Pregnant and Blindsided

The first five months of my pregnancy, I felt untouchable. I loved being pregnant, and I was overwhelmingly happy. I had begged my husband every day for seven years to have another child, and he had finally relented. I was pregnant and happy and felt on top of the world. It wasn’t until a routine ultrasound at 21 weeks that I was blindsided by the news: there was something wrong with my baby’s brain. I had gone alone to that ultrasound appointment. I didn’t want my husband to fight the Houston traffic, pay for parking, and have to take off from work. So I left that morning reassuring him that I would bring him home some pictures, thinking it would be an uneventful appointment.

As a labor and delivery nurse, I know there are many things that can go wrong in the prenatal period and during delivery. I just never thought anything would happen to me or my baby. After all, people have babies all the time! As I sat there in the ultrasound room that day, I tried not to cry hysterically. I wanted the doctor to continue to scan me, hoping he would say he had made a mistake. But as he patted my arm and told me he was so sorry, I couldn’t help it, I cried uncontrollably. I left that appointment with so many unanswered questions and so uncertain of what the next day would bring.

After a fetal MRI, I was told that my baby had a brain bleed in his cerebellum. I was told that it was very uncommon to see brain bleeds in this area of the brain during the prenatal period, and that there were only a few documented cases. No one could give me any answers as to why it had happened, what the effects would be, or what I should expect. The other babies from the three documented cases had not survived, they had all had died from subsequent issues related to their bleeds. I wanted to tell every single person I came into contact with what had happened. I wanted everyone to know how unfair I thought it was. My husband and I talked about what we should do, who would look after the baby if something happened to us, and if it was fair to our seven-year old daughter to ask her later in her life to look after her brother if he had a severe disability. I cried all the time, my husband said even in my sleep.

I wanted to share my story because I walk around the hospital and I’m constantly surrounded by pregnant women. Even though I’m an obstetrical nurse, and I work next to amazing physicians who do extraordinary things, it had never really occurred to me that some of the women I see in the cafeteria, or the elevator, or walking the hallways may have also had to cope with unexpected news. I now know that many of these women may portray a brave face, and maybe they have accepted or learned to cope with any news they were given. But I know that any unexpected news is hard to handle, especially when you get pregnant and assume that you will have an uneventful pregnancy.

In the last three months, my baby’s prognosis has improved. He is growing and hasn’t developed any additional complications related to his bleed. His bleed is resolving, and although he has “lost” brain tissue in the area of his brain bleed, all of my physicians are very optimistic. The hardest part for our family has been the uncertainty. Because there isn’t much data to go on, we have no idea what to expect. He could present as a completely healthy child, and we’ll all wonder what all the fuss was about (wouldn’t that be great?!?) or he could have motor or cognitive delays. The stem of all of our worry has simply been the uncertainty, the no guarantees, and the fear of the unknown.

I have no idea what will happen when I deliver, if my baby will have problems, or if this will happen again to him later in his life. But I know that I love him and that I wished for him and that I waited for him for so long. And I find comfort knowing that I’m going to deliver at the greatest hospital, surrounded by the best physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers. So for anyone out there that is facing uncertainty, or the unexpected, know that you are not alone. I may be standing next to you the elevator or walking by you in the hallways. And if I have learned anything through this process, it is this: your healthcare providers will take amazing care of you and your baby. You will have good days, and you will have bad days, and the only wish I have for you is that your good days outweigh your bad.

 

Until my next delivery ❤


27 thoughts on “Pregnant and Blindsided

  • Pingback: After Being Blindsided, One Year Later « Adventures of a Labor Nurse

  • July 6, 2014 at 11:03 pm
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    This sounds so much like my own story with my son.
    I’m a L&D nurse, routine 20 weeks ultrasound showed something wrong with the brain, told my husband to stay home with our older daughter and I’d be fine by myself. Had an ultrasound that lasted an hour, and then had a doctor come and pat my arm and say how sorry he was…
    Different diagnosis (spina bifida) but still blindsided. Especially as a L&D nurse when you see so many healthy babies born and healthy pregnancies continue. It was hard.
    My son is now 4 1/2 years old and wonderful.
    I’ve been following your blog for about a week and I have LOVED every post!

    Reply
    • July 6, 2014 at 11:27 pm
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      Thank you so much! As soon as I read your comment, I got teary. It doesn’t matter what the diagnosis is, it’s so traumatizing hearing that anything is wrong or out of the ordinary. I’m so glad that your son is healthy and wonderful!!!

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      • March 27, 2015 at 3:31 am
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        Ladies! I am HOME:) L&D nurse here too (Nurse Curse Anyone?!). My u/s kept showing polyhydramnios (del at 36 measuring 46 weeks) but we could never find a reason! He was born w an undiagnosed bowel obstruction, aspirated, pneumonia, waited a week in the NICU before doc found the Duodenal Web – no double bubble w web! He almost died the day that they finally found the obstruction. We transferred to UC Davis and had surgery, stayed a month… Then he kept acting like he had Cystic Fibrosis. !!! Do you know there are 2,000 types of CF?! anywho- he was JUST “diagnosed” w CF at age 5. He’s 7 now – only child (thanks for the hope, ladies!!!btw) and pretty healthy for a CFer. Praise God! But I am with you ladies, my son was born Jan 3. Everyone was like Happy New Year (in stores, etc) and my baby was in the NICU- I’m sure I gave a few dirty looks to people as I said- “what’s so happy about it?” Or some grumbly thing, lol. I can laugh and smile now, but it was indeed a hard road, right? I’ve learned NOT to say “awwww ” like their precious son is going to die at age 12 (people say the dumbest things!!!). Anyway, I had no idea that happiness could be almost offensive until my experience. Thanks for sharing this often overlooked point:) Sheila, California

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      • March 27, 2015 at 3:32 am
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        Dangit! That’s me below! my info fell off

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  • August 6, 2014 at 4:52 am
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    I am an L&D nurse in Florida. Your blogs are truly amazing and I Look forward to them. My heart goes out to you. Keep being strong!! ♡

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  • August 25, 2014 at 7:39 am
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    Should have listened to your husband.

    You sound incredibly selfish in continuing this pregnancy. Shouldn’t it be about the potential child, not you?

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    • August 25, 2014 at 11:50 am
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      What a hateful thing to say. And my husband never once told me to end my pregnancy. and p.s. my son is perfectly healthy with no problems. Shame on you for trying to make another mother feel bad about such s personal decision.

      Reply
      • October 21, 2014 at 7:06 pm
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        Wow really sad to hear comments like this, there are many mothers out there who have gone through similar situations and lost their babies, I being one. I never once doubted my decision to continue my pregnancy, even knowing the grave outcome. Thank you for sharing your story!

        Reply
    • October 21, 2014 at 7:42 pm
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      Laughinggirl…..
      You are a horrible, horrible person. Shame on you.

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    • September 1, 2015 at 2:29 am
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      The perfect reason that people say: If you can’t say something nice (or at least awful) keep your mouth shut… and choke on the nastiness we can feel in your venomous response.

      Reply
  • October 21, 2014 at 7:17 pm
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    Your story was just featured on yahoo and as I was reading it, it pulled at my heart strings and I immediately came to your blog to find a follow-up. So thankful that your son is healthy!

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  • October 21, 2014 at 7:32 pm
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    Laughinggirl…why are you on this site? If you do not have anything nice to say, then shut it! Have you experience this before? No, you obviously havent. Keep you comments to yourself. You have no idea what this woman went through.

    Reply
  • December 29, 2014 at 4:13 am
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    After the traumatizing ordeal, I am so happy that your son is healthy. Congratulations!! Don’t stop the good work.

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  • December 31, 2014 at 5:56 pm
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    I got this website from my friend who informed me about this website and at the moment this time I am browsing this site
    and reading very informative articles here.

    Reply
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  • May 24, 2015 at 4:20 am
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    A link to this post popped up in my FB feed today. I am so thankful it did!

    I could have written this 15 months ago. At 28 weeks we found out that our baby’s brain had failed to develop properly in some areas and he had a massive cyst that was causing hydrocephalus. No one could tell us why it happened or what delivery and beyond would be like for our sweet boy. He came 4 weeks early and had his first neurosurgery at 6 weeks and a second at 6 months. Aside from the surgeries and frequent surgeon visits/MRIs, he is a cognitively normal, happy, curious one year old who is only slightly delayed in motor skills. :)

    Reply
    • May 24, 2015 at 12:26 pm
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      Mine never had to have surgery. He seems fine… He still can’t talk at 20 months but he understands everything we tell him. .. When he wants to! ?

      Reply
  • September 1, 2015 at 1:17 am
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    I’m an L&D nurse too. I had a similar situation happen when we had our loss in 2013. I had my first appointment scheduled and I made it for right after my shift in worked the night before. I went in assuming everything was perfectly normal and there was no heartbeat. I can’t remember a time when I felt so alone and devastated. I’m praying for you and your pregnancy. My hope is that by talking more openly about pregnancy loss and unexpected outcomes and diagnoses we won’t have to feel so alone.

    Reply
    • September 1, 2015 at 2:13 am
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      He’s two now :) It was the worst time in my life. He is such a blessing…happy and hitting all of his milestones, other than talking, which I believe will happen any day now. Thank you for your post <3

      Reply

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