I suppose, if we're to take this journey together, you and me, you should know where it all began. And since all of this began nearly one year ago, it seems as good a time as any to start.
In my head, as I lie in bed at night trying to fall asleep, I compose the most wonderful writing. I always know exactly what to say. It flows, it's eloquent, it's equal parts Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling and Louis CK. The writer me of bedtime is amazing. Unfortunately, those beautiful bedtime words are even slipperier than most. I can never remember how I phrased things just so in the morning, and the times that I've attempted to keep a little notebook by my bed have proven fruitless. Sleepy me is excellent at words, but as soon as I try to voice them or keep them in some permanent state, they're gone. They are wild and untamable, my sleepy words, impossible to capture.
Anyway, this big, long, random introduction is really just the prelude to my actual blog post, which I had written quite beautifully last night, but alas, awake writer is far worse than sleep writer. Regardless, if this blog is going to be all about our journeys as a Micropreemie/Cleft family, we should begin at the beginning of the family.
So, our story began as many do, with a pregnancy test. I bought several after work, and was completely petrified that I'd run in to one of my students or their parents at the drugstore. Not that I had any reason to be embarrassed about buying them, I'm married and 34, but it's still just weird. Anywho, I waited until the Husbeast got home and then took the test. I don't know that I've ever had a longer three minutes in my lift. I was so anxious! I wouldn't have imagined that I would feel so scared, so nervous, so everything! I remember commenting that I was really, really glad I'd not had to take a pregnancy test before then as I don't think I could have handled the stress of it at 16, or 25. After three minutes, I went to check and there it was, the faintest little pink line. I think we were both in total shock. A part of me felt like I knew already, but it was just so.... real. Before then kids had been this esoteric, nebulous maybe, and now? Now it was definite. Concrete. Crazy.
I called my docs the next day to schedule an ultrasound to verify the pregnancy. Seeing that tiny little bean at 6 weeks was unreal. It's such a strange feeling. I didn't feel pregnant. I wasn't sick (yet), wasn't fat(ter than I normally am), I was still just me... but that me was now us.
The first several weeks of pregnancy were completely uneventful. I thought that morning sickness started immediately, so I also assumed that I was in the clear since I had been feeling pretty darn good. Wrong. So, so wrong. Starting around week 7 I got all kinds of morning, well, evening sickness, and reached levels of exhaustion that I didn't know were possible. I didn't throw up much, which was very fortunate as the times I did throw up we found that I broke all the blood vessels in my face and next and looked like I'd been beaten, but I felt nauseous in the afternoons and evening all the time. I craved chocolate milk, watermelon, fruit snacks, and potstickers. Not all together. We told our families once we were safely out of the first trimester, but decided to wait until after our 20 week scan to make the obligatory Facebook post.
The ultrasound started out normal, and me, being the oblivious, naive girl that I am, didn't notice or think anything about it when the sonographer stopped talking. We wrapped up and waited in the room for the midwife to come in and go over the results with us. I immediately began to panic when she came in with a rather grim look. Little Beast (thus named because we weren't finding out the sex and she was a venomous beast making me sick) was too small, the 8th percentile, and the sonographer thought she saw a bilateral cleft lip. I don't even remember what we said, what questions we asked. I just remember feeling so, deflated. We'd had the maternal/fetal DNA test done already that had ruled out all the big chromosomal problems. I thought we were home free. Apparently not. The midwife gave us a referral to the Maternal Fetal Medicine doc to get a follow up ultrasound and figure what we were really dealing with. The hubs and I went to get some lunch, and I cried, and we called the MFM. Luckily, they had an appointment available later that afternoon so we didn't have to wait.
Honestly, I don't remember much between the two appointments, besides crying. I know we talked about what ifs and what to do, and just felt sad, and scared. I'm so glad we didn't have to wait, especially since the MFMs are only at the Boulder Hospital a couple of days a week and we were coming up on Memorial Day weekend. At any rate, we went to out MFM appointment that afternoon, and after a 2.5 hour ultrasound, God love our fantastic ultrasound tech, she was so sweet and calm and amazing, we met with Dr. Harper. She was so upbeat and lovely, she really eased a lot of our fears. Though Little Beast didn't let us get a good shot of her face (she always had her hands in front of her face, in the womb, once she was born, even now) the Dr and sonographer were fairly certain that her cleft was only unilateral and that she was measuring more in the 30th percentile. So, things weren't as dire as we first thought, but both the size and the cleft can be markers for chromosome problems, and since we'd ruled out the big ones already things were likely either just fine, or we had a problem that would make the pregnancy unviable.
Then came more decisions. Do nothing, abort, or do an amniocentesis to rule out bigger problems. We went with the amnio option, which was painful and took way longer than it was supposed to because Beast kept reaching for the needle. After that, all we could do was wait (three weeks for a full micro-array) and try to process.
I'm not going to lie, the processing was hard. Really hard. We both cried and just kind of holed up and mourned for the weekend. I was finally feeling pregnant, finally feeling the baby move, and now, everything just felt so uncertain. Our baby could have something terrible that would mean it wouldn't survive, and even if nothing major was wrong, we were still looking at several surgeries to fix a cleft lip and possible cleft palate. I might not be able to breastfeed. We'd have to watch our baby deal with surgery, and possibly some really tough bullying. It's so hard to go from feeling like everything is awesome to mourning what you thought things would look like.
At any rate, this post has gotten entirely too long, so I'll continue with our little saga later. Hopefully next week! I'd love to meet my readers, so if you are here leave a comment and say hi!