As a pregnant lady I spent my entire first trimester aware that the baby could kick it at any time. I wasn’t particularly worried about it happening except for the ticking time bomb part. Like one day I would be doing my thing, like normal, and poof something horrific and startling would begin to happen in my body. That part was a scary threat. I think for the majority of society pregnancy is viewed in two ways: successful and not, miscarriage and full term. The problem with that is there are a lot of subtle issues that could happen during pregnancy and baby-development that can change lives, can make pregnancy a much scarier ticking time bomb, can carry a lot of social weight. Basketcase is here to talk about her current experiences dealing with some complications – that may or may not turn out complicated… but that’s also part of the dilemma.
After a mentally tough first half of the pregnancy, where we kept the news quiet from everyone until well after I was 12 weeks along, we went into our 20-week anatomy scan slightly nervous, but not overly worried. Things looked reasonably good – Baby P was a little small, but had all the relevant organs and they were all working. But.
But Baby P has SUA – Single Umbilical Artery. It’s certainly not a death sentence in most cases. But it can be. Sudden Foetal Death occurs in somewhere between 5 and 20% of all cases. Of course, given that SUA only impacts under 1% of all pregnancies, that’s not a relief. We are NOT the 99%, and we can only hope that we will be in the 80% who survive. Even within the 80% there are still risks – growth retardation, nutrient reduction, early labour.
Another but: Surviving isn’t all. Anyone who starts researching SUA will quickly find that is “commonly correlated” with a disorder called Trisomy 18 (Edwards Syndrome). T18 appears in about 1 in 6000 live births. Slimmer odds again, we hope. Especially given Trisomy 18 has a normal life expectancy of about 1 week, extending to pre-puberty in rare cases (likely accompanied by severe physical and mental handicaps).
But really, the risks are low. Low is not to say non-existent, and it’s the fact they exist that screws with your mind. I honestly wonder if it would be better to have some issue confirmed – like a friend whose baby was diagnosed at 20 weeks with dysplastic kidney – where its worth telling people, rather than worrying them for what could be nothing, or could be awful. It would also give a valid reason for the extra testing, as opposed to potentially having to make up excuses for it (that anyone who has had a baby recently will see straight through). But, since I don’t like people worrying about me any more than is strictly necessary, none of our friends or family have been told that this is anything but a completely normal pregnancy (For now. If any complications are confirmed, this will obviously change).
In a way, it’s a good thing. I don’t have people watching over me (any more than normal for a pregnant woman), making sure I drink enough, questioning my (lack of) weight gain, researching on our behalf, wondering about Baby P’s most recent movements, stressing me out by trying to make me un-stressed.
At the same time, it’s also incredibly isolating. Sometimes I desperately want to tell the world that our baby has a potential issue. Some days I want the sympathy. Some days, talking to friends, it’s so hard to keep it quiet and not let it slip. The day of panic where the baby hadn’t moved for 18 hours after I was sick due to a digestive complaint, and I had no-one to talk to because M was at work and no-one knew.
The waiting. Waiting for our next scan to ensure the baby is growing. Waiting for the next time I usually feel movement. Waiting for the baby to arrive, so we can know whether there are going to be any on-going issues. The inability to do anything beyond hope – we can make plans for the future, but they are always couched in the hope that there will actually BE a child, and that it will be healthy. Because assuming anything else is a nightmare.
For the moment, Baby P seems to be strong and healthy. We start our additional monitoring in the new year, assuming everything goes well until then. I have to pin my hopes to all being well (which it IS, in something like 75% of cases), and try to connect with the baby, regardless of the fear of losing it and the pain that would cause. And after an ambivalent start to the pregnancy, that’s something I’m struggling with – the fight between “If I don’t try to connect soon, there is something wrong with me” and “But what if it all falls apart? If I don’t connect deeply, it might hurt less”. And trying to avoid the awkward conversations about what we would do (with regards to trying again) if Baby P does end up not arriving, and whether that’s better or worse than arriving with complications, because what parent-to-be really wants to face up to that dilemma?