Wednesday, January 8, 2014

kidneys and questions

At our twenty-week ultrasound, we found out our baby's kidneys were enlarged. After a thorough conversation with our doctor, I still didn't know what that meant, so I did what any anxious mom-to-be would do: turned to Google. It was the worst decision I've made in a long time. One night, I stayed up until 1am reading stories about Trisomy 18 and stillbirths, sobbing for the women who poured their hearts out over the Internet, convinced my baby wasn't going to make it. His enlarged kidneys were certainly part of a bigger problem. Screw my doctor—Google never lies!

Jeff thought I was crazy, but he followed my orders and called the doctor to ask her about Trisomy 18 and other anomalies. I wouldn't call her myself, too afraid of her reply. The doctor reassured Jeff that the baby looked normal and healthy and advised us, lightheartedly, not to use Google like that again. (Doctors probably hate Google.) 

At twenty-four weeks, the baby's kidneys were still dilated, so we scheduled an appointment with a perinatal specialist for a more in-depth ultrasound. At thirty-four weeks, that in-depth ultrasound confirmed one kidney was still enlarged while the other had returned to normal size. I still didn't know what that meant. The doctor told me it was no big deal, not to worry about it too much, it's just something that will need to be monitored. But if it wasn't a big deal, why were we at a specialist? Why couldn't we just forget about it and move on? Pretend that kidney was perfect?

That begged the question, why wasn't that kidney perfect? Was it something I did? Last pregnancy, I wouldn't go near soft cheese let alone eat it. I drank only decaf coffee. When I used hairspray, I held my breath until I was done styling my hair and then ran to the nearest open window before inhaling. I went to the gym. I avoided nail salons. I ate a lot of carrot sticks and broccoli. This time around, I breathe while using hairspray. I drink one small latte a day. When I really want it, I eat soft cheese without asking the waiter if it's been pasteurized. I don’t have time for the gym, so I count walking up and down the stairs at home as exercise. Right now, I'm eating my second piece of chocolate cake instead of carrot sticks. 

Could any of that have led to an enlarged kidney?

Our sweet little boy will need an ultrasound before he's three months old to check on his kidney. There's a twenty percent chance it won't shrink on its own, which means he could be more at risk for urinary tract infections and bladder problems. I'm still not really sure what that means for the long term, but Jeff and I are following doctors' orders not to worry. (Turns out it's really not that big of a deal.) We're just excited to meet him, hold him and love him.

When we found out Evie's droopy eyelid wouldn't open on its own and she'd eventually need surgery, my heart ached worse than I can ever remember. I called my dad crying. He told me, that's life—that droopy lid is part of what makes her Evelyn. He told me in the grand scheme of things, that little eyelid problem was trivial. Our baby had ten fingers and ten toes and air in her lungs. We were so, so very lucky. I'm treasuring his wise words now as we get ready to welcome our baby boy—who has a strong heartbeat and is growing healthily—into the world. Five more weeks!

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  1. Your description of your approach to your second pregnancy - chocolate cake and hairspray and all - is so, so, so much exactly what mine was like. I was the poster child for perfect pregnancy the first time around, and then suddenly being pregnant with a toddler just doesn't give you the same luxury of dwelling and obsessing and reveling in the magic and glory of bump worship. As I used to say to my youngest daughter all the time in utero, "Sorry, second baby." But I know - and you know - that enlarged kidney has nothing to do with it. Trust that doctor of yours and, when your son is born, hold him tight and know that no matter what, he's yours. Best wishes in these last five weeks!

  2. I would probably feel exactly the way you do!! but if the doc says not to worry then I'm thinking that's a good thing. You have a short way to go and if that's the only thing he's great! He's going to be a beautiful healthy baby!!! Just like Evie! :)

  3. Wishing you comfort and love the next 5 weeks until you get to meet your little boy. He will be perfect, I know it!

  4. I'm sure it's so scary to get any news that your baby isn't completely perfect, and that there might be something to contend with when they're born. But your dad is so right and if the kidney doesn't fix itself, it will be another piece of your baby boy that makes him so uniquely himself. Enjoy your last 5 weeks!

  5. Great response from you dad. Your baby boy will bring you and your family so much joy. I'm glad you're focusing on that and following doctor's orders not to worry. Four weeks will be here before you know it! xoxo

  6. Prayers!.. it's so good of you to share and know your feelings. The pictures are darling and make life seem so fun! Darling as ever that little doll of yours:)