Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Storm Begins (Kevin's Story, Part 4)

It was a week before the scheduled anatomy scan and I was having second thoughts about going alone. I talked to Scott about it and we decided to get a babysitter so he could go with me after all.  It wouldn't feel right not to have him there.

We initially hadn't wanted to find out the gender but I was so convinced I was having a boy that I reconsidered.  Our new plan was to learn the gender at the upcoming 3d ultrasound.   Both of the older boys would be there and I knew it would mean a lot to them to find out with us.  We had a feeling this would be our last pregnancy and wanted to let the boys be as involved as possible.  We decided we would let the boys make a gender announcement video to share with family and friends back home.  We already had names picked out for a boy or girl but planned to keep that a secret until the baby was born.

I woke up on the morning of the 17th with mixed emotions once again.  I felt a little off all morning but chalked it up to sadness over the miscarriage and the fact that it was the 17th.  Scott and I arrived at the appointment and I was taken back to the same room where I had learned that our last baby had no heartbeat.  I tried my hardest to block that out and focus on why we were there. Scott and I decided we couldn't wait to find out the gender after all and told them to go ahead and tell us. We would still wait to let the boys find out at our next scan.

The tech began the scan and quickly found a heartbeat.  She asked if we wanted to know the gender and we said yes.  She scanned over and announced that we were in fact having a boy.  I had been right all along!  I remember looking over at Scott and saying, "I told you so!"  She began taking measurements.  She was very quiet as Scott and I chatted about how crazy our house was going to be with another boy. The tech went over the abdominal/chest area a couple of times.  She told us that the baby was being very still and she needed him to switch positions so she could see to get measurements.   She left the room for a few minutes and I paced back and forth and pushed on my belly hoping to get him to turn for her.  I had commented to Scott earlier that morning about how still and calm the baby was being so neither one of us was surprised that he wasn't cooperating.

A few moments later a different tech came in and said he would be continuing the scan.  I lay back down on the table and watched him redo measurements that I had sworn the last tech had already done.  I was beginning to wonder what was going on when a doctor walked in and introduced himself to Scott and I.  I will never forget the looks we gave each other at that moment. There are no words to describe the fear we had in our hearts.  Never in any of my other pregnancies had a doctor come in mid ultrasound unannounced.  This could only mean bad news.

He told us that our baby had a birth defect called congenital diaphragmatic hernia, or CDH.  For whatever reason his diaphragm hadn't closed properly.  His stomach was protruding up into his chest cavity and pressing into his lungs.  This would prevent his lungs from developing as they should.   He was unable to tell us the true severity but we knew at minimum he would need corrective surgery after birth.  We were referred for a more in depth ultrasound at a larger hospital for the following day.  The entire time the doctor was talking I was sobbing uncontrollably.  This couldn't be happening to us.   This was the miracle baby who had been given to us against all odds.  We never thought we could ever have another baby on our own and yet here we were.  This couldn't be real.

We walked out of the hospital that day with our heads spinning.  There was something wrong with our baby.  We had no idea how we were going to go home and take care of our other children like everything was normal.   Our world had just come crashing down around us.

Neither Scott or I had heard of CDH before.  The first thing we did when we got home was get online and do as much research as we could.  We found the CHOP website (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia) and read everything we could about the condition.  Depending on the severity of his birth defect our baby could have a survival rate as low as 50%  If it was a severe enough case he would need ECMO (heart and lung bypass) until he was strong enough to possibly withstand the corrective surgery.  He could spend weeks or months in NICU.  This was real.  Our baby might not survive this.  We were a military family hundreds of miles from family.  We had no idea how we were going to get through this and we had no idea how we were going to care for our other children while we did.  We felt completely alone, completely lost, and didn't know where to turn.  All we could do now was wait for our appointment the following day and hope for the best news possible.  Whatever it was we wouldn't tell the kids until after Christmas.  We wanted to give them the best holiday we could before breaking the news.

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