Part 2: The First Ultrasound

Our family was on the way home from a fun evening with friends at the ‘big wooden slide’ at Mount Tabor Park in Rocky Ridge, MD, when Jeff and I casually wondered aloud if the kids would like to skip school the next morning and go along instead to an ultrasound to see their new sibling.  Several of the children had been wondering for weeks when we might have another baby, and to say they were ecstatic at this news would be an understatement.  The screams in the car gave way to endless questions and happy chatter for the remainder of the trip home.

The next morning, August 17, Jeff was able to take a few hours off work to go along to the ultrasound.  There was much excitement as we saw our baby’s heartbeat and watched our little one kicking and squirming in black-and-white on the screen.

The ultrasound tech was very quiet; one of the least communicative we’ve ever had, so I quietly explained to the kids some of what we were seeing as she scanned.  There was a large dark spot in the baby’s abdomen, and I almost said, “There’s the baby’s stomach!” but I knew that I really wasn’t sure about that part, so I kept quiet.

Here’s a picture from that scan, without the ‘large dark spot:’                                         ultrasosund

Ultrasound over, Jeff took the kids to the waiting room, and the tech said she would get the perinatologist to come in and review the results with me.  We were at maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) for this scan, because I was 14 weeks; just slightly past the first trimester.  A former neighbor’s unexpected funeral had pushed our original ultrasound date from 12 weeks to 14, and the practice had told us that it was simply a matter of common procedure for all ultrasounds past 13 weeks to be scheduled at MFM.  The tech had asked me twice during the scan if I had had a previous scan and/or why they had sent me to MFM.  I reiterated that, no, we had not had any other scan, and that we were simply there because we were already in the second trimester.  When she told me the doctor would review my scan, I asked if this was routine procedure at MFM.  She then told me she had seen a few areas of concern and wanted him to take a look.  Red flags were now waving, and my mind was racing.  What were the concerns?  The possibilities were endless.  More red flags started flying when the tech brought Jeff back to the room, saying that the doctor wanted him to be there too.  It seemed like an eternity until the Dr. finished reviewing the U/S in his office and stepped through the door to talk to us.

Part 1: Baby Number Six!

Welcome to Joel’s Journey, where I will chronicle the life of the newest member of our family: Joel Daniel.  We are deeply grateful to God for entrusting us with his life and profoundly grateful for the amazing grace and tender mercies He has shown as we’ve unwittingly entered the world of Trisomy 13.  We’ve decided it will be most efficient and least emotionally taxing to put updates at a place where everyone who wants them can find them.  Those who desire details can come here, and we won’t have to repeat ourselves so often!  Those who don’t want specifics won’t have them in their newsfeeds on Facebook.  So, where else to start but at the beginning?

June 14, 2015 – a beautiful Sunday afternoon – found Jeff taking three kids to hike Devil’s Den and the surrounding areas of the Gettysburg battle fields while I stayed home with a napping toddler and not-feeling-well older kid.  I was looking forward to a peaceful, quiet afternoon and eager to confirm what I suspected – that baby number six was on the way!  As two pink lines quickly appeared on the pregnancy test, I was filled with overwhelming joy.  I had expected to feel overwhelming apprehension at the thought of adding more work and craziness to our already-crazy-busy household, but those fears all melted away and were replaced with complete excitement, hope, and trust in God’s plan for our family.  It was a most unique and sacred moment, unlike any I’ve experienced.

Jeff shared my happiness when he got home… me showing him a picture of the pregnancy test on my phone as we sat on the couch with kids bouncing all around us, and him giving me the upraised eyebrows that all parents know can speak volumes without a word.  It was completely unceremonious, yet stealthy, as even our keen-eared big kids didn’t have a clue that life-altering news being communicated right in front of them!

Then, with little fanfare, we settled in to wait out the first trimester, as we have done seven times before, knowing from the experience of having had two end-of-the-first-trimester miscarriages that a positive pregnancy test doesn’t guarantee we’ll be bringing a baby home from the hospital in nine months.  Our February 14 due date was still a long 8 months away, after all!

And a busy trimester it was.  A week later, Lydia turned two.  The next day, Jeff and a crew of guys started tearing the roof and attic off our rancher, followed by nine incredibly intense dawn-to-dark days of turning it into a Cape Cod.  People, noise, and dirt everywhere, every day.  Blueberry picking with cousins.  Sarah turning seven.  Then, Kids’ Camp for all of us but Jeff.  A few weeks later, VBS at two churches.  We also got a puppy who lived for only four days before succumbing to canine parvovirus.  Then, getting ready for a new school year, with trips to the pool and all manner of summer fun still on-going.

It was finally time to get established in a new OB-GYN practice so I could attempt a VBAC delivery for this baby at York Hospital.  I wasn’t eager for the switch to different doctors, and the new practice felt impersonal; the new protocols wearisome.  For the sixth time around, I was wishing to have a very routine and familiar experience, not something so new and different.  Little did I know then how new and different it was all going to be…