Of course the second trimester definitely didn’t mean turning a corner for this girl but it did get slightly better. I started to workout again and I wasn’t waking up every morning with the feeling like I wanted to die. No, that feeling happened after I got out of bed rather than happening as soon as I opened my eyes. Some mornings were better than others and as always, working out helped the nausea slightly. I had about 3 weeks between finishing summer school and beginning my fall semester too which was really nice. I took that time to go to KC to visit my in-laws and the Ozarks with my family. That was a HARD trip but I also discovered that I could drink coffee again! Let’s not kid ourselves, it wasn’t great but because I was experiencing such horrible headaches it definitely helped to force a cup or two down in the mornings. Nausea was still on again off again throughout the day and I was single parenting while on our trip so it was super tough on me to keep two kids entertained all day and then to put two kids down to bed every night for 10 days straight. Most nights I just kept Em awake and would have him go to bed with me since I was still going to bed early. We got through that trip though, just barely. When I got back I started Anatomy and Physiology part 2 and also had my 18 week anatomy scan to look forward to. We had decided not to find out the gender of this baby but I was still excited to see the baby anyways. I was also feeling strong kicks by this point so that was super reassuring as well.
The Anatomy Scan
The anatomy scan was on August 31, 2015, my husband’s birthday of all days. I went in by myself SO excited. This was a new to me office through Kaiser so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this scan. I chatted away with the ultrasound tech for almost an hour. I didn’t think twice that anything was wrong but of course hindsight amiright? The tech got almost all the parts that she needed except for one, the face. My tech for my last two pregnancies was in a different office and she explained everything to me, even the bad stuff. Kaiser has a different way of doing things and the techs aren’t allowed to say anything to you or reassure you that your child is ok. You have to wait for the doc. to review the ultrasound images and then they call you to discuss everything afterwards. Anyways, the tech had me go to the bathroom to empty my bladder and had me lay in every direction imaginable to get the baby to move out of my cervix. The baby was super low and the tech just could not get a great photo of the baby’s face. She worked on me for a good 30 minutes, even had me upside down on the table at one point. I do remember her circling the baby’s lips for some odd reason but again, at the time I didn’t think that that was an indication that something was wrong. I left with my pictures of the baby, calm and happy.
After my ultrasound I went home to meet up with Chad. Since it was his birthday my parents watched the kids and we went out to a super nice restaurant for dinner. We chatted about the ultrasound and dreamed about our life with 3 kids.
The next afternoon, around 4pm, I got a call. This call went to voicemail because I never have my phone on me when I’m at home (or let’s be honest, I was probably passed out cold on the couch). When I listened to the voicemail it was from the genetic office asking me to please call them to talk about the ultrasound. I was happy it wasn’t the doc. because why would a genetic counselor call me if something was wrong with my baby? I figured it was Kaiser protocol to have the genetic counselor deal with all calls about ultrasounds. So I called her back. She started off with the usual…”everything looks great! The baby’s brain, heart, lungs-it all looks terrific! But…” The ONLY think I could think was that there was something wrong with me again like the placenta previa but I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what else could go wrong with the mom if nothing was wrong with the baby. I just remember thinking to myself, “cut to the chase lady, you are kind of driving me up the all!!” Well eventually she did cut to the chase and it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. “Lindsey, don’t be alarmed but the doctor thinks this baby might have a cleft lip.” My heart sank. I wish I could put into words how I felt at that moment but there are no words to fill the void when someone tells you there may be something wrong with your baby. She went on to say, “now, don’t lose sleep over this. We don’t have great images of the face so if you would like, we can offer to have you come in for a level II ultrasound to examine this further.” I didn’t have to be offered the level II ultrasound. I was going to request one anyways so of course I immediately said yes and booked the first available. The genetic counselor was again very nonchalant about the whole thing and brushed it off like it was probably a fluke which actually gave me false hope. I almost wish she would have proceeded to say something like “if this is a cleft, it’s easy to fix” or something a little more reassuring than “It’s probably nothing”. Like I said, it was a Tuesday afternoon and the first available appointment at the maternal fetal high risk office wasn’t until Thursday afternoon aka a lifetime away. I took it and then proceeded to go inside, because I was in the garage taking the call, where Chad was working.
I sat down in the chair across from him and said, “well they think this baby has a cleft lip”. I burst into tears and started to panic. Of course my non judgmental, caring, thoughtful, amazing husband only responded with, “well that’s fixable, that’s not a big deal at all! There could have been so much worse we could have found out. Linds, this is a non issue.” Of course he would say that. Why? Because he’s amazing and always knows just what to say. And then he went on to say that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions and that we just need to wait until we get the level II ultrasound to process anything. I knew he was right and that helped a ton to hear all that but I couldn’t help but think that if this baby had a cleft how devastated I would be. I went from totally freaking out to calm to freaking out again all in a matter of hours. There were all sorts of emotions that were flying through my head. We called our families and told them what was going on. After I hung up with my mom I had completely convinced myself that the baby didn’t have a cleft and that the doc. didn’t know what she was looking at and that they were just being overly cautious since they didn’t get a clear shot of the baby’s face. I believed this until Thursday morning when I finally woke up and said to myself that they are doctors and they know what a cleft looks like and they definitely would not have told me this had they not seen something. By Thursday morning I knew my baby had a cleft. I didn’t need another ultrasound to convince myself otherwise. Chad and I use humor to lighten up situations so we were already joking about it by Thursday morning.
I had prepared myself for the final word on the cleft as well I knew how to. One of the first things I stumbled upon while reading about clefts was a blog, Step by Step Cleft. I read the entire thing late Tuesday night after receiving our news and cried and cried. This family was so much like ours and the baby was CUTE!!! I initially wasn’t sure how a cleft baby could be cute but seeing a baby who was actually adorable both with his cleft and after his repair was so reassuring to me. This blog helped me so much. I also looked at all.the.pictures of cleft babies online the next two days. All I could focus on was the end result and how I couldn’t wait to have this baby “fixed” if it did indeed have a cleft. But then I would bring myself down a notch and tell myself that it was impossible for my baby to have a cleft. The next day I researched how this could have happened. I think this was one of the things that I did to convince myself that this baby actually did have a cleft. One of the ways clefts happens is through folic acid deficiencies. I have written about my MTHFR genetic mutation on here before so this wasn’t a surprise to me. I’m ok with the fact that I probably caused this. I was just lucky that my other two kids didn’t end up having defects. I’m convinced that somehow my body didn’t absorb enough folic acid, even though I was taking 5mg of the stuff 3 months prior to getting pregnant and then during the entire pregnancy. The other preventative stuff just didn’t make sense. I am not a smoker, I didn’t drink alcohol at any point in my pregnancy, I’m not overweight, I’m not of a different race other than Caucasian, I don’t work around chemicals or in a chemical plant all day etc, etc. So to me, this is the only thing that even makes any type of sense.
It took forever to get to Thursday. I tried keeping myself busy with the other kids and my class. My class started to suffer big time as every time I sat down to even so much as read over my notes, I got distracted with all things related to clefts. My mind became consumed with cleft everything and I hadn’t even been given the full diagnosis that my baby even had a cleft. I feel like I became a cleft expert in a matter of 36 hours. This is how I prepare myself though. I needed as much information going into this appointment as possible to make sure I was armed. For me, information is power and I needed to feel semi in control and powerful in this appointment. Little did I know that nothing I could have done would have prepared me for what they were about to tell me at this next appointment.