Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Bump in the Road

After our 20 week ultrasound, things started to get complicated.  This was the first "Dear Abby" letter I wrote (sorry, it's quite long)...

Tuesday April 1, 2014

Dear Abby,

We had our anatomy scan on Friday March 28, 2014 and your daddy and I found out that you are a girl! Of course, he had known all along and wasn’t the least bit surprised, but I was and I was thrilled.  I couldn’t wait to meet you.  I was so excited to give you sweet kisses and tell you how brilliant and beautiful you are every single day.   The ultrasound tech joked with us about how wiggly you were and told us what we were looking at every time the view on the monitor changed. My sweet, wiggly little sunshine girl.  We got to see your heart beating away, your precious little nose and fingers, and the little legs that remind me all day long that you’re still in there.  We had so much fun.  We had already decided that we were going to name you Aberdeen Wren and I immediately thought of you as our little bird.  After the ultrasound was done, your daddy had to go to work, and I had to figure out how I was going to spend the rest of the day while I was bursting to tell everyone our wonderful news.

A few hours later I was sitting at the computer adjusting and readjusting the registries we’d already started for you when I got a call from Dr. Wenckus, the genetics counselor at Wright-Patterson AFB.  After introducing herself, she calmly explained that the ultrasound we’d done that morning indicated a thickened nuchal fold, a soft marker for chromosomal abnormalities like Down Syndrome.  She said that I needed to come back in on Monday for a more detailed ultrasound to confirm the findings and recheck the rest of your measurements.  She said that based on the results, we would then be recommended for additional blood work or an amniocentesis.  I remember being shocked and that all I could do was just keep saying OK over and over again, barely processing what she was saying.  I had heard of soft markers, but didn’t really know what they meant, all I could hear her saying was that something was wrong.  I had already been so worried this whole pregnancy that something would be wrong or go wrong, and here it was. I suddenly couldn’t handle it anymore.  As the tears started to well up and my voice started to crack, she said something nice about not worrying and we hung up as I burst into uncontrollable sobbing.  Something was wrong with our baby bird.
As soon as I could pull myself back together, I called your daddy and told him about Dr. Wenckus’ call and he said that I should come pick him up.  While I was driving, your Grandma and Grandpa Reid called a couple of times to check how things had gone at the ultrasound.  I finally had to answer and told them through tears what was going on.  They were very reassuring and reminded me that there was always a chance that nothing was wrong and that they would love you no matter what happened.  After I picked your daddy up from work we sat and talked in the car in a parking lot near Red Robin about our concerns.  All I could think was how worried I was that your life would be so much harder.  I knew that we would still love you more than anything, but I didn’t want people to make fun of you.  I wanted everyone to immediately see the brilliant, beautiful girl that I already knew you would be.  We called your Grandma and Grandpa Locklear to tell them that you were a girl and the news we’d gotten, and of course they were wonderfully reassuring as well.  Eventually we talked to all of your aunts and uncles and they were all thrilled to hear that we were having a precious little princess.  The rest of the evening went by in a blur.  I know we had dinner with our friends and saw the movie Noah (which was weird), but the whole time all I could focus on was how worried I was about you.  By the time we got home we were more exhausted than I can ever remember being.  

The next couple of days were hard.  We were waiting and worrying and I did a lot of crying. I spent a lot of time thinking and a lot of time spacing out as my thoughts became overwhelming. I also did a lot of reading, probably too much reading, about soft markers and what they mean.  I read about various genetic conditions and chromosomal abnormalities. I read about possible additional testing we could do.  I took in whatever information I could because I didn’t know what we were facing and that was the hardest thing to deal with.  Was it just Down Syndrome we should be concerned about or was it something else? I remember thinking over and over again as I looked down at my belly, “you have to be ok, please be ok.”  I was terrified that whatever was wrong would mean I might lose you. I worried about my ability to be a good mommy for you.  I want to give you the absolute best chance at a wonderful life and I wasn’t sure I could do it.  Sometimes I questioned God about why He would choose us to be your parents, why He thought we were even capable.  I don’t think I ever questioned why He would do this to us, I still thought of you as an absolute blessing, but I questioned why He would put so much faith in us.  On Sunday morning I had to sing at church before taking your daddy to the airport as he had to leave on a trip to Seattle. After talking to a couple of friends, I decided that I would go to the detailed ultrasound alone so that I would feel more comfortable asking the rather long list of questions I had composed over the weekend.  I wish your daddy could have been there, I know he does too.  

I went into Monday’s detailed ultrasound very stressed but significantly less tearful than I’d been for the past couple of days.  I had done my research, I had my questions printed out, and I felt like I was ready for whatever was about to come.  I was almost right.  During the scan I watched as the nurse logged your measurements and noticed when they were not within normal limits, but I was ok.  Your nuchal fold measurement was a little too big, and your femur and humerus lengths were a little too small, the amount of fluid in your kidneys was just within normal limits but still something to look at.  But above all, Abby, you were beautiful.  I loved getting to watch you kick and roll and explore your little world.  Nurse Laura seemed a little less than thrilled than I was that you wouldn’t ever hold still, but I loved getting to watch my wiggle worm.  I even got to see your squishy little face on a 3D scan.  After the measurement taking was complete, Dr. Wenckus came in to talk about the results.  We went through all of your pictures and measurements and she mentioned all of the things I thought she would.  Luckily she did NOT mention any major medical problems.  Your heart looked great, your brain looked great, your spine, lips, feet, hands, eyes, abdomen, and overall structure all looked great.  They plugged your measurements into the computer and produced a printout of our risk assessment: a 1 in 3.6 chance that you would have Down Syndrome.  I was expecting the risk to be high, but not quite that high.  It was a little daunting, and once again, I got a little teary.  Dr. Wenckus expressed that if it were her calculating the risk as opposed to the computer she probably would have left out the femur/humerus markers, making it more of a 1 in 40 chance, which is closer to what I’d been expecting.  She gave me lots of information, I asked the remainder of my questions, scheduled a fetal echocardiogram just in case, and decided to go ahead with the Harmony test, a fairly new blood test that can measure fetal DNA in the mother’s bloodstream and whose results are 99% accurate in identifying Down Syndrome (T21) and other chromosomal abnormalities.  Dr. Wenckus and Laura expressed how stressful they knew the circumstances to be and encouraged me to have a good week.  

So now we wait.  I am doing a lot better today, feeling much less worried and more optimistic, and looking forward to the future that I will get to share with you.  It helped immensely that Dr. Wenckus seemed confident that T21 was the only condition we were looking at, as opposed to a number of others that would have been so much scarier.  Since then, I’ve been reading blogs and testimonials of moms with babies with Down Syndrome, some of which were diagnosed in utero, some of which weren’t.  They are lovely and inspiring, and I have made my peace with whatever the outcome of the test is.  I am thankful that we should have an answer in a couple weeks so that we can best prepare ourselves and the rest of the people that will be in your life for whatever is to come.  Whether or not you end up having Down Syndrome I will continue to love you and forever worry about my ability to be the best parent for you.  I can’t wait to meet you, baby bird, our life together will be so beautiful.  

Your Mommy

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