Sunday, July 18, 2010

It gets worse before it gets better.

I had a prenatal appointment this past Wednesday. It was my 37-week routine check-up. I also finally got a chance to go for a tour of the labor and delivery floor at the hospital and I got to go in the NICU. After talking with the nurse practitioners in the MFM program at the hospital, I have decided that I want to wait a little while before I give birth to Caleb. Here are the reasons why.

Firstly, I thought it would be a good idea to ask the nurses about holding Caleb when he is born. Up until now, I have had this hope that he would be born crying and breathing with a steady heartbeat. I thought that maybe I would be allowed to hold him for a little while before they take him away for all the tests and whatever else they have to do to him. The nurses assured me that I would not, under any circumstance, be able to hold him before he goes to the NICU. Even if he is born "pink and screaming" I would be allowed to give him a kiss on the cheek at best.

The nurse said that he might be breathing and in 5 minutes, he wouldn't be. She said that they just can't take any risks until they know for sure that he is stable. Now I am sure that any mother can understand the desire to hold her baby as soon as he is born. I believe in the bonding process and that it is important for both mother and baby. I also know that it is common for mothers who miss out on this bonding process to end up with post-partum depression...which I am at a great risk for anyway.

So I would like to hold Caleb close to my heart for as long as possible before they take him from me. There have been people telling me that it is all for the greater good and that Caleb will be in good hands. People are telling me to remember that they will need to take him in the beginning so that I can have a better chance to hold him later. Now I do realize that these things are true, but that doesn't really make it easy to accept it all. I know that when the time comes, I am going to be bawling. I know that I am going to be wondering if he will die before I get a chance to hold him...that would truly haunt me forever. I know that I have to surrender myself and all my desires for Caleb and his health, but it is going to be extremely difficult.

Then, there is the new discovery that was made in the last ultrasound. Up until now, we knew that Caleb had 2 separate issues with his brain. One of the issues is the heterotopia, which is the mass of excess tissue in the left-frontal lobe. The other issue is the absence of the corpus callosum and the presence of the cyst in its place. The doctors had noted that the right side of the brain appeared to be developing normally and they hoped that the right side would compensate for the left.

It has been explained to me that in recent weeks, Caleb has developed an issue with the right side of his brain. He now has moderate hydrocephaly, which means there is swelling in a ventricle. His right lateral ventricle is moderately dilated, and I have been told that this will require a shunt to be put in. This would be an entirely different procedure from the one he may potentially have on the left side of his brain, so now, we are talking multiple surgeries from the get go. Not to mention the fact that shunts that are required because of abnormal anatomy need to be in place permanently. Babies outgrow shunts and they also have a risk of clogging or malfunctioning and this means that he will have to have revisions throughout his life. Again, this is something new that I feel I need time to digest before I meet him.

I was worried about his head being too large to deliver and needing a cesarean, but that is no longer a major concern of mine. The doctor I saw this week said that he feels I will probably be able to deliver him vaginally since my daughter was such a large baby. He believes my pelvis can accommodate a head that is a little large in size, but if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. I guess I'm okay with that.

According to this doctor, the one who performed my internal exam, there are no "tell-tale" signs that I will be going into labor very soon. Like I said, now that I am in no hurry, that is just fine with me. He did say that things can change overnight so there are no guarantees, but obviously it is good to hear that I don't appear to be on the doorstep of delivery.

I'll be going again for another appointment this Tuesday. I am eager to hear what they will have to say about labor signs when I go in. It is bound to happen sooner or later, but I am just hoping for later than sooner.


  1. I'm hoping you have as much time now with Caleb as you can too Heather. I too understand about not holding/bonding with your baby. Not just Sawyer, but Sadie too. I didn't even get to hold her until she was 5 days old. It caused me a lot of heartache, but you are strong and Caleb is going to need you. Hey, make sure you start pumping right away too. Do you need a pump? I have an extra if you do. I dont know what else to do besides pray for all of you.

    I feel so awful - did you think of starting a Caringbridge page for Caleb? I did one for Sawyer and it was a great way to reach everyone. Much love to all of you - Michelle (oh and thank you so much for all the blog comments Heather)

  2. This is the first time I've seen in your blog or believe me, I'd have tried to contact you sooner. If it is any help at this point to connect w/ moms going thru something similar, please know you are welcome to post at It turns out that I am in your diocese (western suburbs). I see that you have many very good friends who are doing an excellent job of supporting you in a really sensitive way (it isn'a always like this). Please know I will keep you and Caleb in my prayers these next few weeks especially. Sincerely, Monica (I have signed up to follow your blog).

  3. Heather, has your parish "been there" for you through this? I would love to talk to you or email with you a bit in this time waiting for Caleb's arrival, I don't know how to reach you except thru here in the comment box, but you can reach me thru: