Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ultrasound = Not Fun!

You remember how I had my blood tested again to get a more detailed count of my AFP levels? Well, they never called with the results so I was thinking positively (yes, I really was) and I thought no news meant good news. The other night I felt something in my belly that felt like a bubble popping and I thought that might be the baby moving. Also, the baby has been basically dancing on my cervix and I can feel it several times a day. So I was feeling pretty good about the baby. I'd even started a registry at Amazon and I was picturing my cute baby in this swing and this outfit and playing with this toy. I ordered a Peanuts growth chart off eBay for the nursery and Brian ordered a book about a baby's first year. I did have a little bit of concern in me but I thought all of that would be cleared up at the scan.

Everyone has been telling me what a wonderful experience the anatomy scan is. They bring back pictures of hands and feet, and the cutest profiles with button noses and I guess I was expecting something a little unrealistic. I was imagining it as being one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. The perfectly healthy baby would be dancing and waving at us and maybe even blowing us kisses while everyone in the room cried tears of joy, even the ultrasound tech. Not only did I think it would be great, but I thought it would relieve me of all of my concerns and that I'd go on to spend the next 19 weeks in pregnant bliss. Now for the reality...

First she asked if we wanted to know the sex. I said no. Then she said, "I have to pay extra attention to a few things because your AFP is high." WHAT? They never called so I thought I was ok. This was when things took a turn towards Crapville.

She put the probe on my belly and said, "You're probably gonna have to come back because he's facing away from us and I can't get a lot of shots this way."

She checked the heartbeat (158), weighed the baby (12 oz) and said "The spine looks good" That's a really important thing because a high AFP could mean a Neural Tube Defect and that would be either in the spine or the brain. It seemed like I might be making a U-turn and heading away from Crapville until she went for the head...

She spent a lot of time on the head and got real quiet for a bit. Then she started huffing and puffing and said, "This isn't working. I'm gonna have to try something else." She got out a different probe and tried again. She took shots of the head/brain from several different angles. I was starting to panic so I asked if everything looked normal and she snapped, "I'm having a hard time here! Your doctor will talk to you. That's what he gets paid for!" Not only am I officially in Crapville, but I've purchased a home there. I am now sure that there's something wrong with the baby because if she can tell me the spine looks good she can certainly tell me the brain looks good and since she's not saying that it probably doesn't look good! I was being quiet, just lying there and trying not to cry when she said (totally unprovoked!), "I mean, I'm not even done yet and you're asking me questions." WTF, Bitch?!?!?!? Sorry if I don't know ultrasound protocol! I find it hard to believe that you do this for 8 hours a day and nobody ever asks you a single question! Shouldn't people in this field have some kind of compassion? Now not only am I worried about my baby but I'm ready to knock this bitch out! Also, the whole time we were in there she kept saying "he." One time she caught herself and added, "or she." Maybe she always uses male pronouns. I don't know and I wasn't about to ask her another question but she did say she was able to determine the gender so she knows either way. Besides, I was too worried about the health of the baby at this time and didn't care if it was a hermaphrodite. They can fix that. But there's nothing they can do if our baby's missing part of "his" brain.

After the scan, as we're walking to the examination room, I see this bitch at the counter showing the doctor the pictures she'd taken. I don't know, do they always do this? I couldn't hear what she was saying but her hands were waving around and she seemed really animated. It bothered me. I don't know a lot about this but I would think if everything on a scan seemed normal that the tech would stick the pics in a file or something and that would be the end of it. I could be wrong, but seeing this make me even more nervous.

The nurse puts us in an exam room and says, "You don't have to sit on the table because the doctor's just going to talk to you today." Just curious, but would anyone else be alarmed by such a statement? We're not medical professionals here. We're just parents worrying about a baby. Shouldn't these people be a bit more sensitive? Looking back I've realized that there is no reason for the dr to examine my uterus or check for a heartbeat since we just saw that the baby is alive and the size he's supposed to be. But in that moment of panic I wasn't thinking logically and people in this field should be used to this!

We're sitting in the exam room and every minute that goes by brings more dread. My heart is thumping hard in my chest. I'm starting to feel hot and dizzy. I keep an eye on the trash can that says "Paper Waste Only" just in case I need to vomit. I'm beginning to think I was elected as mayor of Crapville. We sit there for 30 minutes before the nurse comes back and says the dr got called away for an emergency c-section. She said all the other drs are really busy but she'll see if she can grab one. IF? FOR REAL PEOPLE? Ugh, these people should have gone into careers that had then sitting at a computers all day and NOT jobs dealing with people!!!!! Especially overly-emotional pregnant people! Geez!

About 10 minutes later my favorite doctor comes in. There are 6 doctors there and only 1 of them is on call everyday for deliveries so any one of them can show up to deliver a baby. What they do is they rotate you a different dr every appointment so that you have a chance to get to know all of them. This doctor, Dr Cockfield (I know! An OBGYN named Cockfield - how ironic, right?) is my favorite and when I saw her face pop in the door I felt immediate relief. I knew that even if it was bad news I would feel better having it come from someone sensitive and patient like her, rather than some of the other drs who were always brisk and in a hurry. And this is what she had to say...

Everything looks good! The scan showed no signs of any problems with the spine or abdominal wall but my AFP levels were 2.5 times the normal amount. She said this was probably due to the unexplained spotting I had in the first trimester because if there's a pocket of blood caught somewhere in the sac it will send out AFP and cause my levels to be higher. She said they see this all the time but she is going to send me to get another scan with a high-risk specialist for a second opinion and that from now on I will have an ultrasound every 4 weeks. Is all of this settling? I didn't feel like it was, no.

I cried all the way home. I cried because the lady was mean to me (I'm very sensitive!), I cried because this perfect moment I'd built up in my mind would forever be tainted, and I cried because I'd been looking for reassurance and hadn't gotten any. Yes, the spine and belly are good but she didn't specify about the brain! And if she was sure everything was ok she wouldn't send me to a specialist two hours away, right?

Now that I've had 24 hours to calm down and really think about it, I'm starting to feel a little better. I did some research on Google and learned a few things. I learned that it's hard to get clear images of an ultrasound if the mom has some extra belly fat. It's possible that the tech was just frustrated because she couldn't see as clearly as usual, not to mention that the baby was upside down AND backwards! I also learned that the AFP blood tests are intentionally designed to give out a high number of false alarms so that they don't miss anything. It's better to worry over nothing

My friend, Billi, says to look at the silver lining. She said the silver lining is that I get to see my baby A LOT from now on. I guess most people would think of that as a good thing but I'm definitely not looking forward to seeing that bitch again. My silver lining is that I have an excuse to go to Traverse City where I can go to Target and get a frozen Coke! Appointment is February 11th and I bet they have a great tech there =)


Susan said...

I hate ultrasounds. For all the reasons you enumerate. I hate ultrasound techs. I think they take a class in rude. I hate the medical system that says the only person worthy of information is a doctor - it is my body for crise-sake - tell me what you see and then send me to the doc so s/he can tell me what it means.

Mostly I hate when other people have information about me that I don't know yet. I am not very good at taking medical tests.

I have to say - there is one hospital I have been to with a friend who thought she was having a heart attack. They were ALL wonderful. The nurses said helpful things like "Your test results are back and your enzyme number is 3. The doctor will be in soon to tell you what that means."

The cool part was the doctor who had ordered the test had already said "Now we are going to get an enzyme test and what we are looking for is a number of a couple hundred or more. Anything over XXX means you have had a heart attack." SO not being stupid we could figure out that 3 was far less than even 100. It was amazing how fast my friend's blood pressure normalized after that little piece of factual information. We didn't know what 3 meant but we knew it was far better than we feared. If the number had been 300 we would have been able to start coming to terms with the truth. It is the unknown that will drive us all insane before the industrial medical complex is done with us!

Hang in there and enjoy your frozen Coke!

Just a girl... said...

Sending you hugs & kisses Beautiful!!!! I will keep y'all in my prayers. Don't look on the internet too much it can give you a lot of anxiety.

Let them know about the tech and request a new one... If no one tells them they can't do anything about it...
Love you girlie!!!!