Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ayla's Birth Story Part 1: A Change in Plans

I'm going to break this story up into two different parts because to me they feel like two different stories.

As hard as I had hoped I didn't exactly end up with the birth I originally planned on. I was going to deliver naturally at a birth center with my midwife and husband by my side. My sister in-law was going to be there to capture it all on camera. As crazy as it sounds I wanted that excruciatingly painful and life defining experience I had read about in all of Ina May Gaskin's books. I knew I could do it. And I knew it's what I wanted for myself and my baby.

At my 20 week anatomy ultrasound things changed. After lots of measuring and looking at random body parts that I couldn't identify the ultrasound technician asked if we wanted to know the sex of the baby. We sure did! She said, "you see those three lines right there? That's what a girl looks like." It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I couldn't stop smiling.

Like always they have the doctor come in afterward to go over the results of the ultrasound. I was expecting the doctor to tell us she looks healthy and everything was perfect. When the doctor started going over the results of the ultrasound we learned that our tiny baby girl had bright spots in her abdomen. The doctor took the ultrasound wand to my belly to show us exactly what she was talking about. Indeed there they were. The doctor explained it could be a marker for a number of different syndromes or abnormalities, or it could be nothing at all. I started to kind of space out as she explained things to us. I remember her saying they were calcifications and could point to the possibility of down syndrome or a perforation in her bowels or trisomy 13. And again she also said it could be nothing at all. She offered so many different tests that could possibly indicate what we were dealing with that it made my head spin. I told her I would allow any test that didn't interfere with the baby. I was dead set against an amniocentesis. I didn't care what might be wrong with my baby, I was in no way going to even remotely increase the chances for miscarriage. A nurse came in and took vials of blood.

I cried and cried and my husband held me. Something was wrong with my baby. What made things worse was that we were planning to reveal the sex at a party a couple days later. I cried in the parking lot of the party store where we picked up the pink confetti for our reveal. Luckily, the next day was better. Once I got over the initial shock I realized that it didn't matter to me. If she had down syndrome or needed multiple surgeries or was perfectly healthy, it wouldn't matter. I knew I'd love her, but I was so scared.

Pink confetti :)
Our gender reveal party was great! We didn't tell anyone about our concerns because we wanted everyone to be happy for us. I didn't want the added attention to something I was already so concerned about. I knew my husband could be my rock through this and he was the only person I wanted to share this with. I wanted to be happy. To reveal the gender at our party we blew up a bunch of balloons and filled them with white confetti. Just one of the balloons had pink confetti inside. Everyone held the balloons over their heads and popped them at the same time. My sister in-law yelled out, "I got pink!" It was perfect.

My husband and I decided that because we wouldn't know what the calcifications in the baby's abdomen were until she was born that I should deliver with an outstanding NICU team available. I prayed we wouldn't need them, but I didn't want to chance it. We decided delivering at the birth center was out of the question. I transferred my prenatal care to a group of midwives that deliver at a local hospital. I had seen them for my previous pregnancy and through my miscarriage and was very comfortable with their care and bedside manner. I also saw high risk doctors at a maternal fetal medicine clinic. I had regular ultrasounds done to monitor the baby's growth and the size of the calcifications. We also did regular non-stress tests and I even had a fetal MRI done. Our little girl continued to grow wonderfully and showed no signs of distress. Our worries began to subside.

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