It has been said ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. In time, the mind (protecting its sanity) covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.
I have had to make all types of decisions this pregnancy that I never thought I would have to make. First, whether or not to even attempt another pregnancy after the two losses. Then whether or not to take blood thinners, which have some risk. And then whether or not to have an amniocentesis done.
I had an amnio done after it was discovered that Nelle was growth restricted. It was a decision made on the spot, at the doctor’s recommendation, to see if we could determine the problem (and nothing was found). After we lost Iris, a chromosome panel was run as a matter of procedure. We’d had some earlier screening done, all of which was normal, so we were not expecting anything. But the panel came back with a micro deletion of the 15th chromosome, which is either Praller-Willi syndrome, or Angelman syndrome – both have very serious implications. The news came through a posting to my online medical chart and was unnerving. When I told Ger he said “I think I am having a panic attack.”
So this time, we met with a genetic counselor. The risk of a reoccurrence of this type of micro deletion is low, as it is considered a “random” incident. But in an already high-risk pregnancy, we felt like we needed all of the information we could get, as early as we could get it. Both the genetic counselor and Maternal Fetal Medicine said that they would support our decision either way – there were justifications both for and against an amnio. The quoted risk of loss with an amnio is 1 in 500, usually resulting from infection, bleeding, or fluid leakage. Amnio today are done via guided ultrasound, so no real risk of hitting the baby the way it used to be. It felt like another “no clear answer” in this journey of decisions we have had to make. We decided to take the risk.
I saw my OBGYN for my regular appointment after we had made the decision, before the amnio was scheduled. He is my favorite in the group practice, and said to me “I know you have been told of the risks, but I want you to tell you that we consider this a very routine, safe procedure.” I was so happy to hear him say those words. All that had been pounded into my head was “small risk, small risk.” I needed to hear “routine” and “safe.” It made me feel light years better about the decision.
A growth ultrasound was done first. I thought “Something isn’t right, she is taking way too long looking at the baby’s head.” But everything was normal, growth was perfect. Ger told me after that the ultrasound was incredibly stressful and brought back horrible memories for him. I thought “Yes, it does have that impact. And I have been to many more ultrasounds than you, since then.” He was with me when we learned that Nelle was growth restricted. I was alone for the ultrasounds that confirmed both Nelle and Iris were gone. I have been to every ultrasound in this pregnancy, so far, alone.
The MFM doctor came in and talked to us while he prepared for the amnio, trying to get us to relax. He talked so much that the baby shifted, and the area that they had designated for the amnio was no longer an ideal spot. He asked me to wait a few minutes while he prodded, seeing if he could get the baby to move. Finally, there was another shift and he was able to quickly insert the needle and withdraw the needed fluid. He told me that everything went completely fine. As he was bagging and adding labels to the vials, he said “I don’t want you to be too hopeful, but it feels different this time. I just have a good feeling, and I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that. Let’s just get you to 24 weeks.”