorted ages.
I get that having a baby is half of the process. Raising a human is the larger – inevitably more important half – and over the years, my dreams of baby kicks and snuggles grew to include teaching a toddler about being kind, and teaching a elementary school child to learn, and love art, and volunteer. Now my dreams even include watching a young adult graduate from high school, college, grad school, and whatever level of education and reach any level of success that his/her heart can possibly dream of: enjoying life and friends and art and culture and every piece of joy that the world has to offer in the process.
But first, I can’t wait to snuggle them.
And now…I can’t wait for that next kick.
Every day I realize how lucky I am. I try to remember to say a prayer of gratitude every night (not always successful, but I’m working on it). This was my dream. This IS my dream. And I am so thankful for it all. And with that, I leave you with what was my favorite printed shot from the anatomy scan session.
(have you EVER seen such a cute little foot?)