Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yesterday was a good day.

Yesterday morning, we had our 3D ultrasound at BabyVision Ultrasound.

Right ear.  Baby looks so much like Doug here.
 I hadn't intended at first to get a 3D ultrasound, though we'd floated the idea.  It just didn't seem right to see the baby ahead of that first meeting.  But given the very real possibility of a stillbirth, the idea of seeing the baby alive obviously took on greater significance.

Now, we went into this intending to pay for it.  We don't make a habit of asking for things for free.  But when Erik explained the situation, they offered to do it gratis.  Given that, I expected a fairly cursory scan and a few pictures.  What we were actually given, though, was a 15-minute scan, seven printed pictures, a CD with 31 photos, and a DVD of the whole scan.  This doesn't neatly fit into any of their packages, but the closest one is $200.  We also wanted to buy a Heartbeat Bear, which is a teddy bear that has a recording of the baby's heartbeat inside, but they gave that to us without charge as well.
This is the heartbeat bear.

So there was that aspect of it; it was amazingly generous.  But the more important aspect of it is one that I can't quantify.  The woman who did our ultrasound was incredibly friendly, and enthusiastic about Psalm-Angel.  She treated the ultrasound like a normal ultrasound and Psalm-Angel like a normal baby.  She showed us his/her ear and arm and leg.  We saw the heartbeat up on the screen.  It was all really amazing.

You can see the baby's heart pretty clearly here.

We had another midwife appointment that afternoon.  It was pretty run-of-the-mill except for needing to take my glucose tolerance test; this required drinking what I called the Devil's Kool-Aid.  I didn't have any trouble with it last pregnancy, but I barely got it down this time around, and got pretty woozy after my blood draw.

That draw also included three vials for the MaterniT21 test.  This is generally used to check for chromosomal defects, but in my case it is more to determine the baby's sex, since there's no other way to do it.  So we'll eventually be doing a reveal for that, which isn't something I ever expected to find myself doing.  It's OK though.

When I was there, I asked Kim whether we could get a printout strip of the baby's heartbeat.  She was willing, and had one of the nurses walk me down to the NST room--the same one where I had my non-stress test for Doug--and I was hooked up for about half an hour and got a nice long strip.  It was good to see, and amusing to hear the baby smacking against the heartrate monitor.

Printout of the baby's heart rate, from the office.

With all this, I very nearly feel a sense of closure.  Of readiness.  I told the baby yesterday, Just a few more days until your sisters get home.  Give me one more week and then you can go home whenever you need to.

Obviously, I don't want it to end this soon.  But I am feeling more ready to face it.

You can see the omphalocele clearly in this picture.

Today I am feeling a bit fragile.  I think this is my new normal for now.  The baby's positioning has me worried.  S/he seems to have an arm up above his/her head and a leg up in front of his/her face.  I am not sure what that means for a vaginal delivery.  I'm going to the midwives weekly from now on, and plan to take a print-out to discuss it next week.

If you look just above the baby's head, you can see both the arm and the leg going up.

The other thing that has me a bit worried is the baby's heart rate.  Until yesterday, it was holding steadily in the 140s, as all my babies' have.  Yesterday it was 123 or so at the ultrasound, 130-something in-office, and varied from the 120s to the 140s most of the time I was hooked up to the monitor, with a couple of worrisome drops into the 90s.  Anywhere from 120 to 160 is normal.  A change from mid-range to the low end makes me nervous, though.  In researching the normal range yesterday evening, I ran across a couple of mentions of the heart rate slowing down closer to birth, but even that said the norm was in the 130s.

This is the heart rate displayed on screen. Very neat.

So I think we may be nearing the end, and even though I am as ready as I'll ever be, I'll never really be ready.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

I said in an earlier post I thought there was only one other woman in the support group I belong to who was also pregnant.  I was wrong.  There are a handful or more.  I'm not sure how many entirely.

I started to write a post yesterday, and didn't, and it turned out to be a good decision as these things go, because things have changed.

The thing about a diagnosis like LBWC is this.  You know the outcome.  You just don't know when the outcome will happen.

This week, two women in the group have birthed and lost their babies.  One, on Wednesday, who was in the same week of pregnancy I am in.  I read her announcement as I was feeling Psalm-Angel move around inside me.  The other was just today; she was further along.  But the outcome was still the same.


On a different note, I want to update my earlier research into how long these pregnancies last with info from the support group (I've done my best to ensure I didn't repeat anyone whose story I have from elsewhere, but it is a possibility).

Previous info looked like this:

  • 28, 29, 30, 35,  36, & 38 weeks each had 1 birth.
  • 31 weeks had two births
  • 34 weeks had 3 births
  • 32 weeks had 4 births.
 This is the new info:

  • 27 weeks: 1 birth
  • 28 & 29 weeks: 1 birth
  • 30,  31,  35 & 38 weeks: 2 births
  • 32 weeks: 5 births
  • 33 weeks: 4 births
  • 34 weeks: 6 births
  • 36 weeks: 3 births
So, that's actually a pretty big difference.  Twenty-nine births total.  New average is 32.9 weeks, so almost 33 weeks, but 34 weeks has the highest number total.  Still, only two people have made it to term.  (Term being 37+ weeks, and what an odd thing it is that no one has given birth in week 37.)

Not sure how much meaning any of it has, but somehow math is comforting

Friday, July 18, 2014


Overheard at work today...

"How's the baby? It's getting close, yeah? October?"

Sigh. "Yeah." It's getting close, all right...

I'm still here. Still not curled up in the fetal position at the prospect of losing our son/daughter, but that sure as hell isn't to say that I don't want to be, or that I'm not having a hard time with this. I'm going along as best I can, but there are still some days.

Like I said elsewhere before, though, sometimes I don't cry. Sometimes my anguish just channels itself into my hands shaking...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Finished the baby's blanket, gown, and cap.

The blanket is soft cotton yarn Erik picked out.  The cap and gown are very, very soft alpaca yarn I picked out.

This project was very difficult for me.  There was much starting and stopping because of how much it hurt to make the only things my dear one will wear in this world.

At the same time, though, it was a healing process.  I have spoken before about having to set aside all the projects I had been working on for the baby, and how much it hurt.  Making things I know Psalm-Angel will be able to wear was wonderful.  I've made things for all the rest of my children; this ties this baby in to them.  In to my family.  It's lovely, in the end.

Friday, July 11, 2014

It's not the same

One of the support groups I participate in has the mantra that all loss is the same, be it a miscarriage or a stillbirth.

I disagree with this.

I've had a miscarriage, and I'm now going through a pregnancy with a fatal diagnosis, and the pain is different.

This is not to belittle miscarriage.  It hurts and there is a definite grieving process and in many ways it is very very similar to stillbirth/neonatal loss.  But it is not the same.

Even early miscarriage isn't the same as late miscarriage.  Losing a baby at 8 weeks when you've only just begun to get used to the idea of pregnancy and a baby is different from losing a baby at 18 or 19 or 20 weeks, when you've already started debating names and maybe have even felt the baby move.  And those are both different from going through a pregnancy knowing the outcome will be horrible.

I've been told "I had a miscarriage, I know what you're going through."  No, no you don't.  You can probably guess what I'm going through and how I feel, and you may well even get pretty close, but you don't know.  I didn't know.  I knew what it was like to have a miscarriage, to have a surgical procedure done to relieve the physical pain and realize afterward that nothing's going to help the emotional pain but time and lots of it.

But I did not experience anticipatory grief.  I had not felt my baby move in me, had not treasured hiccups and then cried because once birth arrived, my baby would leave.

Even now, I realize I only know what I know.

I do not, for instance, know what it is like to have a stillbirth when you were expecting a healthy baby.  And honestly, I think that's got to be worse than what I'm dealing with.  I know.  I can prepare.  I had only bought and made a few things; I won't have a houseful of baby stuff to go home from.  I think I get off pretty light in comparison.  (But I don't know.  Maybe there's someone who went through that and thinks it would have been much worse to go through a pregnancy knowing the outcome would be horrible.)

I look at people I know who have lost children...the mom from my due date club whose son was born the same day as mine and who died when the boys were 10 months old, my brother whose 2-year-old died of cancer, my online friend whose 16-year-old died from complications of EB, and I realize that soon I will join them in that club of parents who have lost a child.  But it's a loose club.  Our experiences, while roughly similar, are not the same.  Not even close.

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm keeping score.  I'm not; I'm not trying to set up some sort of loss hierarchy.  Whatever loss a person has suffered is still loss, is still horrible.

But it's not all the same.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Last week I hit 24 weeks.

Usually, this is a happy time for me, as for any pregnant woman.  Twenty-four weeks is viability, meaning that the baby has a greater than 50% chance of living should it be born.


I noticed it.  I always notice it.  It is usually accompanied by a feeling of relief. 

Not this time.  Just more sadness.

The good news is, at my midwife appointment I told Lauren about the ultrasound technician calling someone else in and the two of them loudly discussing what was wrong in front of me, and she was appropriately horrified.  I don't want to get anyone in trouble, but I do want them to know it was insensitive as fuck.  Hopefully they can look in my chart and find out who did the u/s and tell her not to do that again.