Problem is, I don’t really like rollercoasters. I’ll ride them but not without holding my breath at the top of every climb before plunging down only to crest another hill and do it again. It’s safe to say I ride rollercoasters in a hypoxic state.
Recall about 12 weeks ago when I found out I had some antibodies in my blood. Kell antibodies that affect less than 2 percent of the population. Chris tested negative for the antigen meaning baby Max could not be a carrier, end of story. A happy ending.
At my 20-week ultrasound, the doctor mentioned that I should have my titers checked once a trimester just in case. In case they go up. Even though they shouldn’t go up. Though in medicine, nothing is very certain. There’s a lot of what-ifs.
They took blood on Monday and sure enough today I got a call. My titers went up. More anti-Kell. No, you cannot catch it from me, no, I cannot get rid of it, and lastly, no, running cannot make it worse. The problem is that if baby Max is also positive, then my body’s antibodies will start attacking him.
Attacking is never a good thing. Unless we’re talking out of the saddle up a steep incline with the intent to get your heart rate into zone 5. I love hill attacks. I do not love, however, the idea of attacking my baby. When the body attacks the baby it makes the baby anemic. The anemic baby encounters all sorts of problems.
The nurse said I would need to go in for twice monthly ultrasounds to monitor the baby’s health. Fine. I called the perinatologist. They scheduled me for an appointment – over a month away. I thought that was a little unusual, it sounded a bit more serious than that but…what do I know. I’m not the one with doctor in front of my name…
Though Dr. ELF has a really nice ring to it.
Wait for a month...? That didn’t feel right. So, I called my friend who’s a high risk obstetrician. She confirmed that I should be seen right away. Increasing titer is not normal and there’s a good chance that Chris’ test result was wrong. She got me thinking, I did some researching and realized another call was in order. The perinatologist needed to do some explaining.
I called. They were out to lunch. Tick tock. Then they called back. I asked about Chris' test results, something about positive for a little K but not the big K. How a positive could be negative? I thought everything was ok? Something about homozygous vs. heterozygous. Genetics. I knew I should have paid better attention in science class.
They now told me I needed to be seen at the next available appointment. But – what about a month from now? That’s what the nurse told me this morning. I got angry. What about the fact that if I hadn’t called out of my own curiosity about what the heck is going on – I would have waited that entire month before. I got really angry. What about the doctor who at the last ultrasound told me my husband tested negative and everything would be ok? I got really, really angry. And confirmed to myself why when it comes to medical matters, you need to be an advocate. You need to educate yourself to ask the right questions and keep pressing for answers.
That evening, Chris came home. When I saw him I wanted to cry but knew that over emotional displays of self-pity never make you feel any better. They just make you feel helpless. There’s a lot we don’t know. And a lot we can do if something is wrong. There’s no need to bring tears and excess emotion into it. Let’s focus on what we can do rather than all that is going on that we cannot control.
We talked. We theorized. We sounded like too high school kids trying to pass a genetics test. I summed up my day by saying not only did I get this news but I dropped my decaf coffee in the parking lot of Buy Buy Baby.
Major foul. MAJOR.
Why was I at BuyBuyBaby again? I wanted to buy the bedding. I started decorating Max’s room with monkeys and animals and...damn it looks adorable. Whether he comes out 100 percent healthy or with a lifetime of health problems ahead of him – I will take him as he is. And will surround him with monkeys.
That afternoon I got a box in the mail. It was from a friend. A stuffed giraffe and swaddling blankets. This is the joy of pregnancy. A far away friend sends a gift that brightens my day for the little man that will be arriving in less than 4 months. The other night I was laying on the couch at night and watch my stomach move with little kicks and bumps when I said to Chris:
I can’t wait to meet this kid.
If I could have screamed it to make it any more clear how excited I am, I would have. But I didn’t want to scare the shit out of Boss. Or Chris. There’s something completely inexplicable about the way it feels to know that someone is growing in you, a little person ready to take on the world.
Years from now, Max will read this and tell me that I worry too much. I will agree, and tell him it is something I genetically inherited from my mother, from her mother, from her mother who was a small Italian woman standing at 4 foot 8 inches tall who I only remember in her late 90s in her bedroom saying the rosary while sitting under a picture of the Virgin Mary. You can’t escape genetics – the good, the bad, maybe the little K.
Tomorrow I’m going to have an ultrasound to see what’s going on the little man. And so the rollercoaster heads up toward another hill. I’m pressing on the lap bar. I’m taking a deep breath. I just have to remember to breathe every now and then.