Wow. What a week. I was expecting this post to talk about how thrilled I am to be halfway through this pregnancy but unfortunately that's not the focus. I am thrilled, don't get me wrong, but we now have a more serious issue on our hands. You may recall me mentioning in last week's post that we were waiting to hear back from my doctor's office regarding my blood work that was taken at my last appointment. Well, we heard back but we didn't hear the best news. It looks like this pregnancy is going to be quite the wild ride the rest of the way.
After consulting with high-risk specialists, it has been confirmed that little Austin has Rh Disease. For those of you that are unfamiliar with this, I will do my best to explain what it is. During my pregnancy with Eli, we discovered the I have Rh negative blood. Because Eli likely had Rh positive blood from Logan (and he did), it would have been a danger to Eli if our blood mixed. To prevent anything from happening to him, I received a RhoGam shot at 28 weeks, which would protect him in the event our blood mixed. Mom's and baby's blood has the best chance of mixing toward the end of pregnancy which is why they give the shot later on. I also received a RhoGam shot after delivery to protect the baby during my next pregnancy. **RhoGam prevents your body from creating antibodies that would attack a baby with positive blood.**
While having negative blood isn't super common, a decent amount of women do have it so they receive the RhoGam shot and all is typically well. I expected that to be the case with me. However, I fall into the "small/rare" group of women (of course) who become what is called sensitized. Becoming sensitized means that despite receiving the RhoGam shot, my body still developed antibodies that will fight positive blood. We may never know exactly how I became sensitized but the doctors have a fairly good idea. I received blood work prior to starting IVF that came back clean but when I had my first blood draw of this pregnancy it came back showing the antibodies. The doctors expect that mine and Austin's blood mixed early on in this pregnancy (which they say is very rare) and as soon as my body detected his positive blood I developed antibodies and thus became sensitized.
So, what does this mean for Austin and this pregnancy? That's a great question. My body will now start to target and attack Austin's red blood cells which can make him anemic. It can also severely affect his bilirubin levels. I will now be monitored by high risk doctors at IMC who will do an MCA scan at least every two weeks to check the blood flow to Austin's brain. If the blood starts pumping faster, it tells us that he is becoming anemic because he's working harder to move blood throughout his body. Fortunately this is all seen through a traditional U/S. Right now, Austin's levels look great and he is still thriving and doing really well. As they continue to monitor him, they will make sure his blood levels stay in a safe range. If they drop too far, they will have to do an in-utero blood transfusion. It's wonderful they are able to do this but it definitely comes with risks of its own so we are hoping to avoid it. The doctors have said that some babies go the entire pregnancy without needing a transfusion while others need several. Fingers crossed he won't need one. If we can make it the entire pregnancy without needing a transfusion, I will likely be induced a few weeks early because the end of the pregnancy is even riskier for the baby. We anticipate he'll need to spend some time in the NICU but hopefully for nothing major. He could require a transfusion(s) after he's born and he may need to be under the lights for a while but he could also come out of this just fine. Only time will tell!
The last bit of disappointing news with all of this is that it only gets progressively worse with each pregnancy. Once you become sensitized, you are sensitized forever and there's nothing they can do to help it. The doctors tell us that this pregnancy will likely be the easiest/lowest risk and each subsequent pregnancy will get worse because I will develop more and more antibodies. For now we are going to focus on little Austin and not even think that far down the road.
If I just confused you as you read, below is a simple but helpful diagram that explains Rh Disease.
It has definitely been an emotionally/mentally exhausting week as we've tried to wrap our minds around everything. While it is discouraging to have this on our shoulders, we have absolutely witnessed many miracles on our behalf already. I want to share some of them so we don't forget about them later on.
-Some women become sensitized after their initial blood work so it's not caught during their pregnancy and then serious things can happen so we are very grateful this was detected early on.
-My placenta is on the front side of my uterus rather than the back so in the event Austin needs a transfusion, they won't have to go through my entire uterus to get to the cord, they will be able to access it right after they enter my stomach.
-IMC handles cases like mine more than most hospitals in the country because of the number of babies that are born here and we only live 10 minutes away. The specialists we are being followed by are very accomplished in all of this.
-Odds say I should have miscarried as soon as our blood mixed early on but we have been blessed with a healthy baby that continues to thrive and do so well.
-I was initially quite discouraged about having to deliver at IMC rather than Riverton because I may have to see a new OB but when I was talking to my pediatrician's nurse about everything that's going on she told me that because we're delivering at IMC, my pediatrician will come over to the hospital and take care of Austin as soon as he's born. This was a huge relief to us!
Logan and I have great faith that this pregnancy and little Austin's health is in Heavenly Father's hands and that brings us a ton of peace. Our goal is to keep this little boy cooking until he's full term so fingers crossed he stays well enough to make that happen!
Weight: 132.0 (This week: -.4 | Total: +11.2)
20 weeks down, 20 (hopefully!) to go!