Five years ago today, I was pregnant with my daughter. Her due date was still a little over three weeks away. There was no way I would have guessed that my weekly checkup with the fetal maternal specialist would result in Lexie’s birth the following day.
Let me give you some back story…I turned 35 a few months after getting pregnant. This made me what the doctors consider “advanced maternal age.” My doctor suggested I see a maternal-fetal specialist to be tested for Down syndrome since being older increases the baby’s chances of having it. My test came back with an elevated chance so the specialist suggested a sonogram as a follow-up test.
That sonogram at 16 weeks would change a lot of things. One of the first things they noted was Lexie had situs inverses, which means all her organs are flipped. Her heart and stomach are on her right instead of the left. In addition, they noted that her inferior verna cava (the major vein that brings blood from your lower extremities to your heart) was what they called “interrupted” (meaning it didn’t go where is was supposed to go). Both of these are rare developmental defects and together possibly a sign that she could have polysplenia (multiple spleens) or asplenia (no spleen). They suggested doing an amniocentesis to rule out any genetic problems (Downs, trisomy 13 and such) as these are also common with these two indicators.
The amniocentesis came back normal and let us know that we were having a girl. But the specialist suggested monthly (and later every other week followed by weekly) sonograms to watch her growth progress. Two months later he sent us to a cardiologist for a fetal echocardiogram to check out her heart and the incomplete IVC. The cardiologist verified what the specialist already saw on one of the sonograms. Lexie had a hole in between two chambers of her heart. The good news was he said the incomplete IVC was a non issue as her blood didn’t follow the “normal route” but did get back to her heart, which was the important part.
At my next sonogram in January, they noted an elevated amount of amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios). The specialist said that often times (like 99%) it is due to gestational diabetes. I had already taken the one-hour glucose test and failed but had passed the 3-hour test. But with the elevated fluid level, he had me take the three-hour test again, but I didn’t have gestational diabetes.
The additional amniotic fluid was now something else that they would need to watch. Soon we started doing sonograms every other week. On the weeks that I didn’t have a sonogram, I was meeting with my OB. That means every week I had an appointment.
At one of my February appointments, the fetal-maternal specialist noted that I was having contractions. They hooked me up to a monitor but after an hour when they hadn’t stopped, they sent me to the hospital where they were able to stop the contractions. Yes, this was an eventful pregnancy.
So five years ago today, I went to see the maternal-fetal specialist. He noted that my ever-increasing amniotic fluid level was now four times the amount of a normal pregnant woman. The concern was if my water broke that the gush of extra fluid could pull the umbilical cord out possibly cutting off the baby’s oxygen. So the specialist suggested another amniocentesis test to see if Lexie’s lungs were developed enough for her to be born.
On March 12th at 1 am, we received a call from the specialist. Her lungs were developed enough. He wanted us at the hospital later that morning for a c-section. So less than 24 hours after my appointment we were in the hospital and by noon, Lexie was born. She was 3 1/2 weeks early and weighed 7 lbs 10 oz.
Of course right after birth they whisked her away to the Neonatal ICU to run tests on her due to the situs inverses, the incomplete IVC and the hole in her heart. After numerous tests (including one in which they temporarily stopped her heart), they decided her heart was fine. Through a sonogram, they discovered she had multiple spleens. Most of them were really small. Another test revealed that at least one of them was working.
Before they would allow Lexis to have food, they did a barium swallow test, tracking the barium as it traveled through her system. This was done when she was two days old and again, everything proved to be fine. So even though she has an array of “differences” than a typical newborn, everything seemed okay.
At three days old they moved her out of the NICU and into the intermediate nursery for the next five days while we worked on a reflux/aspiration issue that occurred whenever she took a bottle.
So after a stressful pregnancy (for us not her) and a stressful first few days of life (for all of us), we brought our beautiful baby girl home when she was eight days old. None of the issues they were worried about have ever caused her a problem. Instead she just developed new ones – amblyopia, eczema, and allergies to pretty much everything. Of course, none of that will even be thought about tomorrow as we celebrate her fifth birthday.