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Abnormal Ultrasounds

Hi Guys -
I'm new to VegWeb and have been lurking around a bit to read up on all the great advice and stories you've all already shared here in the Stroller Derby section. I'm 28 weeks pregnant with a little boy - our first child! I'm super excited. I've been waiting a long time to be a mom (I'm 37). Everything was going well until the last couple ultrasounds. I had hoped when I went into today they'd tell me everything was great, but that wasn't the case. Now I'm completely freaked out by what they're telling me. Maybe someone out there has had a similar experience. If nothing else it might make me feel better to share what I'm going through and get some good thoughts aimed my way, as I'm not wanting to tell my family until we find out for sure what's going on.

Here's the situation: They are not able to see the baby's stomach. That coupled with a slightly elevated level of amniotic fluid (still within range, but on the high side) has them thinking he might have a condition called esophageal atresia - basically the esophagus isn't reaching the stomach. Although it's not super common, it does happen and they say it's something they can usually fix through surgery the day he's born. There are a number of things that could be causing the conditions they're seeing, but they say that is most likely the esophageal atresia and if that's the case the level of amniotic fluid will increase to the point where I may go into labor early. I go in on Monday for a more comprehensive ultrasound. I really hope they say, "Oh, those silly regular ultrasound techs...here's his stomach right here - everything's just dandy," but I know that's unlikely. Doesn't hurt to hope, though!

I know I should be grateful that if something is wrong with him it is something that they can very likely fix. It just breaks my heart to think that he may have to go through surgery right away. That I may have to be induced and not have the natural childbirth I wanted. That I may not be able to nurse right after he's born like I've imagined (I wanted to try the breast crawl!). I've been reading so much about how wonderful it is to have these bonding experiences right after birth and the chance that I may have to trade those for having my baby go through a major surgery instead - argh! It's driving me insane.

It's a long shot, but...anyone else have a similar ultrasound and have everything turn out just fine??? Or have a baby that had esphageal atresia? Thanks for any advice or positive thoughts you can think in my direction!

what causes esophageal atresia to happen? do u know?

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I haven't had the experience you're going through, but  encourage you to look at it from a different angle. Your baby is healthy enough to survive, it's problem will be fixed, and you will only be away from it for a short time during the surgery, you'll have the rest of your life to spend together. I know from experience how difficult it can be to have problems during a pregnancy, I'm sending you my good thoughts and hope that all goes well.  :)>>>

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I didn't have this problem but did have another ultrasound abnormality.  Worst case scenario your baby's problem is treatable, and that is awesome.  The only advice I can give is to find the hospital/doctor/doula/etc that is most compatible with the "natural experience" that you want.  You may not get everything, but neonatal units are infamous for wrecking nursing relationships before the start if you're not really aggressive about it.  I don't say that to scare you, but to help you to plan ahead.  I don't think anyone gets exactly the birth experience they wanted and planned.  The important things are you and the baby.  Focus on that. 

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If you're 38 weeks pregnant you're already full term (apparently anything over 37 weeks isn't considered premature).  I'd suggest making a birth plan and discussing it with the doctors/nurses/etc.  You can try to stick to your plan as much as possible, although the health and safety of your baby is the highest priority so you might have to make some sacrifices.  Just remember, the most important thing in the end is a healthy baby and healthy mother.  It doesn't matter how the baby comes into the world as long as you're both healthy.  My delivery wasn't anything like what I had hoped (37 weeks, breech baby, emergency caesarean under general anesthetic after 22 hours of labor) but he's out and we're both fine.  Good luck!

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I know I should be grateful that if something is wrong with him it is something that they can very likely fix. It just breaks my heart to think that he may have to go through surgery right away. That I may have to be induced and not have the natural childbirth I wanted. That I may not be able to nurse right after he's born like I've imagined (I wanted to try the breast crawl!). I've been reading so much about how wonderful it is to have these bonding experiences right after birth and the chance that I may have to trade those for having my baby go through a major surgery instead - argh! It's driving me insane.

I have not had this happen to me but I wan to comment on this paragraph. I planned on having my baby (who will by 1 on Tuesday) at home. I wanted a natural birth with my wonderful midwife and husband there. I wanted her on my chest immediately after birth. It didn't work out that way (she was in the NICU for 3 days after birth and I didn't even hold her until the next morning).  I was really upset and depressed about it for a long time (and it still makes me a little sad even today). So much so that I think I missed out on some real joy those first few months. But today, she is doing great - happy, healthy. The year has passed so quickly and I can't imagine her being any better than she is now - natural homebirth or no. The nightmare of her birth seems like so long ago now. And BTW, she is still nursing like a champ even after that rough start.

Try not to worry about it until Monday and you get the more detailed ultrasound. Best of luck to you and your baby boy.

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Aw, I was hoping for a bit of encouragement and you guys delivered! I am going to just keep taking deep breaths until Monday and try to stay positive. If it turns out that the esophagus issue is what's going on I will be grateful that it is something treatable and not dwell too much on the disappointments and fears. My husband was adopted and has a very strong bond with his family and I wasn't breastfed at all and my mother and I are super-bonded. I know that all the things I envisioned aren't necessary for good bonding (obviously - moms love their kids regardless of how they come into the world - my head knows this), but are just little touches I wanted to experience. I won't let the possible loss of those things get me too down. Now that I've had some time to calm down a bit and think about things more rationally I feel a bit more optimistic. Still scared, but optimistic, too. Thanks for sharing your stories and offering words of encouragement. Your kindness is appreciated!
P.S. I thought I proofread before posting originally, but I missed that I hit 3 instead of 2! I am TWENTY-eight weeks along, not thirty-eight. I wish I were at 38!
P.S.S. From what I've read, they don't know what causes esophageal atresia, but it happens to about 1 in 10,000.

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Just let them know that you want to breastfeed and be adament about it.  From my experience the  hospitals want you to breastfeed as much as you want to, at least at the hospital I went to. 

But I can only imagine what you must be going through.  I had a picture perfect pregnancy but I was always on edge thinking that this or that could happen.  If something did wind up being wrong I don't think I could have coped, I was already alone and stressed enough as it was.  They say that God deosn't give you more then you can handle, and I believe it is true.  I hope you have a husband there to lean on and I hope he is going to be there with you Monday, sounds like you need his support more then anything. 

Everything will be alright,  it is okay.  Just remember, 90% of the time things turn out better then you thought they would.  It is when  you arn't expecting anything and things wind up blindsiding you when you least expect it is when it gets nasty, but something like this, it most likely won't be as bad as you think it will be, it just won't be as picture perfect as you hoped. 

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I actually did have an ultrasound where the tech found something that later turned out to be nothing...  First tech thought he found a CCAM on one of my twins lungs...spent the weekend cruising the internet and freaking out before I talked to my doctor..  I ended up going to see a specalist at Children's hospital.... had loads of interviews with doctors and genetisists (sp)... had a freaking long ultrasound... a panel of doctors "discussed" our case... and ended up being told they couldn't see anything.

We had a pediatrician (sp) at my twins' birth just incase... but he was and is fit as a fiddle. 

Several months after he was born he developed a mole on his chest... its kind of a reminder of what could have been.

Anyways I hope you and your baby are okay.  I know its super scary. 

K

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SnowQueen - I've got a whole list of things for my husband and I to be really insistent on when we go in. Hopefully breastfeeding won't be an issue, I just know there's a chance it may not be possible from the get go. We'll get on track, though!

K2 - It's good to know they can make mistakes! I'm planning on spending this weekend under the assumption that everything is going to be juuust fiiine. I know deep down I may not get that lucky, but worrying isn't going to change anything. I've almost convinced myself, though, that the little guy just doesn't FEEL like swallowing, that maybe he's a picky eater like his parents and doesn't LIKE the taste of amniotic fluid.  ;) 

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Keep in mind that if you know he or she will be born with a condition, they may need to do a c section to reduce the amt of stress the baby goes through during labor.  And yes, it can still be a bonding and special experience.  Even if you can't breast feed immediately, or even for a few days, you can pump and your milk can be stored until your baby can have it.  I have a friend with a daughter, now 5, who was born at 33 weeks and she couldn't hold her for several weeks, but she pumped every 2 hrs round the clock so Kira could have her milk, even if it was ml at a time. 

Hopefully the breast feeding will catch on, many babies do.  But even if they don't, you can continue to pump and feed with a bottle.  I bottle fed all of mine, some formula, and don't believe the hype, bottle fed babies get snuggled and bonded with mom and dad just as much as breast fed babies.

You can also spend lots of time talking and singing in the NICU if your baby needs to be there, and they encourage Skin to Skin contact with both mom and dad, even if you are not breast feeding.  This can be very good for both baby and parents. 

and if after further tests it does seem like your child will be born with a condition, seek a support group either online or in person.  Other families have gone through it, and even just knowing the likely progression of tests and surgeries after birth can be helpful in reducing your fears.  knowledge is power, so become as informed as you can before your little one comes.

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They've mentioned that if the amniotic fluid levels keep going up they might have to induce and I know that also means the chance of a c-section goes up. I will take it one step at a time, but I've already looked up a support group for parents of kids with the condition and have been reading as much as I can. Thanks for the advice and encouragement!

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Just an update: We saw the perinatal specialist today and she confirmed that the baby is not swallowing. The esophageal atresia is what is most likely causing the problem (she said she really had no doubt and even thought she saw where the esophagus ended) and we've been referred to a pediatric surgeon. I guess from this point we just play it by ear and get ready for the challenges ahead. Thanks again for all the kindness!

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Just an update: We saw the perinatal specialist today and she confirmed that the baby is not swallowing. The esophageal atresia is what is most likely causing the problem (she said she really had no doubt and even thought she saw where the esophagus ended) and we've been referred to a pediatric surgeon. I guess from this point we just play it by ear and get ready for the challenges ahead. Thanks again for all the kindness!

I'm happy its something they can fix :), but I am so sorry for the stress it must be causing you :(...its hard enough being super pregnant, and worrying about the delivery.  You and your little darling will be in my thoughts and prayers :)

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Thanks very much, Baby. I'll take all the positive thoughts we can get right now! I truly appreciate your kindness!

It's been very rough the past week. The more I learn about the condition and what it takes to fix it and what other babies have gone through the scarier it is. I'm trying my best to look on the bright side and hope for the best though!

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Hi guys! I thought I'd write with a quick update. Shortly after my last post I was put on bedrest with preeclampsia and they started me on twice-weekly "non-stress tests" (monitoring for me and baby). Two and a half weeks ago I went in for my regular testing and my blood pressure was through the roof and my kidneys were failing so they induced and, long story short, I had my son, Oliver Finn, at 34 weeks via emergency c-section 17 hours later. As they suspected, he did have esophageal atresia and he had first surgery at 5 days old. That seems to have been a success but they did find that he has a much more tricky repair that needs to be done on his trachea and esophagus and that will happen mid-July. He had two more surgeries last week - a g-tube (feeding tube in his stomach) and a tracheostomy (hole in his throat so he can breathe on his own and not disturb the site of the surgery they'll be doing). It has been pretty crazy. I finally got to hold him for the first time a few days ago and it was AMAZING. He'd been going through some pretty nasty withdrawals from morphine (he'd been sedated since day2) and had the worst shakes and wouldn't stop crying but as soon as he was in my arms he settled and slept for hours. It was the best experience of my life! It was really hard the first two weeks - I've never cried so much - but these last few days have been better and it looks like he might get a chance to just be a baby for a few weeks before the next surgery and being back on sedation. We've got a long, rough road ahead - it will be years worth of procedures and surgeries to get him truly well and even then he will always have issues he'll need to deal with (small bites, chewing very well, trouble swallowing some foods, prone to pneumonia, and on and on), but we hope to have him home with us in the next couple months. I can't wait to be able to be a mom without an audience of nurses!
Here's a picture of my little guy: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=31480793&l=af8f295027&id=1224082391

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congrats! sounds like you are handling things very well. Enjoy the next couple of weeks!
love to you both.

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My heart goes out to you for having to be so strong while your sweet baby is having to go through so much.  He sounds like a little fighter! What a darling picture! Much love and support, enjoy your new baby!

-BGS

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He is so cute!!  Congratulations.  I'm sorry to hear of all the touble, but hopefully that will all be left behind soon. 

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Congratulations! He is beautiful. Sorry you and Oliver are having a really tough time. But someday (maybe 6 months, maybe a year, maybe two years...) all of this will seem like it is in the very distant past. Best wishes to your family!

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He's beautiful Jen!  I'm glad everything is turning out well.  Interestingly enough, I went to college with a girl who shares your name. 

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