Instead of focusing on my due date and all the hurdles that we must overcome before then, I've decided (at the advice of a very wise friend) to create small goals and milestones to help get me through - and to celebrate each piece of good news we receive. My first milestones were making it to twelve weeks (thus, crossing over to the second trimester where the chance of miscarriage reduces significantly) and staying out of the emergency room while my OB was on Christmas vacation. CHECK!
Next was our nuchal translucency screening at fourteen weeks. The nuchal scan measures the translucent space in the tissue at the back of a developing baby's neck. Babies with abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, tend to have more fluid in this area during the first trimester. Both of our babies had nuchal folds within normal limits. However, the doctor wasn't able to see a nasal bone on Baby A. Absence of a nasal bone is one of the soft markers for Down syndrome. Since Baby A didn't have any additional soft markers, the doctor tried to reassure me that not visualizing Baby A's nasal bone was most likely due to the position in the uterus which made it hard to see. All the same, this finding made it hard for me to remain (relatively) sane while awaiting the results of our noninvasive genetic and AFP (alpha- fetoprotein) screening tests.
I won't tell you that I was calm - or didn't have any sleepless nights - or didn't cry a little - or didn't bite my nails down to the quick while waiting for the genetic and AFP test results, but I tried really hard to allow myself to focus uniquely on these hurdles and not become too overwhelmed by the many more ahead of us. This was especially challenging because of my history with a positive AFP test (with my first child's diagnosis of Spina Bifida) and genetic problems (with my second child's diagnosis of Trisomy 9). My husband had to walk me off the ledge more than once during the ten days we had to wait for the test results. My doctor was a saint, calling us on a Saturday evening to give us good news as soon as he received our results.
My next milestone will be our twenty-week anomaly scan. The purpose of this scan is to check that the babies are developing normally (and confirm gender). Of course, I'm super nervous about it. While the genetic screen came back negative, it only tests for some of the most common types of issues like Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) and Trisomy 18 (Edwards's syndrome). There are still things that could show-up as the babies continue to get bigger and can be seen better on ultrasound.
But for now, I'm celebrating the good news we've gotten so far - and reveling in the flutters I've started to feel! It's the most incredible, supernatural thing to me to feel these little beings that I am nurturing moving inside of me. And the silver lining of my bed rest sentence and being high-risk is that I am followed very closely and get to see my babies weekly (sometimes twice a week) on ultrasound. My heart just bursts when I see them wiggling around on the screen. It gives me so much fulfillment watching them get bigger and bigger and knowing that I have a part in helping them to grow. Each day that I have with them is a miracle. I'm going to treasure every moment - and keep my eye on the next milestone.