If you have already read my previous blog “IT’S A GIRL!” then you know exactly what’s going on. But for those of you who are just plugging in, I’ll give you a little recap. At twenty weeks pregnant, Karlie’s dad and I were left with good and bad news. Good news – We are having a baby girl! Bad news – She possibly has a congenital heart defect and a cleft lip or palate.
That being said, here I am at the Maternal Fetal Medicine in the Bay Area Clinic waiting for my Fetal Echocardiography – a fancy word meaning a detailed and higher resolution ultrasound to view the different chambers of our baby girl’s heart. It’s 9:00am and I’m sitting on the hard green vinyl chairs in the cold and empty waiting room filling out the registration papers. I can’t help but look at my phone every other second just to see that there are no missed notifications. Karlie’s dad is supposed to meet me here and I am starting to get nervous because he hadn’t showed up yet. Just when I was worried that he wasn’t going to show up, my eyes shot to the back of the clinic as the door opened and a nurse called my name. I got up, stack of papers in hand and headed back there alone and scared.
It wasn’t until about an hour later that the sonographer finally got some good pictures of our little jumping bean. She started wiping the jelly off of the camera while she leaned down and whispered, “It looks like you’ve seen a ghost. I’m going to give you a little present if you promise not to tell anybody”. I eagerly agreed, because she was right and I had never felt so limp. Mind you, it might have been because I had to fast for this appointment and I was starving! I glanced over at the technician as she quickly grabbed a different transducer probe. While squirting jelly on the probe she said, “I’m going to try and leave this on a good note and send you home with some pictures”. After she wipes the jelly off the wand once again, she hands me a portrait of the beautiful baby girl that is growing in my tummy. In the corner of my eye I can see that she quietly slides out the door to call Dr. Eggleston, the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor on call for the today.
I waited in the room alone for about five minutes studying the picture the technician just handed me while Dr. Eggleston took a look at all the data gathered during the ultrasound. The hair on the back of my neck hastily stood up as soon as I heard a gentle knock on the door. My palms started to sweat as I waited for someone to walk through the door. Just as I had convinced myself I had imagined the knock on the door, the doctor glided in startling me. He made his way to the opposite side of the room, plopping down on the stool to the right of my still-naked belly. I took a deep look into his sorrow filled eyes as he grabbed my hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. Before he let go of my hand, he confirmed that our baby girl did in fact have a congenital heart defect. He let go of my hand to pull up some images on the overhead screen and went into further detail explaining that she had a large VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect). Normal person talk – she had a large hole in the lower muscular part of her heart making the oxygen and blood swish around. He lowered his glasses as he told me that there was a chance that this hole could close on its own without the need for surgery but he wouldn’t bet on it because the hole was already so immense.
“I do have some good news”, he sighed, taking his glasses off completely. “There doesn’t appear to be any sign of a cleft lip or palate, but we won’t really know until she is born”.
He stood up to grab a wad of paper towels and patiently waited for me to wipe the remaining jelly off of my stomach. When I was done, he grabbed the dirty napkins, tossed them in the trash and helped me off of the chair. When my feet reached the floor the whole room started spinning and I was suddenly stabilized when he bent down to embrace me in a hug. I was pretty relieved that I now had two doctors that were so compassionate. I felt like they were really going through all of this with me. He asked if I had time for a little story before I left. He went on to tell me about his two daughters and their heart problems. He said that their hearts were much more severe than our baby’s heart. “They went straight into surgery after delivery. We didn’t even get a chance to hold or see them,” he said as he went on to tell me just how his family got through it. When he was done, I gave him a hug goodbye and headed to the checkout counter with tears in my eyes. As instructed, I made three appointments in advance. The clinic was now going to regularly check our baby girl’s heart throughout my pregnancy term.
As I walk to my car feeling weak I look at my phone to see a text message from Karlie’s dad that read – ‘Sorry can’t make it, got stuck at work. Call me when you get out and let me know how it went’. We had decided not to tell anybody about the possible birth defect yet because we didn’t want to make our family worry if it turned out to be nothing. At that moment, I knew exactly whom I needed to call to resist having a complete breakdown before I even got to my car. I immediately called my mom because I knew she would know exactly what to say to calm me down.
Here is a picture of my mom and I. We are best friends and I know I can always go to her with anything. Make sure to stay tuned and follow us at www.karliekateandme.com to see how the rest of my pregnancy went!