Friday, January 23, 2009

Ann-Marie and the Very Bad News, Very Good News Day

When my OB recommended I see the new Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) doctor hired by Swedes (short for SwedishAmerican Hospital), his reasoning was that I would have an initial consult only.

Then IF I developed any problems (due to my pre-diabetic and hypertension conditions) and had to go to MFM, the doctor would be familiar with my case.

I wasn’t nervous at first. If anything, I was excited to know I would be receiving another ultrasound, my 4th in the first trimester.

The MFM Department is nestled in a tiny alcove which is only accessible by a special elevator in the heart of the pediatric department. As I wound my way through the tangled maze of hallways, I heard horrible screaming.

A nurse passed me in the hallway and smiled at me, “That little boy does not want that shot!”

I laughed and then cringed. I, myself, am not crazy about shots.

The MFM Department was peacefully quiet, and I was the only patient in sight. The newly hired MFM doctor is so new to the hospital that he doesn’t have many patients yet. I filled out my family history, noting my conditions, Dad’s death from a heart attack, and Grandpa Trotter’s death from diabetes.

In short order, I was ushered into the state-of-the-art ultrasound facilities of the MFM. I was in awe to be receiving an ultrasound on such new, sparkly equipment. The ultrasound technician was a warm, fuzzy person, as opposed to the Ice Queen I experienced during my due date ultrasound.

She exclaimed over my pregnancy and then proceeded to take her time doing the ultrasound. I was surprised at her attention to detail. I attribute this to two factors – first, I was the only patient, and she had no reason to rush. Secondly, MFM deals only with high-risk patients, so she couldn’t afford to miss anything.

The technician used three different scopes to do the ultrasound. She spent a little time in 2D, but switched over to 4D (it is called 4D, I asked!) relatively quickly. Baby Sod wasn’t cooperating for many whole body photos, but the technician managed to get me four new photos – one full body shot, a perfect little hand, a precious foot, and an (already) expressive face.

The photo of Baby Sod’s face is my first favorite. In it, my child looks thoughtful, as if orating on some great point. My second favorite is of the alien-like arm, and the long, tapered fingers. The baby has Brett’s hands most definitely. I would recognize those fingers anywhere!

The photos are fun to look at, although a little disconcerting. Several of the photos portray my baby as having a human body and an Impressionist painting for a face. Another one indicated I am carrying my very own Benjamin Button.

At one point during the ultrasound, Baby Sod turned, looked straight out at the monitor and started talking! Well, okay, I didn’t hear any sounds, but the baby was CLEARLY talking in the womb.

Is this my child or what?

Last night, I was telling Brett about the baby’s first conversation with Mommy. Brett smiled and said, “I’ll bet he was saying how much he loves you!”

I shook my head. “This is your child, too, you know. He was probably asking where the remote was, and why he doesn’t get better reception in the womb.”

After the half-hour ultrasound, I was able to meet Doctor K, the MFM Specialist. I was pleasantly surprised he was so sad to have missed the ultrasound. He was inches away from asking me to get back up the table, stopping only when he said it wouldn’t be fair to subject me to two vaginal ultrasounds in one day. (My kind of doctor!)

Dr. K looks way different in person than he did in my imagination. He looks exactly like one of the professors I had at Moody – Dr. McNickle. His appearance wasn’t the only thing that differed from my fantasy.

In my mind, I saw the appointment going another way. I thought Dr. K (who was a woman then) would look over my chart and say, “Well, you’ve got a few risk factors, but you’re going to be okay. Just call us if you have any trouble. Y’all come back now.”

Instead, I spent almost two hours in a consultation with Dr. K who was so interested in my file that he decided to take me on as his patient. He patiently poured over my risk factors and medical history with me (and the medical student who was observing him that day).

She was gorgeous enough to be distracting. I wanted to ask her why she wanted to be a doctor when she clearly could have a career as a supermodel. But she was very sweet, and we definitely hit it off.

Dr. K started making changes to my life right away. He told me I would be going off my oral diabetic meds. Instead, I would be injecting myself with insulin 3 times a day.

I don’t have gestational diabetes, but because I have a problem with blood sugar, he said we are going to act as if I have Type Two diabetes – at least during my pregnancy. Also, because the oral meds pass to the baby and insulin shots do not, it’s safer for the baby if I’m on insulin. After pregnancy, I’ll get re-tested to see if diabetes is still a factor.

My hypertension condition was also a major point of concern. Dr. K doubled the dosage on my blood pressure meds. He’s also arranging for me to see a cardiologist to catch any possible heart conditions.

As I tried to absorb all the information – he dropped bomb after well-meaning bomb of what-could-go-wrongs – he eventually took notice of the look on my face, as I stared dismally down at my two pages of notes.

“We don’t want you to leave here crying,” he said. “But we also don’t want to sugarcoat things for you. When you deal with MFM, we’ll tell you the truth and work to help you as much as possible.”

Don’t ask me why, but the idea of an honest doctor made me feel marginally better.

But not good enough to prevent morning sickness. Which I had. In the new, shiny, clean MFM department. But, they are clearly used to pregnant women, so everyone was quite compassionate.

The good news, Dr. K informed me – desperate to finally give me some good news - was that I would be receiving an ultrasound once a month on the gorgeous MFM equipment. He told me they’ll be doing growth scans, echo-cardiograms, anatomy scans, and all sorts of test that would medically (and covered-by-insurance) guarantee my being able to see the baby in my womb on a regular basis.

“You’re going to get so sick of our office,” he told me with a grandfatherly grin.

“I don’t think so,” I told him. “This office is where I’m going to see my baby grow.”

“I was hoping you’d think of it that way,” he agreed.

I spent the elevator ride back down to pediatrics with conflicted emotions. I’d received a lot of bad news - news that will significantly complicate my life over the next six months.

And yet…

I’d seen my baby in the womb.

Dr. K assured me the ultrasound was “perfect,” and that Baby Sod is developing at the proper rate with a heart beat well within range. I had seen Baby’s Sod’s little spine, all those interlinking bones flexing and moving in sync.

The photos show the impossible. Life formed by God’s hands in the recesses of my womb. Something – clearly something – only God could do.

God brought me to Dr. K, and I know God is managing this pregnancy through the efficiency and expertise of some of the best doctors in the area. I trust and obey the doctors, but put my faith in God. God’s hands to guide the doctors; God’s hands to be evident in the big and small details of my life…my child’s life.

I headed towards the exit and passed once again through the pediatric department.

Echoes in my mind repeated the screams I’d heard earlier, as I realized soon I would be injecting myself with shots of insulin.

I hope Brett doesn’t mind a little screaming.


Anouk said...

Will be praying - shots are no fun, but the baby is worth it! My "shots" of long waits and not so good news are no fun - but I know the boys are worth it. I know it's not the same, but I couldn't help compare the two!
Love, Anouk

Alice said...

I love seeing the's like a little string of pearls. Each time you see the baby is so exciting; I'm glad you'll get a glimpse once a month! It makes the waiting not so bad...

Phil said...

Ha! Your title reminds me of one of my favorite children's books. ;o)

I was trying to picture Dr. McNickle. I guess I don't really remember what he looks like.

You are on my daily prayer list, girl! Hang in there. (((Hugs)))

Valorie said...

Ummm...sorry. Apparently my husband never signed out. That last comment is mine, not Phil's. SORRY! ;o)

The Silsbee Family said...

I'm delighted to hear that "Baby Sod" is doing very well. Any chance Brett can administer those insulin shots for you? :)

The Beard Bunch said...

Oh, can I relate :) Being a diabetic, I am used to all of the attention while pregnant. The doctors seemed to be especially protective of me and my baby. As you said, it is a good thing, though not always comfortable. I had SOOOOOO many ultrasounds and SOOOOOOOO many tests, so if you ever need someone to relate to, send me an e-mail. I am glad to see you are in special hands. The shots----well, you will do good for yourself in the legs and/or stomach, but it is nice to have someone to help with the arms. You are in my prayers.

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

Ohhhhh, yikes!! I used to go in for quarterly shots, and it was awful. Daily?? THREE times a day? Oh, the things we do for our children.
I'm still praying for you. And I'm so grateful that you are in good hands, with state-of-the-art equipment. This baby is well cared for already!

Juliet said...

I'm so glad that Baby Sod is in our gracious heavenly Father's hand. By God's grace you and I will be able to hold her (or maybe him) in our hands.

You know my prayers are with you daily! Love MOM

Heidi said...

I definitely don't envy you for the shots, but I have negative blood, so I had to have a couple of shots myself before and after babies were born.
Having monthly ultrasounds is great though. It is fun to see into the womb month to month and get new pictures. Just make sure you share those pictures.
Still praying for you.