Monday, March 16, 2015

A Three Blood Chord and Our Little Girl

This is a story of redemption and faith and the conception of a little girl.  It is our story and I finally feel like it is ok to reveal so others might have hope. This baby was an answer to 5 + years of trying and a lot of prayers.   

During our 16 week ultrasound, we found out we were going to be the parents of a little girl.  We held on to the news for 4 weeks and then revealed her gender to the world.  During the time period before her conception, my husband and I had almost resigned ourselves to the fact we might possibly never experience the joy of having our own child, so we began to explore and discuss the possibility of fostering or adoption.  Even though we knew we could provide a home for a child that needed two loving parents, the pain of never conceiving plagued us over and over again on a monthly basis.  I grew tired of people asking me “when are you and your husband going to have your own children” or “what’s taking you so long”? I felt like either my faith was lacking or G-d had a plan and I needed to surrender to the reality of what I was facing.  I was already facing insurmountable odds even conceiving because of my age and a host of other factors.  Prior visits to a fertility specialist revealed I would have less than a 5% chance of ever conceiving and if I did, the odds rose exponentially for me to bear a child with a chromosomal anomaly of some type.  Without some type of fertility cocktail or IVF, our chances of conceiving naturally were between slim and none. 

We didn’t care. 

G-d had other plans.

In the instant we found out we were pregnant, we knew she was a gift and despite the odds, we decided to cherish her no matter the outcome.

On the day of my 20th week ultrasound I was relieved that my little girl had survived twenty weeks of gestation and development and I wasn’t too worried about sitting through the intricacies of this particular visit.  You see, we had already gone through some pretty tough hurdles during this pregnancy.  After all, I had survived a first trimester of exhaustion, fear of loss, and the early news that my progesterone levels were significantly down, which was often a sign that I was about to miscarry.  None of the threats were real, and my little girl held on for dear life.  I already knew she was a fighter and each day as I placed my hands over my womb, I prayed she would grow up strong and have a heart that was wholly G-d’s.

As I sat in the Doctor’s office waiting to be called back to undergo my ultrasound, I wasn’t too worried.  She had made it this far and I knew the odds of her survival were in our favor.  The technician had me lay on the table and started to go over the intricate details of my little girl, one limb, one organ, and one bone at a time.  She pointed out a foot, the brain, the stomach, the vital organs, her heartbeat, etc.

Then she grew silent. 

Instantly, I red flagged her silence and alarm welled up inside of me.  What was she thinking?  Is there something wrong?  Since my husband was catching up on much needed sleep, I was all alone and neither one of us was initially worried about the test results. 

After the examination was over, they escorted me back to an exam room and within a couple of minutes my OB/GYN came in to talk to me about the results.  He basically said that developmentally, everything looked right on course and she was a beautiful little girl. 

He looked down and grew quiet. 

Looking at me he said “I don’t know how else to tell you this, but we only found a two blood umbilical chord and 99% of all babies are born with a three blood chord.  I am so sorry.” 

I was stunned. 

What was he saying to me?  Does this mean she is dying?  My mind raced and I just sat there looking at him in absolute silence.  He continued talking and said, “This probably means nothing, but I am going to refer you up to a Perinatologist for further testing.”  He went on to explain, “Typically in a three blood chord, it means that one main artery and two veins are taking blood and toxins to and away from the fetus and placenta.  It is your baby’s lifeline to you and determines the level of oxygen and nutrients she is receiving from you.  When we see a two blood chord, the concern is that it could be a soft marker for a chromosomal abnormality and we want to explore with further testing on her to rule this out.”  Were we looking at birthing a child with Down Syndrome or some other genetic mishap?

I had no words.  I couldn’t cry.  I felt like my world had just inverted and I was about to face the battle of my life with this precious little girl. I asked him how this could affect her cognitive, emotional, and physical development.  He assured me he didn’t know but that he wanted me to go see a specialist as quickly as possible. 

Leaving his office, I quickly called my husband and sobbing relayed the news to him.  We both reaffirmed our beliefs that no matter the outcome, we were going to cherish the gift and love her unconditionally.  Trying to keep it together, I drove the 45 minute trip home in silence and collapsed on my bed.  My husband just held me and we talked about what this could all mean for her and for our future with her. 

We didn’t know. We didn’t care.  She was our baby.

After a week of waiting to hear from the Perinatolagist, I finally was able to secure an appointment with one of the top Doctor’s in our area and set up an appointment for a follow up Level Two ultrasound and genetic testing which would give us a much clearer picture of what was going on with her.  Initially I wasn’t interested in genetic testing, but if we were dealing with some type of anomaly, then my husband and I needed to prepare ourselves for how this would impact our lives.

On the day of my appointment, I took a friend (who is like an aunt) with me and we waited for almost an hour for me to be seen by the technician.  The waiting was agonizing and between my husband texting me, my parents praying, and my “local” mom praying, I was getting pretty nervous.  When the technician called me back, she had a much calmer demeanor then the one two weeks earlier.  Immediately, I felt peace and knew that I was in good hands.  By this time I was 22 weeks along and they had a much bigger picture of what my little girl looked like.  As the technician moved the wand over my stomach, my little girl kept moving her head away from the camera and we had a lot of laughs over her behavior in my womb.  For nearly an hour, the technician measured every single detail, gave us her approximate weight, and then smiled when she got to the umbilical chord.  She said, “I don’t know what the other technician and Doctor saw in the last ultrasound, but I can clearly see a Mickey Mouse head, which is what we look for in determining the presence of a three blood chord.”

I was beyond elated.

Instantly, I had hope.

She was going to be ok.  Once again, she had beaten the odds.

Looking back, the 20 week ultrasound showed only a two blood chord.  I remember watching the original technician mark it with a blue and red line.  This time there was distinctly three lines showing up on the screen.  When you are watching your baby on an ultrasound screen, you are paying very close attention to how she looks, moves, expresses herself, etc.  Believe me, I looked at every single detail and took note of the tiniest details of her feet, toes, hands, and lips. 

Was I looking at a miracle on that screen?  In my heart I believe this to be absolute truth.

When they took a screen shot of her little hand, she had her index finger pointed up at the top of the screen as if to say “this is all about G-d.” I firmly believe in the depths of my soul that battles are won or lost by what we choose to engage in, but the war we fight in life ultimately belongs to G-d.  

Right now I am 6 months along in my pregnancy.  She will be here in 3.5 months and with each flutter, kick, and movement, I thank G-d that this miracle of life is growing inside of me.  She is wholly His and despite the odds, I can already tell she is a fighter and will continue to beat the odds, no matter how much they come up against her.

G-d is on her side.  The war for her life belongs to Him.  He formed her. He created her.  He loves her.  He knew who she was and what she would do with her life before He even formed her in my womb.  I take refuge in this knowledge and I rest confidently in the hope that she is His gift to us. 

Where does your hope lie?

Ecclesiastes 4:12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

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