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Monday, December 29, 2014

Baby Bump: Week 22

How far along? 22 weeks

What's baby up to? Baby is about the size of a spaghetti squash.  Mmmm....I love spaghetti squash!!  She is just under 11 inches and weighs a little less that a pound. Her lips, eyelids, and eyebrows are becoming more distinct.  

Total weight gain: Not exactly sure....I've been afraid to weigh myself.

Maternity clothes? Pants, yes.  Shirts, not necessarily. 

Symptoms: RLS

Sleep: Still waking up some during the night, but not nearly as bad.  

Food cravings: Not really!

Food aversions: None

Movement? Yup!  And Jacob felt her move for the first time on the morning of Christmas Eve.  We were at 
his parents house and she was getting crazy.  He put his hand on my stomach and she gave him quite the show!  I could not stop laughing because it was like she started kicking even harder when we put his hand up there.  It was definitely very exciting for him to finally be able to feel her squirming around in there.

Miss anything? Nope!

Best moment of the week: Jacob feeling baby girl kick for the first time.

Looking forward to: One last week of Christmas vacation.

Friday, December 19, 2014

An Early Christmas Gift

So we have now heard back from Brandy (the genetics nurse) at ECU as well as my midwife, Mandy.  When I saw the phone number from ECU my stomach instantly dropped.  All I could think of was the last call and the news I had gotten.  As soon as I had picked up the phone and learned who it was my response was, "Oh no...."

So Brandy wasted no time diving in to the test results.  "You are low risk for Trisomy 13.  You are low risk for Trisomy 18.  You are low risk for Trisomy 21," said Brandy.  "I'm sorry.....what??!", was my response to her.  "You're low risk across the board!", she reiterated.  And I think I just stood there.  I didn't cry.  I didn't scream in excitement.  I didn't really do anything....I just stood.  I'm not sure what I expected my reaction to be, but I don't think I would have guessed that in a million years.

"Candice, are you still there?", Brandy was asking.  "Oh yeah, I'm here!", I replied.  When I got my thoughts straight, I finally managed to ask her what exactly low risk meant.  Similar to the AFP testing, the results come back categorized into risk factors.  I fell into the lowest risk category across the board.  Less than 1 in 10,000.  Yes you read that correctly, and I didn't accidentally type an extra zero.

I'm not sure if it was because I was expecting bad results or if I had written the whole situation off and was expecting good results.  I'm not sure what exactly had subconsciously gone on in my mind, but I do know that God had worked on me.  I think now, that I had finally come to terms with our situation. I had finally come to realize that I could not control the outcome of this situation (something that I have always struggled with).  I had begun to rest in the knowledge that God would bring us through any situation, either situation.  And I had started thinking about the beautiful life that we could still have even if our sweet girl did have "designer genes".

 I didn't know what the outcome was going to be and that was okay. And to be honest, we still don't know what the outcome will be. But we do have a little better picture into what is going on inside of me.  When I talked to Mandy this evening, she was so upbeat and encouraging (as she always is).  I told her that the doctor at ECU had offered us an amnio and she said that she wouldn't do that in a million years with the cards that we now hold in our hands.  And we're on the same page with her.  Obviously, there will be a tiny part of us that wonders until the day our girl is born.  But that won't steal our joy, for our joy rests in the Lord and is not contingent on situations or circumstances.  And we are just as blessed now as we would have been with a different report.  And we will be just as blessed at the time of birth if our baby has Down Syndrome as we would be with a typically developed child.

So, we thank each and every one of you for all of your prayers.  We have had countless texts, emails, Facebook messages (public and private) sharing your thoughts, prayers, and stories with us. I have even gotten messages from complete strangers....literally!  People that neither of us know from Adam that have shared their story, how they are relentlessly praying for us, and given us scripture.  And we are so grateful.  So this Christmas, we received an early Christmas gift.  One that wasn't wrapped up in shiny paper tied with ribbon and placed under the tree.  This Christmas we are praising God for good news- on a multitude of levels.  The good news that we received this week as well as the Good News that He has given to the world. Merry Christmas {a little early} Y'all!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Baby Bump: Week 20

Halfway there!

How far along? 20 weeks

What's baby up to? Baby is swallowing more and has begun producing meconium. Supposedly the baby is about 10 inches long, head to heel, but I'm thinking she may be a little longer than that since she was already over 9 inches at our appointment in Greenville (which was in the 85th percentile). 

Total weight gain: 5 pounds- whoops!  Gained a little bit since I last caught you up.  I help on tight to 2 lbs. all the way up until 17 weeks then over doubled my weight gain in 2 weeks. :-)

Maternity clothes? Pants, yes.  Shirts, not necessarily. 

Symptoms: Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)- I've always struggled with this a little bit, but if I sit in one place for too long it is even worse these days.  Other than that, no real pregnancy symptoms.  I got a head cold about a week ago which then turned into a sinus infection and let's just say it is NO FUN being sick--especially when you are pregnant.  Fortunately, my GYN agreed to see me in their office after I begged them to not have to sit at Urgent Care with all of the flu/strep infested people.  Bonus=getting to hear the baby's heartbeat while there!

Sleep: About 8 hours at night (if I don't wake up from about 1-3:30 which is pretty typical).

Food cravings: Not really!

Food aversions: None

Movement?  Yes!!  I finally feel movement.  I think it took me a little longer than average, but I can finally definitely say I feel movement.  There were things that I thought were movement around 18-19 weeks but I could never pinpoint it.  And so since I wasn't 100% positive, I just discounted it.  But I am definitely feeling wiggles and occasional pokes.  I would describe it as a fish flopping when she is wiggling.  And while I wouldn't say she is kicking yet, I am definitely feeling some pokes.  Now, we wait for Jacob to be able to feel things.  We've tried a few times, but every time he touches my stomach she immediately stops moving. 

Miss anything? While I've never really been a "back sleeper", I do typically lay on my back and read before going to bed.  Gone are those days :-(

Best moment of the week: CHRISTMAS BREAK!  For.Two.Solid.Weeks. Thank you, Lord!

Looking forward to: Seeing all of our family for Christmas, Christmas Eve service with Jacob's parents and STEAMED OYSTERS (I love that tradition), Christmas evening with my family after all of the hustle and bustle the day has to offer, relaxing on my break, and a manicure on Tuesday!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Fan, Alumna, Patient

During my time as a Morgan, I have gotten to know East Carolina University in many different ways. First, it started off as a slow fade to becoming a fan.  :-)  NC State had my heart for a while, but when we got married I converted over to a full fledged ECU fan.  About two years after we got married, I decided to pursue my master's degree in Special Education and applied to be a graduate student through ECU.  In December 2012, I graduated with my master's degree in Special Education from ECU and became an alumna.  Then in November 2014, I also added patient to my list of affiliations. No longer am I able to go to New Bern to see my beloved midwife.  I am now considered high risk. No woman wants to hear those words when she is pregnant....especially not one who is below 35 like me.  Clearly, that entails that something is wrong.

On the morning of our appointment, I was a mess.  I was barely holding back tears, my stomach was upset, but I was trying to put on a strong front.  When we entered into the hospital and I got registered, a peace came over me.  I was still scared to death, but I knew that God was right there with me.  I knew that he had already planned my days and chosen our baby specifically for us.  I knew that no matter what the outcome was, that my God was faithful and his providence would be made known through our situation. The lyrics resounding in my head were, a peace that passes understanding is my song.  Which, by the way, is very ironic because Aaron Shust has a son with DS. 

So, on December 5 at 9:10, we walked through the doors of the East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine high risk clinic to go to genetic counseling and have a Level 2 ultrasound done.

In genetic counseling, Allison (our counselor's name) explained to us all about Down Syndrome.  She didn't tell me anything that I didn't already know, but she trudged forward for Jacob's benefit.  She then went in depth about our family histories asking questions about general conditions (HBP, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart conditions, etc.).  But, more importantly she spent time drawing out our family tree asking about genetic disorders (by the way, Trisomy 21 isn't necessarily thought to be passed down through generations--though it can be-- it can also just be an anomaly) and intellectual standing of each person.  While we did tell her that there were definitely some branches of the tree that weren't all there.....just kidding!!  Allison ended the appointment with, to me, the craziest/most disgusting thing a mother will ever hear.  We explained to her that we wanted to do the Harmony test, wait for the results, then decide about an amnio.  To which she explained that we were pushed a deadline (wait 10 days for blood results, get back in for anmio appointment, wait 10 more days for results) and that would bring us dangerously close to 24 weeks (the legal deadline for abortion), so that if we wanted to terminate the pregnancy we wouldn't be able to.  I quickly shut her off and explained to her that we have complete trust and faith in the Lord.  And that he has a plan for us, and that we would never get in the way of that plan or even consider an abortion.  She was very understanding, told us that she had to inform us of all options, and didn't mention it again. Altogether, the genetic counseling took approximately 30 minutes and I walked away with a few pictures that I took, well...just for kicks and giggles.

My blood results and risk percentages
Our family tree
Then, we went back out to the waiting room to wait for the Level 2 ultrasound.  Let me take a second to just say that we have amazing families. My mom and dad came as well as Jacob's mom to wait with us in the waiting room.  They knew there was a chance that waiting in the waiting room was all they would be doing, and they still came to support us.  It was definitely comforting knowing that they were behind just a few walls should we need them.  Back to the ultrasound-- While the Level 2 ultrasound is not conclusive, it was going to give us more information to work with.  It only differs from a regular ultrasound in the fact that it has to capability to do a nuchal translucency test.  The ultrasound lasted at least 45 minutes if not a little longer. Our ultrasound tech, Michelle, was amazing!  She took her time and explained to us exactly what she was looking at.  She looked at the following things specifically (and I may be leaving some out) and was looking for the followings things: the heart (4 ventricles with no holes), the paired organs (2 present), the intestines (blood flow was sufficient), big toes (in line with the other toes), pinky fingers (3 joints), femur bones (correct length), head circumference, nose bone (that it was present and positioned correctly), nuchal fold on the back of the neck (that the thickness was within normal limits), eyes/nose positioning (that the eyes were an appropriate distance from the nose), lips (looking for no indicators of cleft).  I think that is about it.  And the whole time, our baby girl was very cooperative.  I learned my lesson from the last ultrasound and did not drink OJ prior to coming.  Of course, I didn't eat or drink anything, because my stomach was in knots.....diarrhea with a tendency toward throwing up (probably TMI!). When the ultrasound tech started looking at our baby's heart, I asked her if there were 4 chambers there because somehow I had gotten confused in New Bern when they were only looking for 2.  At that time, she opened up and really started explaining to us what was going on.  Though she probably wasn't supposed to, she went through each of the above listed soft markers and explained to us exactly what she saw.  I was so thankful because it meant I didn't have to lay there in complete panic and worry throughout the entire ultrasound.  During the last 15 minutes, the ultrasound tech had Jacob go get our parents and they were able to come in for the last part of the ultrasound.  I think she knew she had an audience because she started showing off for all of the grands!  We got to see her moving her arms around, putting them on her head and cheeks, yawning, crossing her legs, and more.  It was the first time that I had actually thought an ultrasound was cute.  Up to that point, ultrasounds had only been scary.

At the end of the ultrasound, we saw the doctor and he again confirmed that there was no evidence of any soft markers for DS.  He also told us that the ultrasound wasn't fail proof because it was still only a screening tool.  In fact, 50% of the time a child has Down Syndrome, there are no soft markers present on an ultrasound.  Very comforting, right?! Then, of course, the doctor offered us diagnostic testing-- aka, an amniocentesis.  We decided to do one more screening before pursuing something invasive.

So, I headed off to the lab for more blood work.  Mandy, my midwife, had recommended that I get the Harmony Prenatal test done while there because 1) it is not invasive and carries no risk, 2) insurance covers it at the high risk clinic, and 3) it is much more reliable than the AFP test.
 False Positive Rate*Detection Rate**
Harmony Prenatal TestLess than 1 in 1,000More than 99 in 100
Traditional Test1 in 2085 in 100
  The Harmony test screens for 4 different things as opposed to the less specific 4 the AFP test measures. It measure your AFP (alphafetoprotein), hCG, Inhibin A, and Estriol, then based on the levels of each determines your risk factor.  We are supposed to get those results in about 10 business days. From there, we will make a decision on whether or not to pursue an amniocentesis.

After my lab work, we headed back out to the lobby and were done!!  We decided to all go to lunch together at McAllister's Deli to celebrate the good report. Both Jacob and I got a bacon spud with a cup of chili and boy was it good!  I think it tasted even better because a little bit of stress had been lifted from our shoulders.