On Wednesday I sat down with the perinatologist.
The walk into the hospital was long. It was littered with people with tubes, canes and wheelchairs. Being sick isn’t pretty. The perinatologist office was dark and filled with lots of nurses talking about critical levels and test results. It smelled serious. So far: medicine is unpretty and serious.
The nurse asked if I was there for a first trimester screening. This is one of those added bonuses of being of advanced maternal age. I’ve thought about it and there is no triathlon equivalent. You get better as you get older in triathlon. If you’re 80 and doing Ironman, you’re a rockstar. If you’re turning 35 (and may I add I am turning 35 on the due date so it’s not like I am really 35 in this pregnancy…right?) and you’re making a baby, you’re a risk. You get oodles of pamphlets to read through about tests tests tests. I’ve declined the tests. Not only because they carry some risk because what will be will be.
Let’s just leave it at that.
I wait in a small room for the doctor. He walks in, nonchalantly, in surgical scrubs and asks me why I am there. So much for preparation. He’s a younger doctor with a slow manner about himself. As much as I wished he was Ti-voed so I could fast forward to a speed that I could handle, I realized that a slow, careful perinatologist wasn’t a bad thing. Their work is small, slow and complicated. You want a guy like this to be careful. Very.
He explained to me about Kell antigen and antibodies. It was a lecture I could have given myself. The best thing you can do in a situation like this is arm yourself with knowledge – lots of it. Don’t expect that you will be given the answers. Know the questions to ask. Know the lingo. Know your own body. The worst part about his lecture is that it included a diagram. When he actually had to pause to read part of the diagram I almost shit myself in a moment of does this dude really know what he is doing!?!
He talked about the action plan. First priority: get Chris tested. I tested positive for antibodies. The kicker would be if Chris tested positive for the antigen. If positive, there was an action plan. If negative, no further action would be necessary. The baby would not be at risk. How I got the antibodies, still left open to debate. Not really the issue, though. All that matters is what is in Chris.
Next he created a timeline. Nothing could be monitored until 16 weeks, which was even early. That’s 3 weeks away! And, nothing could be done, if needed, until 18 weeks. All you can do is wait. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
Meanwhile, get your husband tested, he said. But there is no hurry.
I wanted to reach across the table and slap him. NO HURRY!? Are you kidding me!? Of course there is a hurry. Maybe not a hurry for you because you can’t do anything for a few weeks but the hurry for me is that there is a 50 percent chance I can breathe again and a 50 percent chance I will spend the better part of my pregnancy holding that same breath. Yes, there is a hurry! I want him tested. NOW!
He casually told me that the other doctor could do the testing and by the end of the day he would send over a request for it. But I’ll tell you what, the minute I walked out of that office, I called the other doctor and made an appointment for that evening. No more waiting.
I called the doctor, a little frenetic but then again that’s the speed I usually operate at frenetic with a hint of overactive Chihuahua in situations like this, and asked for Kell antigen blood test but genotyping if positive. The receptionist got a little befuddled and handed me over to the lab tech. Please be nice, please be nice, please take my husband’s blood tonight I thought to myself. They were on top of it. They knew what to do.
Chris gave blood a few hours later. I figured it would be a week or so until the results came back because it’s such a rare test. In the meantime, we would just wait and hope. Hang in limbo a little longer. What’s a few more days….
That next day, they called.
The bad news is that Chris tested positive for being 50% Chinese Filipino, 50% drunken Irish German and 20% Mexican Chihuahua/corn chip mix. There is currently no treatment.
The good news is that he tested negative for the Kell antigen which means the baby cannot be positive. And thus should not be effected by my antibodies.
I’ve received a lot of good news in life. But this one takes the cake. Heavily vanilla frosted, giant plastic box of Safeway sheet cake with a glass of cold milk cake (which reminds me, I really need some cake).
Someone told me today that they were going to have to stop reading my blog because they were getting too emotionally wrapped up. I have thought to myself that there is a risk of talking about all of this. Whether it is exposing the emotional core of the experience or the details of something that could be considered a medically private matter. Regardless, this is my experience and these are my words. This is life lived in real time. It is not always pretty nor perfect. And hopefully the more real people are when they share their experiences, the more we will realize that we are all alike, that no one is infallible, that no marriage is flawless, that no pregnancy is perfect, that no one drops 1 minute per mile from their run pace over night. Those are all illusions. The rest is just real life.
Carry on, pregnancy, carry on.