OK, I admit it — a few months ago, I suffered from a very short-lived bout of baby fever. I’m happy to announce, however, that I’ve fully recovered.
One of my best friends shared some joyful news with me in July when I visited my family in Missouri — she’s expecting her second baby.
My friend, Katie, and I first met in 1999, when we were paired up as college roommates. Since then, we’ve cultivated a wonderful friendship.
Katie’s first daughter was born in February 2012, just two months before my daughter. After enjoying such a close-knit friendship for so long, Katie and I were thrilled to learn we’d welcome our first children around the same time. During our pregnancies, we compared notes, chatted excitedly, grumbled about similar discomforts and sent each other gifts. I loved having someone to share the experience with.
So, when I learned a few months ago that Katie would be going through the whole process again, I felt a surprising twinge of jealousy. I was beyond thrilled for her, but a little sad knowing she’d soon have a brand-new, beautiful, tiny baby to rock, feed, cuddle and enjoy. After all, who can resist a newborn infant’s sweet innocence? I must stress, though, that it’s the idea of welcoming a new baby that is appealing to me, not the thought of another pregnancy. While Katie’s first pregnancy went well, mine was rocky, and it’s not something I’m prepared to go through again.
This time around, though, my friend is encountering some difficulties, and my heart goes out to her because I know how she feels. A couple weeks ago, she was put on bed rest due to a condition called placenta previa. Everything likely will be fine, but Katie does have to take it easy, which is no small task when you have a 2-year-old. She’s doing OK, but is understandably anxious and doing her best to be strong. I’m supporting her as best I can from afar, but seeing my friend struggle with this is what cured my baby fever. It brought back memories of bed rest, constant doctors’ appointments, repeated ultrasounds, test results, fretting, praying, crying and trying to appear unfazed while I’d never been so scared.
At my 12-week checkup, my husband and I learned I had a subchorionic hemorrhage, which likely would go away on its own, but had the potential to cause problems. I was warned to take it easy. Thankfully, the condition did go away.
At my 20-week checkup, my husband and I learned that our daughter had a small echogenic intracardiac focus (EIF) on her heart, which is a soft marker for Down syndrome. Although my quad screening at 12 weeks had come back negative for any chromosomal or genetic abnormalities, I couldn’t help but panic. After a lot of mental anguish, a detailed anatomy scan of the baby (often called a level II ultrasound) and much discussion with my husband, we decided to forgo an amniocentesis, which is a procedure used to diagnose chromosomal abnormalities. It carries with it a risk of miscarriage, and that wasn’t something I was prepared to chance.
Once again, all the heartache was for nothing. Our daughter was born perfectly healthy.
At my 27-week checkup, I was told my blood pressure was off the charts and ordered to stay in bed. A few days after that, I was informed that the glucose screening conducted at that 27-week checkup indicated I had high blood-glucose levels, possibly indicating the presence of gestational diabetes.
Again, I shouldn’t have worried. My blood pressure stabilized and never spiked again (high readings likely were caused by work-related stress), and a second glucose screening came back normal — no diabetes.
However, the biggest blow came around 30 weeks, when my doctor told me that yet another test revealed I’m a cystic fibrosis carrier. This means I carry the gene for a debilitating, life-threatening illness that affects the lungs, however I do not have it. I was warned that if my husband also was a carrier, our daughter stood a significant chance of being born with the disease. I melted down. Who wouldn’t have?
As it turned out, though, I should have saved my energy. One week and $1,000 later, my husband’s cystic-fibrosis screening revealed he is not a carrier. For a child to be born with the illness, both parents must be genetic carriers.
Finally, a few weeks after that, our beautiful baby girl was born. She was — and still is — absolutely perfect. I spent nine months completely on edge for no reason.
While I’m glad prenatal diagnostic capabilities are so advanced these days, my experience made me wonder if perhaps medical science is almost too advanced for comfort. I appreciate my doctors going out of their way to keep me informed throughout my pregnancy, but all those tests, procedures and screenings only caused me to worry unnecessarily when I should have been enjoying the happiest time of my life and preparing to meet my daughter.
So, I’ll go ahead and leave the baby-having to my friend. Pregnancy isn’t for the faint of heart, and I’m just not up to the challenge. I’ll continue to do my best to help Katie through the emotional ups and downs, and when her little one arrives, I hope I’ll be one of the first to hold that gorgeous little bundle of sweetness.