I am currently 15 weeks pregnant with our IVF miracle. You’d think you could take a miracle and just be happy to have it. Instead, I feel like I am spending most of my days in terror. Terror that this baby we fought so hard to have, will be taken from us. It is exhausting. I wish I could just enjoy the pregnancy as people like to tell you. I am well educated, 28 years old, and very experienced in what the world can throw at you. I know my thoughts and fear are often illogical. However, that does not mean I can make them go away. But I really wish I could. Some days I just lay there and beg the baby to let me feel it move. It is still so early for that, and I know that. Which is what drives me insane! I know what I should be dealing with, from readings, but I’ve never actually dealt with it. I do not know what is normal for my body, I only know I have read and what I have watched other experience. I am used to almost weekly scans or check ups. Now I am going on 4 weeks since I have seen a doctor. It is starting to take its toll on me. I’ve spend too much time wondering, is the baby okay? Am I doing things right? Is he/she still growing? Am I even pregnant or did I just imagine this whole situation? That seems ridiculous I know! I’ve seen the scans of the baby. Why in the world wouldn’t I believe it is there? Logical me, know it is there and everything is probably okay. But, anxiety driven me, is terrified. I’m used to things going wrong.
At week 12 we opted for the first trimester screening. I only wanted the screening because in my mind, I would rather grieve a diagnosis now and enjoy my baby when it is is born. I cannot imagine the toll it would take on you to get the diagnosis and the baby at the same time. I want, at birth, for our baby to be my focus. I don’t want to grieve then, if there is something to grieve. I went into the scan fully expecting for everything to be fine. I’m 28, healthy, and we had a great embryo transferred. None of those things mean I would be in the clear from anything going wrong, but I just didn’t expect a problem.
We went in for our sonogram and it was amazing to see our baby look so much like a baby! We got to see he/she in 3D and it was just beyond words. Their heart was beating away and it was just pure joyous. Then…
After the scan you go to the waiting room to wait to be seen by the doctor. While we waited we sent the photos of our baby to our parents and siblings. We were beyond excited to see our baby and share how “baby like” he/she has become!
We got called back to the patient room. They did their typical routine blood pressure and everything. Everything was good. Then the doctor came in. She shared that our babies Nuchal Translucencey (NT) appeared to be very thick. She shared that a thick NT scan can be a sign of Downs, Trisomy 12 and 18 (both typically lethal chromosomal issues), as well as Heart Defects. She continue to talk some information and next steps. All I could hear was my own breathing. Something always goes wrong, and here it is, was all I could think. My heart was stopping and I literally could not take it. I remember her saying, how sorry she was and she knew we worked so hard for this. I remember my husband telling her that this was our second attempt. This seriously cannot be happening, kept running through my head. I would love our baby no matter what it came into this world with, but just like any parent, you do not want to see them struggle. As a Special Education teacher, I am very aware of the struggle. I knew exactly what they were telling me that we may be dealing with and it was breaking my heart.
I was able to keep my body somewhat calm as I recalled what some people I know have experienced. When my Mom was pregnant with my sister, her blood work showed that my sister has a high chance of having Downs. My sister does not have Downs, she is perfectly fine. When the doctor mentioned Congenital Heart Defects, I thought of my friends daughter who is an amazing young girl who just happens to also have a heart defect. Her and her family fought, and their daughter is stronger because of it. I saw that other people survive this, I would have to too.
Our next step was the NIPT blood scan (Noninvasive Prenatal Testing). This test looks for fetal DNA in your blood. They test the DNA for chromosomal abnormality. This test takes about two weeks to get back. GREAT, ANOTHER TWO WEEK WAIT!
We were also sent to a specialist. Luckily we were able to see the specialist on Monday (our scan was on Friday). I could hardly function while driving there and waiting in the office. I begged my body to please just let me function. I tried breathing, I tried laughing, I tried it all. I even brought my Hope rock that I held for each of my injections to hopefully help calm me down! By the time I got into the patient room my blood pressure was of course high. They redid the scan and took a more thorough look at our baby. They did not get as high of a NT thickness as we originally had, which is great! Our baby also had a very well developed nasal bone. The lack of a nasal bone is another sign of chromosomal issues, such as Downs Syndrome. I could feel my body start to relax. I had a strong grip on my Husbands hand that I could start to ease. The specialist recommended the NIPT test to be sure, which we had already started. Our NT was within the normal range, however at the higher end of normal. He said that it may just be normal for me, which we do not know since this is my first baby.
The next week, we received our results from the NIPT test! The results shared that our baby does not show signs of chromosomal abnormalities! The terror those 1.5 weeks put us through were immeasurable! However, we know that at this moment our baby continues to be healthy!
Since my NT scan was on the thicker side of normal and our baby is an IVF baby they did recommend a Fetal Echo around 22 weeks of pregnancy. IVF babies have a very slightly higher risk of Congenital Heart Defects (very slight). Also, a thicker NT scan is a sign of a possible heart defect (but only a possible sign). We will get everything check out to make sure our baby’s heart is growing strong as soon as we can. For now, keep us in your prayers that our baby continues to grow healthy!
This entire situation obviously did not help my anxiety. The silver lining of it was that I had a specialist look our baby over from head to toe. This did help ease my mind some. However, I do still feel myself lingering in thoughts of, “what is next.” Every doctor appointment is scary, I never know what they are going to tell us. I feel like you go in blind, with no idea of what they might find or tell you.
When I feel myself starting to get stressed, I try to look a baby names or nursery ideas to help myself get excited instead. Sometimes it helps, however after a few minutes I start to feel like I am just crazy and it is too early to plan anything. I feel like I am just in this limbo period, where I cannot get a daily reminder that our baby is okay like kicks or movements. I am just wondering what in the world is going on in there! I am still getting sick and food is just not my friend most days. My clothes are getting tighter even though I am losing weight. So I guess that in itself is a sign that something is still changing in my body. I am trying to enjoy this pregnancy, but I simply cannot put these thoughts aside. People like to tell you to just relax. I cannot relax, I’ve tried everything I can think of to relax. I know I am being illogical, making it all the more frustrating. Having people tell you that you’re thoughts are not valid and you should just relax only makes things worse. The whole process of IVF has placed a fear in me that is very real. I wish I could explain it better.
I just wish I could check inside more often. I wish I could see a doctor more, I cannot stand four week waits. Several two week waits were enough!