Another good update, thank you Lord! Our baby’s weekly scans are still looking perfect and he is thriving so far. We thought we would be moving MCA scans from once a week to twice per week, but he keeps looking so good on ultrasound, and his numbers are showing no anemia, so we are still able to scan only once per week. I am amazed at how well baby boy is doing! He is even doing better than Nora was at this gestation, which is a miracle. Here is a side by side look at all of my kell babies’ MCA numbers. Remember, once the number gets over 1.5 the doctors know baby is anemic and baby either needs an intrauterine blood transfusion or delivery.
14 Weeks: Lucy— Nora— Baby Boy 1.03
15 Weeks: Lucy— Nora 1.3-1.48 Baby Boy 1.06
16 Weeks: Lucy— Nora 1.16-1.34 Baby Boy 1.07
17 Weeks: Lucy 2.5 Nora 1.2-1.3 Baby Boy 1.03
18 Weeks: Lucy 2.7 Nora 1.48 Baby Boy–1.3
Every week that passes means baby’s survival rate goes up just a little bit. Only a few more weeks to viability and I can breathe a little bit easier. Last week at 16 weeks baby was measured for the first time and he weighed about 6 ounces, which is a good size for a baby at that gestation. I had my titer checked last week to see if my antibody level had gone back up. It started at 512 (8 and above is considered critical) and after my last plasmapheresis treatment it was all the way down to 64! But yesterday I found out that it is back up to 512, which was kind of discouraging but not surprising. The same thing happened during my pregnancy with Nora, although it never got nearly as low as 64 after the plasmapheresis. Thankfully, even though my titer bounced back up to 1,024 with Nora, the weekly IVIG infusions still worked and kept Nora safe from my antibodies until about 24 weeks. So, even though my titer is high again, it doesn’t mean the IVIG isn’t working. It is obviously working because our baby isn’t anemic yet. He is always very active on ultrasound. I was really concerned when I didn’t feel him moving at 15 weeks like I did with my other four. We discovered that I have an anterior placenta which means the placenta is covering the front of my uterus and is acting like a cushion when baby kicks. They told me that I probably won’t feel him move for a long time. Thankfully, as I type this I can feel him kicking and squirming so that is comforting and exciting. Because I have an anterior placenta, the doctor will have to go through my placenta with the needle when we do IUTs.
Feeling the baby move and seeing him on ultrasound are proving to be very important bonding moments for me. After a woman loses a baby and is pregnant again, she usually struggles to be hopeful and expectant like most pregnant women are. I am often shocked when I see women announcing their pregnancies with wording such as “New baby arriving October 2017” because they just expect that their pregnancy will end with a living baby. Such confidence and hope! I couldn’t conjure it up, no matter how hard I tried. There is an innate sense of “self-protection” that kicks in after losing a baby. It’s primal and impossible to ignore, just like the love we have for our children. Yes, I will first pack this baby’s diaper bag for a stillbirth with blankets and tiny hats. I somehow feel safer if I prepare for every possible scenario in some small way. Then I will hopefully repack it with micro preemie clothes and items for a long NICU stay. Then, hopefully assuming we get past that point, I will finally pack his diaper bag in preparation for a living, full term baby with diapers and pacifiers and cute outfits, just like I did for Nora.
If a baby loss mom also has a high risk pregnancy, that only adds to the fear and anxiety. With Nora and this baby, when I saw the two pink lines on my pregnancy test I didn’t think, “OH, I’m having a baby!” I was filled with fear and awe and adrenaline, wondering whether this would end in another life altering tragedy or a breathing, living baby in my arms. I wasn’t REALLY able to savor my pregnancy with Nora or celebrate my second daughter until she was in my arms, alive, and then it all rushed on me at once, flooding me with the most delicious feeling of relief I’ve ever felt. Nine months of restrained hope suddenly released and poured out until my heart overflowed. And to this day it still overflows with awe and thankfulness and relief that she is here. Now I am in that waiting period yet again, wondering whether our family is heading toward some terrible precipice that will tear us and mangle us permanently, or if we are headed toward another of God’s miracles waiting for us like the best present under the tree in December. The waxing and waning of fear, peace, anxiety and hope are part of our everyday lives. But when I feel his little nudges and kicks and when I see him on the ultrasound rubbing his eyes with his tiny fists, practicing his breathing in and out, crossing his legs, waving and yawning, I feel that love and adoration wash over me. The pure strength of a mother’s love pushes all of that fear into the background. I feel connected to him and dedicated to him and HOPEFUL about meeting him here on earth. Thank you for praying for our boy. Hopefully he will continue to fight and conquer these antibodies week after week until he is safely in my arms.
Here are a few ultrasound pictures from his 17 week ultrasound yesterday: