Friday, March 28, 2008

Postcards From That Knot In My Stomach...

So, if I recall correctly, I used to write for very therapeutic reasons as it seemed to help deal with unfortunate or difficult situations (all the while keeping the out of towners and nosey neighbours up to speed with life in londontown). Perhaps I should try that again.

Ok, where to begin...

As most know we are expecting a younger sibling for Gordo on July 15th making Kim 24 weeks today. Well 4 or so weeks ago was the big 20 week ultrasound and we were quite excited. The day came and we were happy to see that all the fingers and toes added up. We took our picture of baby-in-progress and sent it out into the virtual world.

The next day (a friday), I take the call from the Doctors office claiming they have the results from the ultrasound and ask for Kim to call in. She states it's no emergency and if she doesn't call back 'today', it's no big deal - all is ok. Phew. I pass it along to Kim and she plans to call on Monday.

Well, Monday rolls around and completely out of left field I get a call from Kim who is obviously crying on the other end... "I just called the doctors office and they want to do another ultrasound on the baby's heart"... Ugh.

Like any other situation where Kim is teetering on the brink of a complete loss of emotional control, I suppress everything and kick it into "Problem Solver" mode. We call the doctors office back and they inform us it is simply a request to take another look as they did not obtain a satisfactory image in the initial U/S. We rationalize it as them being efficient in their work with a strong inclination to be thorough in their examinations. While we felt confident things were going to be ok, we decided not to tell any family members that we were recalled for a second look. No sense putting everyone else through the ringer if we didn't have any certainties. For the next 3 weeks awaiting the U/S take 2, we don't vocalize/bring up the possibilities that there could actually be something wrong with our baby's heart. That is until we get to the ultrasound appointment and were given the requisition form detailing the initial request - "Recall patient - Examine 4 chamber heart in 3 to 4 weeks". Ugh.

This was last night.

Moments later Kim is called back to begin the U/S. I waited an eternity as happy mothers/fathers to be walked past gleaming from their recent experience of seeing their 'healthy' baby on the U/S monitor. My stomach is putting the finishing touches on a triple salchow when I am called back to participate in the viewing. I quickly ask if the technician can put my mind at ease and comment on the cardio situation. She chirply replies with a reassuring tone that the initial report simply states they didn't get a good look and they needed a do-over. Yay!

Kim and I came home basking in our relief that our little one is safe and sound.

This morning was Kim's monthly appointment with Dr. S but unfortunately the results from last night were not going to be in until later this morning. Nonetheless, she reiterated the old adage that U/S recalls are common and they simply needed a better look. She said she would call when the results came in.

I dropped Kim off at work and came home to a scheduled day of conference calls, 2 reports and an appointment mid day. One conference call down and half way through my first report I get a call from Dr S.

- Hi Steve, it's Dr. S.

Hi, how are you?

- Is Kim around?

No, you can try her on her cell phone...

- Oh, well, maybe it's best I tell you so you can tell Kim.

(cue the vertigo zoom as my stomach drops)

Ok... ...

- They noticed a problem in last nights U/S that was not there in the first one. There is fluid in the baby's abdomen and they don't know why. They also noticed an enlarged ventricle and the technician is quite concerned. I'm scheduling Kim for an immediate appointment for a series of tests at the /bla bla bla/...

I stumbled over the words in my head as I try desperately to gain control of the spinning... "how, what, huh" I'm stunned. It is utterly amazing how much you can love something/someone so much without having a tangible form of contact... my baby is sick?

Before I know it I am in the car on my way to see Kim with the unfortunate duty of breaking the news. I know this alone time will be my only opportunity to explore my own emotional response to the situation so I get my money's worth.

I parked the car and set out looking for Kim eventually catching up with her in her lab, alone. It didn't take much for her quirky smile to flatten and the chirp in her voice to fade as she realized something wasn't right. It could have been the shaking of my voice or shaking of my legs for that matter that clued her in, but seconds later I am explaining the situation.

...I don't need to document how she reacted...

A half hour later the Dr.'s office called with details on a series of appointments with the first one taking place at 12:30. We jumped in the car and headed down to the hospital.

While waiting for this newest U/S I couldn't help but prepare myself for a wide range of outcomes, most notably the worst case scenarios.

We were finally called in for the 45 minute cardio-specific ultrasound and then asked to come back at 3:30 to speak with the Cardiologist who will interpret the data.

Following an afternoon of trying to deal with the gravity of the situation, we ultimately accepted that there was going to be some form of unsettling news told to us when we eventually sat down with the Doctor. However, I did find myself spattering positive rhetoric throughout the day claiming at some points, "our baby's heart is fine!".

I love being right.

That being said, immediately following the doctor informing us that our baby has a perfectly developed heart with no problems, the "but" precariously hung off his lips.

He continued to tell us how the mistakenly recorded 'enlarged ventricle' was in fact a build up of calcium on the liver. This was in turn causing some fluid in the abdomen. This is being caused most likely as a result of an infection and is a more recent ailment.

...this is the part that gives me the goosebumps...

He stated that the original ultrasound showed no record of this and the calcium build up is something that has happened in the last 3 weeks.

So, had they been able to get a clear picture in the 20 week appointment, there would have been no appointment 4 weeks later and this problem would have progressed to an unimaginable outcome.

Nonetheless, we are still facing the fact that our baby is not well. We have a full day of tests scheduled for Tuesday. The doctor's leading theory is that Kim most likely came into contact with a virus of sorts which was passed to the baby. Fifth disease/Parvovirus B19 has not been ruled out. Kim was sent for one last U/S after the chat with the doctor to check for any development of severe anemia in the baby which could result (in 5% of infected prego's). Everything was normal, so we were told to enjoy our weekend and come back Tuesday.

It's amazing to think that had we been informed of the actual problem from the get go, we would be devastated. However after spending 3 weeks believing there was a more serious heart problem, the reality of it all seems quite manageable. We are very relieved to know that the heart is fine and the problem is found in one of the few organs that have regenerative properties.

So, it's been a hell of a day and I can't help but ask myself why we (parents) put ourselves through this. These damn kids of ours will never understand how much we love them...


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