Thursday, April 08, 2010

Ups & Downs

Sometimes pregnancy is like a roller coaster – full of ups and downs.

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.


the Dread Pirate Rackham said...


You are in charge of your healthcare -- it helps that you are so smart!

Trust that everything will work out the way it's supposed to - including you asking a lot (a LOT) of questions!

Molly said...

Tons and TONS of white light and good ultrasound vibes for you three. We'll be thinking of you tomorrow.

Beth said...

Thinking of you guys!! Hoping everything is okay. And you are so right - you have to be an advocate for yourself in healthcare or nobody else will. What's really sad is the people that can't be their own advocates and don't have anyone to do it for them. Praying for a good result at the ultrasound today!

Danni said...

YOU can get through this. I know baby Max will be just fine.

Wes said...

{hugs} girl... being pregnant brings lots of worries, but you prove that you are smarter than your average 4 foot 2 pregnant lady. At the end of the day, nobody is going to care about yourn and the baby's health like you do, and you got this.


Tara said...

I'm be thinking of you and little Max today and sending positive ultrasound vibes your way! Keep us posted.

Tara said...

I meant GOOD ultrasound vibes, not positive, bad choice of words. We don't want little Max to have the positive antibodies! Right? Oh hell now I'm confused.

Melissa said...

Good luck to you and Max tomorrow, I hope everything is OK and this is just a short bump on the roller coaster. Great advice about being your own advocate, you may not be able to control what's happening in your body, but you can at least control what's happening with the care of your body.

Dr. Elf sounds fantastic! I'd come see you ;-)

Eisparklz said...

Good for you for taking control, and letting the doc know that you were dissatisfied (an understatement). Keep in mind that they are there for your needs, and not the other way around. Keep us posted on the status.

Julie said...

My friend Judi passed your blog link along- I'm glad she did.

Think about how your parents carried the genes you have, and so did some of their parents, and so on. It has all worked out ok so far, right? Take heart in knowing that doctors are way overprotective because they are terrified of missing something and getting sued. Any small smidgeon of a chance of a problem and they'll test, test, test. Meanwhile we're all subjected to the emotional havoc that brings.

The rollercoaster is your hormones, and it's unavoidable- if there weren't things to be concerned about, you'd find reasons anyway. Take some deep breaths, try to relax a little.

Pedergraham said...

Liz, was thinking about baby Max and you and Chris yesterday and hoping good things for you and for not too much worrying. On a brighter note, if you feel comfortable sharing online, it would be fun to see how Max's monkey room is coming along.

GoBigGreen said...

Sending good thoughts your way Liz. I hope everything is ok.

Ange said...

I love the name Max. :o)
Deep breaths are Key. Yes. All through their childhoods--starting when they're still inside you.
It WILL Be ok...pregnancy is full of little twists and turns.
I will be sending healthy baby vibes your way.