Saturday, 19 February 2011

Silence of the Sisterhood - part 7

The day of the second scan has arrived. 

Sods law the appointment is mid-morning, so (up from the crack of dawn, obviously) we have hours to gnaw on.  I break and cry over the loss of hope; Shaun glues me back together.  Every 20 minutes we swap roles – the only unceasing thing is our wish for a healthy child and the never fading question: “what have we done to deserve this?”

We hold hands in the little room, but there is nothing magical about this scan.  As we stare at the screen in the same way motorists stare at a car crash, all we feel is sickness.  There is no pride, no joy.  In fact, there is not a lot of anything.  We just want to know.

This consultant, this man, is a prince among men, and obviously in the wrong job as he understands how to communicate.  Patiently he lays out the facts – more balanced this time, but essentially the same story.  With a twist.  Whilst there may be absolutely nothing wrong with our baby (hey, could we have been told that 7 days ago), what could be wrong is Edwards Syndrome, which is worse.  So bad in fact, that they would force me to terminate.  I try not to laugh that they would have the luxury of a choice I am not legally entitled to have at this stage of my pregnancy.

Patiently he answers our questions.  Patiently he explains the next steps, the ifs, the ands, the buts.  He is helping me stay calm.  The only way to be sure is to test the baby, either by amniocentesis or CVS.  The former takes 2 weeks for results, the CVS 24 hours.  Guess which one we choose, and ooh, could they fit us in tomorrow ?  They can, and I am provisionally booked in the day after for my termination.

The CVS is very similar to the amnio – big fuck off needle right into your womb, small sample of cells – except that it uses the placenta rather than the amniotic fluid.  Thankfully, 2 female doctors do the test, though why it should matter to me that the doctors are women, I really don’t know; it just does.  One works the ultrasound, whilst the other injects me with some local anaesthetic.  On the other side of me, Shaun has been instructed to not let go of my hand under any circumstances.

The first doctor says she wants to check whether the local has worked.  “Can I feel that ?”  Nope.  “So you didn’t feel the needle go in ?”  Oh.  No I didn’t.  Ha ha.  This might not be as bad as I thought.  She explains that it will be the next bit that hurts – you can’t numb the womb – but that she will warn me before the needle goes in.  Good.  I start to practice my breathing.
OWCH.  I literally jump in the air and Shaun shakes his hand free, convinced I have broken something.  She didn’t warn me.   And it hurt.  I felt and heard an almighty pop, like a balloon being punctured, but it was the shock that really really caught me unawares.  Worse, I am now tense, and my toes are all curled inwards but I daren’t relax in case it hurts when I move (I feel like I have been speared to the table).  Shaun tries to help by making me laugh – owch darling, so not a good move.  The judder of my nervous laugh causes the needle to move and me to ow ow ow again.  Later, the bruise will be all his fault.

Now we get the warnings.  How there is a slight risk of miscarriage.  How there might be blood, and how I should worry about some blood but not about other blood.  How I must rest completely for 48 hours.  Shaun harrumphs at this point, knowing how impossible the latter is without a stun gun, a ratchet strap and some serious narcotics.

Slowly I scoop myself off the table.  I feel dizzy and adrenalised, like I did when I had an obstinate wisdom tooth taken out.  Shaun loops his arm through mine and picks up my handbag, even though we both know he feels like a girl for doing so. 

The doctor tells me she will ring tomorrow.

More sisterly cooing.  That evening we learn of friends and friends of friends who have had similar tests.  I guess you can understand why people would keep that private, but why couldn’t they have reassured me before the test ?  Don’t they remember how they jumped ?

“Oh, but its all worth it now …. “

It may well be worth it, but at the moment I don’t know whether I will ever find that out.  I had convinced myself that the second half of my pregnancy would be a breeze after the ordeal of the first 4 months.

“Hi.  My name’s Debbie and I’m naïve.”

Armed with a stack of DVDs and the satellite remote control, I spend the next day in a duvet cocoon on the sofa, interrupted only by the continuing need to pee and Shaun’s half-hourly calls to check my most strenuous movement is breathing.  A worse waiter than me, he has gone to work, but I have forgotten to ask whether he wants me to ring him as soon as I get the phone call, or whether I should wait till he gets home and I can tell him face to face.  It seems a gruesome echo of the original dilemma about how to tell him of my pregnancy; how cruel that it might end with the same conundrum.

The call comes almost exactly 24 hours after the test, and the news is prefaced with obligatory doctor-speak (the test results at this stage are only 90% accurate and not everything can be tested for).
It is in this, the 22nd week of my pregnancy that I get the first good news I have had – the results indicate our baby is healthy – and I get a bonus for being a good girl: would I like to know what sex the baby is ?

You betcha.

Shaun didn’t want to know the sex of the baby, so I ring him with the good news and to offer him the choice of knowing or not knowing.  He sighs.  He knows he has lost this round.  He knew he would lose this round from the minute he got pregnant with the woman who can’t even wait till December for her Christmas presents.

I always knew I would have a girl.  Knew, with cast iron certainty.  I think I knew from the moment my mother died, 2 years previously.  Something to do with recreating our bond, or my feeling that I would know how to raise a girl better than I would know what to do with a boy (how many boys want to bake cookies and get glitter in their hair?)   But we had had so many signs we were having a boy that I had started to refer to our baby as my little boy.  A positive thinker, I figured if I got used to it being a boy I wouldn’t be so disappointed when it popped out and wasn’t a girl.  

And that was one of the really weird things about the whole Edwards scare.  Even though I knew what the outcome would be if the baby did have Edwards, the whole episode made me feel incredibly protective of the little sleeping bean I carried inside me.  It made me want to look after him, shelter him from the horrors of the world.

Even though I knew it was me who would visit the worst horror on him.
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