I knew what I was getting myself into when The Hubs and I decided to have another baby. My pregnancy would be full of extra appointments, extra ultrasounds, extra blood work, and constant monitoring. I was aware it could end with bed rest, hospital bed rest or having another lengthy NICU stay.
However, just because I was privy to the logistics, I was caught off guard by how much I would feel like a science experiment.
I was diagnosed by something called Low PAPP-A, low pregnancy-associated plasma A, early in my pregnancy. Low PAPP-A is often associated with down syndrome or, in my case, associated with placenta and pre-eclampsia problems. At 14 weeks, this wasn't the best news I could hear but it didn't automatically mean I would run into problems. There is not a lot known about why this occurs but it's not an automatic "you're doomed". "We'll just wait and watch," the O.B. team said.
The radiologist looks for notching on my uterine arteries which can indicate the baby isn't getting proper nutrition and oxygen. Part of my monthly ultrasound is testing the flow of those arteries. At this point I can read the ultrasound waves as the tech is performing the scan and know whether or not the notching is still mild or if it has gotten worse.
I can pull up my blood labs online and figure out what my protein levels are, my platelet levels, my hematocrit levels, uric acid, creatinine, and liver enzymes. I know what the levels should be and which direction is good or bad.
I'm constantly on the lookout for swelling, headaches, ringing ears, and seeing spots. I know the proper way to take my own blood pressure and what good and acceptable readings are.
I'm a fucking science experiment.
Sometimes I feel like I'm not looked at as a pregnant woman but as an experiment as to how long I can stay pregnant with all these variables before pre-eclampsia rears its ugly head. The hospital is keeping my placenta after birth to study the affects of Low PAPP-A (it's a research hospital who just happens to specialize is Low PAPP-A research), and I've signed a waiver for them to anonymously use my medical records while they study HELLP Syndrome and Pre-Eclampsia and what happens in subsequent pregnancies.
While I'm happy I can do my part with their research, it's sometimes hard and I fall apart. I'm just a mom trying to complete my family not Case Study 472. I put on a hard front but underneath I'm afraid of all these conditions and feel like I'm constantly waiting for the other foot to fall.
I'm on bed rest so the other foot has been raised, there's no telling how fast it'll come down. Maybe I have until 36 weeks, maybe I don't.
Guess they can put that in their notes.