Monday, December 7, 2009

When Placentas Misbehave

About a month and a half ago, I went in for the big ultrasound. Thirty minutes of Fetus Keats keeping his cool in front of company while being quite blatantly talked about. Already he is a master of suave. It went swimmingly, or so I thought. After receiving nine new photos and a pat on the back from the very funny tech, Birch and I were sent packing with big smiles on our faces.

A few days later I received the call.

Not from a nurse, not from a doctor, but from the receptionist stating quite quickly that I had Placenta previa and would need to come in for a follow-up ultrasound exam in six weeks and could I make it on December 2nd at 11:15 a.m.? Yes, I could, and that was the end of the conversation. Without being given a chance to even ask what Placenta previa meant, I was sitting home alone, still in bed while my heart was racing and I could feel a ferocious panic attack looming over me like an apple tree from The Wizard of Oz. Then I made my first mistake which was to look it up online. This may seem sensible to some, but keep in mind that the internet is full of information and if you don't know how to interpret that information, it can be a dangerous place. Four pages later I was terrified. The mildest of the consequences was being forced to have a C-section when it came time to have the baby. The scariest was the possibility of Keats being born prematurely, and I'm not talking about he's-ok-but-small premature, I'm talking anytime between that very moment (18 weeks) and full term (40 weeks). A huge section of that time period would mean that he'd have no real chance to even survive! The panic attack wasn't looming anymore, it was pouncing. No, it was fully embedded in my nervous system. I was shaking so hard Olive actually whimpered. I took a moment to breathe deeply, took a moment to hug Olive, took a moment to drink some water, then took a moment to cry. Regaining some composure I emailed both Birch and my mom. The next couple of days they helped me tremendously to calm down as well as realize that if it were as serious of a problem as the internet made it out to be, my doctor would have called me AND I'd have an appointment not in six weeks but six hours, if that. Then I did what I should have done first, I emailed my doctor. You know, the one that went through years of schooling and years of practicing medicine to be able to tell me that things would most likely turn out fine and that ninety percent of women who found this problem this early in pregnancy didn't have an issue when it came time to go into labor.

So, December 2nd has come and gone. With a visit to the hospital, accompanied by my wonderful mom, I was told unequivocally that both Keats and I were in the clear for a healthy pregnancy and birth (at least as far as Placenta previa was concerned). The placenta was no longer dangerously low and I could go home with a smile (and keep it for the rest of the week). We heard his heartbeat for the very first time (unusually late in the pregnancy) and my mom got to see her grandson moving about for the very first time. And yes, seeing the baby actually moving on the screen helps a great deal in making out all his little parts, unlike the printouts we try to depict later.

Today was our 24-week appointment with my actual doctor where Birch and I learned that Keats is in the 84th percentile for weight, meaning he's likely to be a big boy when he finally arrives. Great. Twenty-four weeks and he's already 1 lb. 11 oz. To put this in some sort of perspective, Miriam is 32 weeks and her little lady is 3 lbs. something. On a surprising note, although I'm carrying a large baby and my belly seems to have at least quadrupled its size, I've only gained about ten pounds in five months so that seems do-able and steady as I'll probably need to gain another ten before rounding out at 9 months. I'm looking into prenatal pilates and yoga DVDs and think I found some good ones, so I'll be starting those soon and I've been reading tip after tip on how to ease common physical discomforts like ligament pains and general tightness and soreness (mostly in the back and legs). It helps having a trained masseuse for a husband, but what is even more helpful is having an absolutely wonderful husband who is willing to put up with all the small and large aches and pains, the sickness that lasted over three months, the picky eating habits, the exhaustion, and the wonderful moodiness that has accompanied the complete joy of having a child together. Birch keeps me going and though these last months haven't been easy for either of us, he keeps me honest, keeps me sane, and keeps me very, very happy to be in the life I'm living.


  1. So glad to hear everything is turning out okay. They told me James would be a big baby too--I was worried because most of Marco's siblings were over twelve pounds! Turned out to be a great thing, since James was early, that he'd grown so quickly--seven pounds was very respectable for a barely-thirty-six-weeker!

  2. You're doing very well, Kristine, and so is Birch. I'm so happy for both of you.

    It's an amazing thing to feel so much love for this little creature growing inside of you (or inside your partner). I remember how protective I felt of my body and of my baby when I was pregnant. That feeling is even more intense now.

    I'm so excited for you to meet your little Keats. It really does change your love someone so completely and to be totally responsible for their wellbeing is unlike anything I've ever known before.

    You're going to be a fantastic mama.

  3. It's fantastically insane how hospital staff can be a little vague with some of their phone calls, as you described! We certainly had a similar moment or two, and thankfully we have a great primary care physician for Aidan who walked us through what the other doctors/residents/interns were saying. The ones who are less educated forget about tact and may not even realize that the message they are delivering could be misinterpreted.

    Great to hear things are turning out well though, and here's to no more scares!