The Moment My Pregnancy Became Complicated

pregnancy belly
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Eight days before Christmas, I went in for my routine 20-week anatomy scan, excited to see my growing baby, and giddy to be entering the doctor's office alone. My husband had an eye appointment at the same time, so my sister was watching our daughter, and the chance to enjoy my ultrasound without having to entertain a 2-year-old at the same time was something I wouldn't pass up.

The ultrasound technician asked if I knew the sex, and I told her yes, that we had found out three weeks ago we were having our second girl, so no need to use gender-neutral pronouns when describing baby's organs. Within seconds of placing the wand on my tummy, she said, “Well, it's definitely not a girl!”, and, since I was letting the shock of her words sink in, I missed the look of concern as it flitted across her face.

I have always felt that pregnancy complications happened to other people; my husband and I are both free and clear of any problems, so the possibility of needing extra monitoring and concern had truly never crossed my mind.

She zoomed in on a specific area of my son's body, and began taking very detailed pictures. It was an oval-shaped structure with several empty holes filling the space. She then moved on, describing how she was looking at the heart, the liver, the lungs, and the brain. Everything looked great, she said, and then, after a long pause, she added, “But, I do see something that is worrying.”

My heart fell into my stomach.

She began describing my son's left kidney as covered in cysts, and noted that it was nearly three times the size of a normal kidney. She began discussing specialists, high-risk doctors, and in-depth ultrasounds, while my eyes filled with tears, and I struggled to make sense of what had just happened. Suddenly, my perfect pregnancy disappeared before my eyes, and I was faced with a complete unknown.

She left to discuss her findings with my doctor, and I immediately called my husband, almost incoherent when trying to explain to him what was going on. He abandoned his appointment and met me in the waiting room, and together we sat and listened to my doctor as he explained our son's condition, Multicystic Dysplastic Kidney, or MCDK.

Basically, the affected kidneys are riddled with numerous cysts, and are non-functioning, and it can affect one or both. If both are affected, the likelihood of the baby surviving is very small, while having only one affected is not uncommon, and, if watched carefully, should have no lasting affects throughout adulthood.

Because of the massive size of the kidney that could be seen on the ultrasound, they couldn't say for certain if both of our son's kidneys were affected or not, and we would need to be seen by a high-risk obstetrician two hours away. It was the longest three-day wait of my life for that appointment, and I was almost pacing in the waiting room. 

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Finally, we were called back, and I cried many, many happy tears when they said only one kidney was cystic, and the other one was just fine, working as it should, even picking up the slack of the non-functioning kidney. My lucky boy!

Now, at 35 weeks along, I have been seen by high-risk OBs monthly, and have seen my regular OB every other week since the 20-week mark, in addition to receiving weekly biophysical sonograms since 32 weeks. The many doctor appointments and numerous ultrasounds were not part of my vision for my second pregnancy, but I am grateful for all of the monitoring my son has received.

I imagine those first few moments when I hold my son, who I have been constantly worried about for so long will be quite emotional, and a huge relief. 

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I have always felt that pregnancy complications happened to other people; my husband and I are both free and clear of any problems, so the possibility of needing extra monitoring and concern had truly never crossed my mind.

Was your pregnancy as carefree as you had hoped? 

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The Moment My Pregnancy Became Complicated

Rachel is a stay-at-home-mom to her 4-year-old daughter, Sydney, and her 18-month-old son, Jackson. Her writing can be found all over the web, mostly detailing her own parenting struggles and triumphs, as well as her life as the military spouse of an active-duty airman. She also writes about her life as as a special needs parent on her blog, Tales From the Plastic Crib, and spends an unnecessary amount of time on Twitter. ... More

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