May Day

Hi. My name is Jenn, it’s May 1st … and I’m having a baby this month.

It feels like the last 6 weeks have gone by in a blur while, at the same time, time has no meaning and has stood still. There have been a few memorable moments, but overall my days are bland and bleeding together. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering what I did or what I ate in any given day (and, as someone in recovery for an eating disorder, I’ve never had a problem remembering every single thing I’ve put in my body because that was a huge part of my disorder). It’s been a very strange time.

And yet, though time has felt like it was standing still and I was living in my own personal void black hole, the calendar still flipped to May today. And with that comes the month that my life fundamentally changes. I mean, yes, getting pregnant changes your life – from the moment I found out I knew I would always have to answer the “have you ever been pregnant” question with “yes”. Every month has been a new adventure of experiences and symptoms and trying to understand what was happening to me, and the baby by proxy. I didn’t get that 2nd trimester burst of energy … my 2nd trimester happened at the same time as a very stressful period of work and thus my life, so I came home from work every day exhausted. I haven’t gone through any nesting urges, so there are a lot of things I want cleaned in my home but have zero desire to do it myself. But May and my due date seemed so far away … even yesterday, even though I knew it was the last day of the month. But an unexpected appointment put all of it in perspective, and the last day of my last month baby-free was thoughtful and a bit emotional at times.

On Wednesday I received a call from my OBGYN’s office. She is not my primary caregiver for this pregnancy (I have chosen to do my care through a midwife and I feel very good and confident with that decision), but a referral was sent to her by my midwife and they finally had an opening for me to come in and wanted me there right away. I’ve gone back and forth about whether to share this information, but I’m going with the thought that I’ve been open about a lot of things on this blog lately and this is just one more thing … it’s part of my pregnancy so it’s important to acknowledge that it’s real and it’s happening.
Like most pregnant women I had my second ultrasound at 20 weeks (my first one was at 9 weeks to confirm pregnancy). This is generally the ultrasound where they tell you the sex of the baby (and we did find out, and I was extremely disappointed at the time but I’ve come around since then). BUT … they tech told me that the baby was positioned in such a way that they couldn’t get a good look at the spine. BF and I, not knowing any better, just shrugged and scheduled the next appointment hoping the baby would move so they could see it and we went on our way. We would have two more ultrasounds, not knowing that it was irregular in the slightest. At our next midwife appointment we found out why all the concern – on the first ultrasound they saw that the umbilical cord was a two-vessel cord, not the typical three vessel.

A typical umbilical cord is known as a three-vessel cord. What that means is there is one vein and two arteries (one on each side of the bladder), that obviously help feed and sustain the baby as it grows. In a two-vessel cord there is one vein and one artery only. It happens in about 1% of all pregnancies and no one really knows why it happens. It can result in deformed and/or under developed organs, less growth during the rest of pregnancy. The extra ultrasounds was to make sure they saw the umbilical cord as much as possible to confirm that the first ultrasound was right, and to get a good look at all the organs. So it wasn’t that they couldn’t see the spine on the first one, but that they couldn’t get a good look at the spleen … and they wanted to see every organ before my midwife shared the information with us. They didn’t want to cause unnecessary worry if they didn’t need to.

But they don’t know me. And of course this caused a bunch of worry. I spend days reading about it as much as I could … and not finding as much as I had hoped. What I did find said that, generally, most babies with this are perfectly fine. I was told that I would have more ultrasounds throughout the rest of my pregnancy to make sure the baby was growing as expected. And so I have. I have a huge stack of ultrasound pictures from almost every ultrasound I’ve gotten … so in that respect it’s really interesting that I can lay them out and see the baby grow basically month to month. After every ultrasound though I was constantly on pins and needles waiting for my next midwife appointment. Waiting to sit down with her, filled with worry that this appointment would be the one I hear that something was wrong.

Thankfully that hasn’t happened. At every one there was a huge sigh of relief to be told that baby was right on track. But a referral to an OB was still necessary. An OB still had to review all the ultrasounds, view all the data, and sign off that there was no need for intervention and (more importantly) no need to transfer my care from a midwife to an OB … which, as the province has shut down, became my top focus. I don’t want to shift my care. I went with a midwife over my OB (who I’ve known for years) because I wanted to be certain that I knew the person who would be in the room with me, helping me deliver. While my OB would try to be available there is no guarantee that she could be, whereas my midwife is most likely to be available to me the day of. That was super important to me, and now it’s critical.

And to the OB I went yesterday. She is easily one of the nicest doctors I’ve ever had and I was actually very hopeful going into the appointment. She confirmed that the baby is growing just fine, hitting all the markers they need to. She confirmed that all the organs look like they should, the baby looks as they should … there is no need to transfer my care to her for the rest of my pregnancy. She even wheeled in a little ultrasound machine to confirm the baby is no longer breech but the head is down and nicely sitting in my pelvis (which has been a super delightful feeling I can assure you). But then she said something I wasn’t expecting – a recommendation that I don’t go past my due date. Generally if there are no risks pregnancy can last up to two weeks past the due date before being induced if necessary. But in our case, because there is an anomaly with the cord, they don’t like to risk anything going wrong. The cord is meant to work up to 40 weeks but past that it could be problematic.

So I went from “I’m likely having a baby in May” to “I’m definitely having a baby in May”. It means there is no chance my baby will share a birthday with my brother, which is a little sad … but they could be close. It means that I went from maybe having a baby anywhere from now until 5 weeks from now to having my baby within the next 3.5 weeks. I have an appointment with my midwife next week and I’m certain we’ll discuss details of how this works if I’m coming up on the due date with no labour activity. But it went from “it’s happening soon” to “it’s happening SUPER soon and it’s very real”. I think it’s having a known end date that did it. And I’m likely to have one more ultrasound before this next appointment so all the information is available before decisions are made. And it’s hard to make decisions in the appointment on my own without BF there because he’s not there to hear with me from her directly, but has to rely on my failing memory to tell him all the important parts when I get home.

It’s May 1st and my child will be born anywhere from today until the 25th … but probably not past that (maybe the 26th if labour is long?). When days pass by without knowing this is going to be a very interesting month.

~ J

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