Tuesday, May 6, 2008

May 1998: First appointments, first decisions

Friday, May 1st, was the last day of work for one of my colleagues (from another area of our department) before mat leave. (She had a girl a few days later.) I don't recall the celebration, but we usually have a sendoff with cake & the collective group gift. I'm sure I was thinking that my turn would be next!

Saturday, May 2nd, BIL called to let us know that their cousin's FIL had passed away suddenly. This is the cousin who had just had a baby boy less than two weeks earlier. Dh went to the funeral home visitation that evening. His family tends to be superstitious & would probably have thought it bad luck for me to be there. I was tired anyway & so was happy to stay home. I remember sitting on the couch, eating crackers & cheese & watching "Apollo 13" (the true story of a doomed space mission, albeit with an ultimately happy ending) on TV, & waiting for him to come home.

I continued to receive congratulations from colleagues at work. On May 6th, I received an enveloped containing a congratulatory note & some information on my company's maternity leave policies from our office administrator, and I called to thank her. That same day, one of the girls in another area of the department stopped by to ask whether I'd like her to lend me some maternity clothes. Of course I said yes. A few days later, she dropped by my desk again with a shopping bag containing a half-dozen blouses. One was a long-sleeved knit shirt that I set aside for the fall. Another pink, floral & frilly, I wore once but decided it was not my style. But there were two or three others that I wore often.

Sunday, May 3rd was my beloved grandfather's 86th birthday, & Monday, May 11th was my grandmother's 84th. Sunday, May 10th was Mother's Day. We didn't go to church, but we went to a movie ("As Good as it Gets," with Jack Nicholson & Helen Hunt, who won the Oscar). Dh gave me a card & (after much hinting from me), the Boyds Bears teddy bear figurine that I mentioned in a previous post. I can remember thinking how much fun it would be next year, when there were three of us, & I really was a mother to a baby, who would be about six months old by then. What fun that would be!!

Friday morning, May 15th (day 97 of my pregnancy, or about 12 weeks) was our genetic counselling appointment. I thought it was strange that I was going for genetic counselling before I even got to see my OB (& even stranger that it was at the hospital across the street from the one where my OB practices), but when I called for my OB appointment, I was told to call for counselling ASAP, & this is how it all worked out. I received an advance package in the mail, including a yellow booklet that explained about genetic testing, amnio & CVS. I think there was also a booklet about maternal serum screening (the triple screen test) -- I acquired one of those somewhere along the way. And there were forms in the mail to be filled out & brought to the appointment, including a detailed questionnaire about our families' medical & reproductive history. I had to call my mother to get help answering some of the questions.

The walls of the waiting room of the Prenatal Diagnosis unit were lined with photos of babies conceived through the hospital's IVF program. At the appointment, they showed us a movie about genetic testing (amnio & CVS). I was told they might do an ultrasound to date the pregnancy, but I don't remember that they did one. And we had a chat with a genetic counsellor, who asked us questions & drew up a chart, telling us, in a European accent, "I like this chart, very much." This was very reassuring.

We were asked whether we wanted to book an amniocentisis or CVS. I wasn't sure I wanted to do any testing at all -- and I was certainly very reluctant to do anything before I'd even seen my ob-gyn! -- but was encouraged to book an appointment anyway, to ensure I could get in around the appropriate time (the 16th week). "You can always cancel," they said, so I booked an amniocentisis for Friday, June 5th.

That Monday was the Victoria Day holiday in Canada. My mom called to tell my one of my best friends from childhood, a girl about three years younger than me, had had her baby -- a boy, weighing almost 9 lbs! His mother, my friend, had a twin sister who died at birth, & she herself had cerebral palsy, & had battled medical challenges all her life. She was a thin, rather frail girl, & all of us around her felt very protective of her. Still, she'd done amazingly well, much more so than I think anyone had ever dreamed. She'd attended university, gotten her degree, gotten married, and now had a baby. Whenever my own pregnancy & fertility problems threatened to get me down, I always had this friend in the back of my mind as a source of inspiration: "If she could do it, & wind up with a healthy baby, I most certainly can too." (Can't I?)

Tuesday, May 19th, right after the long weekend, was (finally!!) my first ob-gyn appointment. Dh came with me. I remember giving a urine sample, having my blood pressure checked, being weighed. Patients lined the crowded hallway outside the tiny office. It was like an assembly line.

Eventually, we were sent into an examination room & I was told to put on a gown. The dr finally came in, shook our hands, asked how I was feeling. I mentioned the spotting I had experienced, & he said it was normal. I also asked him about the bicornuate uterus, & he was also unflapped by that. And I asked him some questions about the amnio. I also asked him whether there would be any restrictions on me travelling that summer (thinking ahead to a visit home to see my parents and my grandparents, & show off my pregnant belly to the extended family) -- nope, "enjoy your vacation," he said.

Then he went to examine me. Dh started looking a little green around the gills & said, "I'll just wait outside" (lol). "Oh no, I'm going to listen to the heartbeat next, & you don't want to miss that," the dr said, & he was right -- even though we'd heard it already, during our emergency room visit a few weeks earlier, it was an unforgettable moment.

After weighing all the information I could gather, on Wednesday, May 27th, I called the hospital to cancel the amniocentisis appointment. I called my ob-gyn's office to let them know. I'd decided that we'd do the maternal serum screening. I'd already had enough worry about miscarriage -- I figured I would get a clear result from the bloodwork, plus the usual ultrasound, & that would provide reassurance enough, without getting too invasive.

At least, that was the plan...


  1. Loribeth, thanks so much for sharing all this. I'm just brokenhearted that it's still so fresh in your mind -- you write as if it just happened last week.

    I somewhat hate these kinds of posts because I want desperately to throw myself in front of the speeding bus: Nooooooo!!!!!!! But obviously I can't. And that hurts, too.

  2. Thanks, Tash -- I actually find myself struggling to recall some of the details these days. That's partly why I'm trying to get it all down now, before anything else fades away!

    I wish I could throw myself in front of that bus too!

  3. You have such a loving story to tell. It makes me think that the relatively optimistic, happy times of being pregnant with Katie are a gift. At the same time I wonder if you'd have wanted someone to tell you that things can go wrong - even in this day and age ... but if there's nothing you can do about it, that knowledge wouldn't really help anyway. I can hear the love in your words are you write out your story.

  4. Thanks for continuing to write this. I hate that I already know the ending. I wish I could change it somehow.

  5. I've been reading those posts but not commenting as they have such a special feeling ... not unlike being in church. I feel need to just be with them...