Wednesday, March 16, 2011

They Gave a Millimeter, and Tried to Take a Mile

Back at the hospital named for a saint, but still not feeling much peace, K and I sat nervously for our Second Trimester Screening. The wait wasn't long this time, and we were soon ushered into an ultrasound room. After declaring repeatedly we didn't want to know Z's sex, our ultrasound tech, the charming and funny "CC" got to work.

Within seconds Z appeared on the flatscreen, so much bigger than eight weeks ago, but still full of spunk. Z was wiggling, kicking and happily spreading tiny fingers. K doubled over with joy and laughter. To be honest, I have never seen my husband so ecstatic. He kept grabbing my hand, saying, "Do you see that? Ehhhh... ha!!" Of course I was seeing it. I just was too busy cheesing to actually say much. It's a wonder, an everyday miracle to see a baby in utero, one that is indescribable when that baby is your own, kicking around and playing.  It's like that old Frankie Valli song that my mom sang, and that I'd later sing when Lauryn Hill redid it, "Can't Take My Eyes Off You":

You're just too good to be true,
Can't take my eyes off of you,
You'd be like heaven to touch,
I wanna hold you so much,
At long last love has arrived,
And I thank God I'm alive,
You're just too good to be true,
Can't take my eyes off of you

Pardon the way that I stare,
There's nothing else to compare,
The sight of you leaves me weak,
There are no words left to speak... 

CC showed us long fingers and feet, full lips, a rapidly beating heart. Already strong calves and little arms. Z's brain and stomach. A thumb went into the mouth, and then more wriggles. CC commented on our "beautiful baby" who kept making faces. "Look at that face he's making! With the hand on the forehead, like he's already thinking, 'These are my parents? Sigh'". K and I laughed.

I felt myself relax. This visit was so much better than the first one. And thankfully, we wouldn't have to see "Tina". CC kept going with the jokes, and before we knew it, our glimpse into Z's world was over. "Everything looks awesome! I'm going to just go run and get the doctor, and she's going to do a quick scan to make sure my finding are alright," CC said as she walked out. K was fumbling with his cell, having just snapped a number of pics. "Dr. M." walked in and shook our hands. I couldn't help sizing her up. After Tina, this hospital's staff all get the crooked eye from me. There was a friendly tone in her voice, no hint of the rush evident in Tina's. She positioned herself at the ultrasound and quickly scanned down Z's little body.

After she was finished, she got up and began to speak in a soft, but serious manner. "The baby's kidneys are 4 millimeters dilated. That is one millimeter over what we like to see for this stage in pregnancy." Augh... yeah, my Spidey senses were right. That darn robot from "Lost in Space" would be screaming "Danger! Danger, Alisha De Freitas, Danger!" right about now.

"This is pretty common, occurring in about six to seven percent of all pregnancies. However, it IS a sign of Down's Syndrome." Dr. M looked me in the eye. I think this hospital's biggest fear is of disabled people being born, especially, dum dum DUM... Down's Syndrome. "So, based on your first visit's results, your child's likelihood of having Down's is doubled to...", she flipped through my chart, "... one in 850." I wanted to laugh aloud. One in 850? She's pulling out the ominous face for that? Dr. M continued, "So I'm going to recommend an amnio." I sat up and shook my head "no". I guess my nonverbal answer didn't register, because she continued with an explanation on what an amnio is, before saying, "There is a one in 300 chance for miscarriage, though." Uh huh. Well, I'm not a gambling woman, but hearing the odds for the chance of Down's to the likelihood of miscarriage pretty much cemented my "no" and I said (aloud this time), "No, no thank you, no amnio for me." Yes, I said the word "no" an admittedly inordinate amount of times for one sentence, but I wanted to end the discussion.

Unfortunately, Dr. M wasn't hearing it. She went on to say there are extremes of women, some who must know if their child has Down's and the other extreme, the women so cautious they wouldn't for any reason. Even though I objected to being put into an extreme, I raised my hand. NO AMNIO. She ignored my up-streached palm and continued her entreaty. She wasn't nasty, but firm in her repetition. And I was just as firm in mine. At last, she conceded defeat, and insisted on my return in six weeks, which will be the day before Good Friday. Before leaving she said defeatedly, "Well, without this test, I cannot guarantee 100 percent that your child will not be born with this disease." I cooly answered, "Ma'am, if I were looking for a one hundred percent guarantee, I wouldn't have gotten pregnant."


Dr. M's "100 percent guarantee" comment has stuck with me. I find it bizarre that she believes she could give me one, period. How? Is she God? And even if I took the test, is it even one hundred percent reliable?

Imagine if in life, we required 100% in order to act. I would never have married, since half of marriages end in divorce. Never attended college, with it's sad retention rate, especially among Blacks. I certainly would never drive- the risk for accidents being so great. What in LIFE is hundred percent guaranteed?

There are only a few I can think of- taxes and death. And God's love.


I've been real in saying I've been having my doubts. The crazy thing, this ongoing struggle from the unencouraging staff of St. Barbarians has actually increased my faith. Why? I'm not sure, but perhaps Paul's words in the fifth chapter of Romans is being manifest in my life- that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character will lead to hope.


Alan said...

I was born with one kidney that is the size of three. I think little Z will be just fine. Stick to your guns, Momma always knows best :)

Angie said...

Baby Z is alive and moving in there. Whether Z has Down's or 1 kidney...they are alive right now. We will be praying for you and Baby Z.

Melissa Pais said...

How would getting an amniocentesis change the results? No matter what the test may reveal, you will still Love that child unconditionally. You have come to Love this child without ever meeting and you will continue to do so till the time you meet. Those in the healthcare field have the responsibility of providing their patients with accurate information so that the patient can make an informed decision on their healthcare. The healthcare provider must also be respectful to their patients decisions with respect to their health. If you aren't happy with the way you have been treated or feel uncomfortable with what you were told, I implore you to get a second opinion. You deserve to be treated with the utmost care and dignity. Ultimately it is God's will, and it will always be his will regardless what a test may or may not reveal. I will keep you and your precious child in my prayers. All my Love and well wishes <3

cyruswoman said...

Let us pray for little Z. tests or not that is up to you. Healthy or not -thats up to God. Let Little Z be born a hundred % healthy. 3 things are sure in this world - death, taxes and God's power. One thing u most definately wont ever see, is the righteous forsaken. God bless you and hear the prayers of all those who will join in praying for Z. Count me in...

Alisha De Freitas said...

Hello All, I want to clarify a few things. Z has both kidneys, so anatomically, there are no abnormalities. At this point, Z's kidneys are slightly dilated- a little too filled with fluid. Normal is between 1-3 millimeters, 4 being a bit over. This happens in many pregnancies, and usually clears up before birth. In some instances, it doesn't, and means there might be a blockage which post birth could lead to kidney infections. Babies either outgrow this, or sometimes need surgery to correct it.

This can also be a sign (one of seven) of Down's Syndrome. Z does not have any of the other markers.

CC actually told me one of her children had the same problem, but outgrew it immediately. She really rocks. :-)

@Alan, really? Did it ever cause you problems?

@Angie & Cyruswoman, thank you, prayers are wonderful.

@Mel, I seem to have the worse luck with doctors! Normally, they don't speak to me like I'm inept. I usually get doctors who seem to care less about what's going on with or my feelings.

I believe Dr. M was trying to inform me of all options, but still felt I had chosen the incorrect one, which isn't really her place. I'll be seeing my regular OBGYN tomorrow, who I love, and I'll be sure to bring this up.

Anonymous said...

New here! Just had my baby in October, and she is wonderful as yours will be (btw, we also didn't find out the gender ahead of time and let me tell you, that surprise meeting is AWESOME. Look forward to it, because it is the best.).

Way to stand up to the doctor and you're so right: there is no 100% guarantee in anything, much less childbirth, pregnancy, and parenting. Congratulations on your little one!

Alisha De Freitas said...

Hi Forgottheflour,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Congratulations on your little One. I'm sure she is a blessing.

Thanks for the encouragement. I don't have any negative feelings about saying "no", and I honestly feel Z will be fine.

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