A very lazy day. Today your father is very low and very distant. I don’t know if this is due to the events of yesterday or if he is upset with me. He has disappeared into his bubble. This is the world he hides in when things are too much, when the world is expecting too much from him and he is feeling over whelmed. It is a world I can not enter and I can’t imagine. He looks sad and unhappy and I can not or do not know how to help him.
I have to go back to the hospital at 1pm for more tests and I know it will be a quick appointment. I suggest your father does not come with me as it was only to repeat earlier tests, but he insists he will come. The appointment was quick, measuring, urine, blood, heartbeat, swiftly followed by emotion and tears with the midwife while your father sat in reception. And all because the midwife asked how I was. She was lovely, gave me a big hug and said ‘Your little boy will be just fine and your Big Boy will be a wonderful Daddy, you just wait and see.’
Again I tried to hide that I had been crying, but again I am sure he knew.
On the way home we decided we fancied Pizza for dinner and to be honest I really felt the need to pig out! So, Pizza, beer and football for your father, and Pizza, juice and Facebook for me. I posted to the world, I told the world I was going to be a Mummy, and that you would be here in May. The phone and computer went crazy with messages and calls from everyone sending us all their best wishes, love and congratulations.
Tomorrow I know is going to be a tough day, we have to go to Liverpool to see the consultants about your hernia, and I have no idea what to expect.
I had not thought about this appointment all week, it had come through far quicker than expected, so there had been little time to think about what it would involve. Your father followed me in his car as he had no idea where we are going and he had said he would head home after the appointment. It occurs to me that this was why he had been so quiet. He has been worrying about it, maybe. It is so difficult to tell as he does not communicate.
We booked in, the hospital seems very nice and very calm. There is a tv in the waiting room which is high up on the wall and is stuck on a loop, with a man repeating the something over and over again. It takes no time at all for this to get on my nerves and to be irritated by it. Your father is pacing the floor, looking at posters of breastfeeding and skin to skin contact. I got up and went to the tv to turn the volume down and the whole thing went blank. Feeling proud I turned to go back to the chairs, but before I managed to sit back down the Tv was back on again.
10:50 am and we were called into a room. Again, chairs, examination bed and scanner. the nurse explained the registrar would be with us soon to do the scan. That five minute wait fell like a lifetime, while your father sat with his head in his hands again. The registrar came in and introduced herself and a student who was there to observe. Top up, trousers down again. This time the gel was warm.
There you are again, your head, face, hands, heart…….Your heart is beating so so fast. I ask the registrar if it is ok, as she is concentrating hard on it for quite some time ‘Oh, Yes, yes his heart is beautiful…….Just look, this fascinates me, I love watching babies hearts beat, they are just wonderful. and this little mans is perfect.’ Then she moved on, lungs kidneys, liver, stomach, legs,arms,feet. ‘All good, now let’s have a look at your placenta…..Mmmm, Ok.’ The registrar turned to face me and put down the scanner.
She look serious, and she started to explain about your hernia, what it was and what is could mean, and what would have to happen when your are born. ‘I want the consultants to look at you too, to confirm what I have seen and to discuss the next steps with you.’
In came the consultant, and again went through the same process of looking at all your organs, stopping at your heart and saying ‘Beautiful, just beautiful.’ with the biggest smile. All the while your father has his head in his hands staring at the floor.
‘Ok, so here is what I think. Your little boy has an umbilical hernia, which most likely has some of his intestine inside it. This will need to be put back inside his tummy after he is born with a very small operation. I would also highly recommend you have an amniocentesis. This will test for possible chromosomal abnormalities, such as Downs and Edwards syndrome and some of the more life limiting abnormalities. I want to spend some time reviewing your scans and then we will sit down and explain all the options to you.’
I feel sick, I want to cry, I want to run away and hide. Your father and I are left alone and I have nothing to say that could make us feel any better. Your father paces the room like a caged tiger. I need space, this room is too small and far too dark. We go to the waiting room and I can see the toilets. Standing at the sink washing my hands, I feel faint, I sit on the edge of the toilet with my head on the sink and wait for it to pass. The swimming, whooshing, fuzziness gave way to bright clear sound and vision as I was violently sick. Some deep breaths, and trying to compose myself I stepped to the door and returned to the waiting room.
The next room we were shown to was horrible, mostly empty, just hard chairs and a small table. In came the consultant and another student. She had a book with her which she use to show us what your hernia would look like and then she discussed the possible chromosomal abnormalities. Your hernia would be a marker for these abnormalities and there are others too but they have not seen these during the scans. Still there is a 33% chance of Downs Syndrome or one of the other 4 abnormalities, some of which would mean you would not live for very long after you were born. She explained that she had consulted with her colleagues and the had all agreed that having the test would be recommended as this would help us prepare for having a baby with a disability.
I said I did not care, it would not alter how I feel about you. I would deal with whatever the result was when you were born, but I knew your father would need to know, he would need to have those questions answered.
I said we needed some time to talk. I asked when the would do the test and how long it would take to get the results. ‘We want to do it today if we can. the results are split into two parts. The first, gives the results for the top five chromosomal abnormalities and will be back in four to five days, then the second part would be back in two to three weeks, this will give the full genetic print and tell us if there is anything we might need to look out for as your little boy grows up.
We left the room, left the unit and walked to the main entrance. I needed a drink. I picked up a bottle of something orange for the fridge in the cafe and handed it to a large, spotty teenaged girl along with a £20. She just looked at me, ‘I cant accept this’ she said ‘What!, Why?’ ‘It’s an old note’ she smiled ‘Rubbish, That note came out of a cash machine not two hours ago! ‘I’ll have to speak to my supervisor’ with that she disappeared and came back within a minute and said ‘Nope, Cant take it.’ The air went blue around me and I snatched the note back as your father handed the girl a pound in change. We walked in silence back to the car.
Talking, shouting, crying and trying so hard to understand each other. I get it, I understand. It is hard enough for a man who has never ever wanted children to get his head around the fact he is going to be a father, let alone being a father to a little boy with a disability like Downs syndrome. I understand more than most the possibilities, but also see the positives and joy our little boy will bring to our lives no matter what the result. And then I add in the possible risks of having the test when over six months into a pregnancy. Having the test now could be very harmful to you. Simply put, it could kill you. I do not want to have the test.
I was blunt, I was truthful. I think we both were in all that was said. We will have the test.
We returned to the fetal medicine unit and told them we would have the test. We waited. Your father paced the floor again, talking to himself. I had documents to read and sign, these explained the risks of the test at this late stage. It could induce labour within two weeks and it would possibly be a still birth. I signed the documents.
Another room. A low lit, big room with examination table, scanner, chairs and lots of cupboards. In came two nurses, the registrar, the students, and the consultant. Your father grabbed my hand as we watched them prepare to do the test. He squeezed my hand tight.
They prepared the medical supplies, scrubbed up and then started. Throughout the procedure they scanned my tummy so they could see you, and the very very long needle, which went into my tummy just above my appendix scare. Your father squeezed my hand again and I started to cry, it hurt, it really, really hurt, and I was frightened.
You moved, they tried to move you back away from the needle as it came into the amniotic sack. I glanced at the screen, and there was another squeeze on my hand to make me look away. I took deep breaths, tried to my heart which I could feel in my throat. I was sure I was going to be sick again, tears filled my eyes as I took deeper breaths to stem the tears and the discomfort.
‘Very brave girl, almost done, well done.’ the consultant said. More pushing pulling tugging and sharp stinging pain and it was over.
The consultant talked again about the test, the results and what I had to do once I got home. I had her strictest orders not to do anything for at least 48 hours, and she ment nothing I had to have complete rest.
I asked if your hernia could have been caused by something I had done during the months before I knew I was pregnant. ‘No, absolutely not. Nothing you have done has caused this. There is nothing that has caused this or could have prevented this from happening. You must not think you have done anything wrong, ok.’ said the softly spoken consultant as she rubbed my foot and smiled.
We went back to the waiting room, and shortly after the nurse came with letters and information about the things I was and was not allowed to do when I got home. It was a long list. We left the hospital and your father followed my down the motorway, waving as he passed to get off at his junction and headed back to his house.
Once home I sat on the sofa with my coat on and dialed the phone. Your Nana answered, and having told her about our afternoon, she asked where your father was and then said ‘Right, you are coming to stay with us, get the cats ready and put some stuff in a bag and we will be down very soon. Your Nana and Papa made me very welcome, they helped me settle into the spare room. We had dinner and talked about the events of the day and how your father and I had been angry with each other.After dinner I called your father to say good night, he sounded low and tired but he was glad we were staying with Nana and Papa, he knew they would look after us.
I had a bath and laid on the bed, while you wriggled in my tummy. I wondered what you had made of this very strange day. Did you know about the test and what they did to us? I was so tired, it was not long before we where both fast asleep.
Today was a horrible day..