While we were on the way home, Marius’ friend Dylan texted asking if he wanted to come over. Dylan’s wife, my friend, Brett, was also home early so we decided it’s be a good thing to go visit some friends. What sticks out the most of that visit, was the four of us talking about what the baby might be like. Both Dylan’s Mom and Sister (Who I know as well) work with Adults with Special Needs. We talked about how happy and purely loving life those with down syndrome were.
We could do this! We could be parents of a special needs baby! We would rock it!
The next morning a call came saying we had an appointment with the Pediatric Cardiologist for an echocardiogram four days later, on Monday. Marius needed to work, so Molly took Mac and My Mom came along with me. I was glad that we could tick another item off our list. It was a mental list of problems the baby had getting crossed off. It felt good, we were on the up and up. The ultrasound was half an hour long, and we looked at the screen the whole time which was much different than the first ultrasound. I loved seeing our little baby squiggling around. Seeing the heart pumping like it should be. But Dr. Sinclair also showed us the more concerning problems with the lungs and the cystic hyrgoma. He explained that he was only part time in Victoria, and the other part in Vancouver at Women’s and Children’s Hospital. He thought it would be a good idea if we went over there and he would set up the requisition forms getting that in motion.
Monday went and Tuesday brought packing and secrets. I didn’t tell anyone beyond immediate family (Brett and Dylan did know of course…) to know what was happening. It was too scary and unreal. We were moving, needing to be out of our place by noon on Saturday and into our new little rental cabin so suffice to say we were crazy busy. Tuesday afternoon brought a phone call from Women’s hospital asking us to be there on Thursday. At 9 am. Bring on the panic. There is no physical way to get there on a ferry that early, and going the night before was out of the question. We were lucky to have discount tickets for a seaplane available to us, but we still choked down about $300 in flights (versus taking a ferry we would have gotten a travel assistance pass from our Doctor and it would be free) to be able to get there and back in one day as to not cramp our moving schedule too much.
On Wednesday I went grocery shopping…I bought some cookies, mini greek yogurts, carrots, fruit and water bottles as well as magazines to take with us. It would be like a fun little date day! The seaplane is about a 25 minute ride over ocean the whole way and it’s gorgeous to watch out the windows. Cities can be stressful for us so we took the least stressful options the whole way, including a taxi instead of a bus ride. I checked in and was issued a blue card with my name, information, and referring doctors, then directed to the waiting room with a sheet saying where we needed to be at what time for our different appointments.
I read my magazines and ate my little greek yogurts. Worry? Who needs to worry! We were there for a check-up and a second opinion! I enjoyed spending time there with my Husband.
Our first appointment was an ultrasound. We were blessed to have an ultrasound tech as well as an obstetrician in training to be a perinatologist there so no secrets were needed. They told us exactly what was going on as it was going on. They switched into 3D and 4D to get a better idea of what was going on. A radiologists came and looked at the vocal cords to thyroid to bladder and everything in between. We could the vocal cords moving as the baby vocalized inside my womb. It was a pretty surreal thing to see.
The obstetrician asked if we wanted to know the sex. We kept it a surprise with Mac, but we’d already decided if we got an amniocentesis that we would find out the sex. Marius doubted the ultrasound, he said how will we really know?
Well let me tell you! When they got to the below the waist part, we could very visually see his thigh bones and the parts inbetween. He laughed because there was no doubting it. We were having another boy! I’d never had any inclination either way, but it was fun to know that Mac was going to have a baby brother.
After a 2 1/2 hour long ultrasound, we had a break to go eat lunch in the cafeteria. We dined and waited for the perinatologist meeting. I love me some good people watching and this was definitely a primo place for it.
We got to our appointment with Dr. Butler, the perinatologist, and he started explaining things. He told me about the high stillborn risk for babies with conditions like ours. Bring on the waterworks for this pregnant mama. We joked later how he was scanning around his office mildly panicing looking for the box of tissues. When talking about what this baby may be like, Marius and I never talked about or knew about the high risks of a stillborn baby. You see, never once, did I search online for anything to do with what this baby was going through. I asked the midwife to pick a couple reputable sources and print me out a page on the different problems the baby had. It was a coping strategy you never know you’re doing until it’s over.
While Dr. Butler talked about procedure and treatment options, he sounded a bit rushed. Not as in, he was trying to rush us out of there, but as in, he had already looked at everything to do with our baby while we ate lunch, and gone ahead and booked a thorocentesis and possible amniocentesis. He explained everything well, but basically told us that there was a high risk of heart failure due to the fluid in the lung cavity. When would it happen if left untreated? We could only guess. 5 hours? 5 days? 5 weeks? There was a sense of urgency you couldn’t ignore. Still, being practical and a little selfish, I asked about the possibility of putting it off until next week. We were moving the day after that and the procedures would call for me being on 100% bedrest for 24 hours, followed by 1-3 more days of very limited activity. In the end, we decided that it needed to be done that day. I loved Dr. Butler. Not ONCE did we have an issue. This may not be the case for everyone, but we’ve found that when you go to see a specialist and what you have is not very serious, well, it’s going to take a lot of waiting, etc. When the Dr’s know that it’s serious? Well, we were the product of being 100% blessed by an amazing medical system. Trash the Canadian medical system all you want, but my family is lucky to have it available to us. Had we had to pay it out of our pockets? We would have had to weigh the options and maybe take our chances at not having procedures done. We figure I had $300,000+ worth of medical care while pregnant. Really, there is no way my family’s required $135 a month to MSP (Medical Services Plan) will ever repay that.
Before I knew it we were being checked in for procedures. We had a seaplane to catch which put us on a timeline and they knew it. I laid in the bed while they swabbed my belly with pink disinfectant. Marius sat near the back of the room, because all around me there were doctors, nurses, screens and machines. He sat and watched the big screen TV ultrasound. As they got their 10 inch needle ready, I asked when they were going to give me some drugs, to, ya know, numb it. They said I’m sorry you don’t get drugs for this procedure. I said what about a sheet (like they do for c-sections). They said no. I said A SHIRT OVER MY HEAD SO I CANT SEE?! They said cross your hands on your chest and breath deeply. GULP. This gal hates needles. And that mother trucker was a big’un. The ultrasound tech was an older man, who talked to me in the most gentle voice. He got me to breathe with him, and explained how it would hurt less if my muscles were relaxed. Then I had this nurse on my left. Let. me. tell. you. She was hilarious. About 50 years old, cat eye glasses, leopard print tights, flats, cardigan. I asked her to talk to me to keep my mind off of it all. She didn’t know what to say so I asked if she had kids and she did. I asked her to tell me what they are doing today and where they live. She was able to keep a steady soliloquy going which did me good. They finished the thorocentesis and went onto the amnio. We decided to have it not for our own info or choices, but for them to be able to make a better treatment plan. (In fact, when they called us with results saying all was clear I just said, Thanks, thats nice.) The needle was still in me when one of the doctors was calling the lab saying the sample was on its way. Promptness like that? That makes you nervous. Marius thought the whole thing was quite nerve wracking and scary as well. The big screen TV made a barely visible needle look like a harpoon, and the 6 inch baby 18 inches. He said it was like watching his baby be harpooned and it made him sick to his stomach. In reality? The baby didn’t even flinch when the needle went in.
We get done and are heading out of there as quickly as a hunched over gal can walk. I hurt. It was painful. Noninvasive? My derierre. I had an anterior placenta (in the front) and that 10 inch needle had to go through it to get to the baby. We’re waiting for a taxi outside the hospital, and theres a line up. And we’re pushing time. And then the sweet man at the front of the line gives us his taxi because he over hears me say we’re catching a plane. He was a blessing in that day. We get in the taxi, rush rush rush to the seaplane terminal, drop us off, go to check in and oh? What? The taxi brought us to the wrong one. It’s not that long of a walk to get to the other one but I’m supposed to be on bedrest and remember? I’m still hunched over. So back to another taxi, where the most skilled taxi driver I’ve every had the opportunity to meet gets us to the other one. Marius told the guy “Killer driving, Man” (he never talks like that) and threw him a $20 bill for the $11 fare. Of course it was hurry up, then wait, because we lucked out on the plane being a few minutes late. Whew! The seaplane ride home was okay. I tried not to cry and Marius watched for sea life. We got back to Salt Spring, he took me to my Moms, dropped me off there (actually it was for his birthday dinner) and went to our place to keep packing. Because, remember? We were moving. It was a relief after that day to have my Mommy to take care of me. She fed me beans and wieners (actually homemade beans and sausage) and I sat in her comfy couch.
Mothers really hold a special place. I’m so lucky to have mine close by and that I get to stay home with my children!