Oh, the weather outside is frightful… If you like that whole “white Christmas” or “Winter Wonderland” bit. Here in So Cal, it’s a delightful 60 degrees and sunny. This sunshine is particularly welcome since for the last five or six days, it has been pouring rain. I used to think I’d love to live in Seattle, but now I’m not so sure. I think with the right rain coat and an umbrella that closes and doesn’t have half of the metal supports sticking out like needles of death ready to take out an eye, I could be fine. It’s my dog who couldn’t cut it. My soggy doggy is a pathetic mess.
In Southern California, when it rains, people go apeshit. They don’t know how to drive, they don’t know how to walk, and all they can talk about is Armageddon (not the movie). I swear, a few drizzles and everyone is convinced that God has broken his promise to Noah and we’re all going to die.
Today, I did my last-minute Christmas shopping (is there any other kind?). I felt cheerful as I passed the bleachers set up for the Rose Parade. I was delighted to discover my local mall virtually empty (I overheard the salespeople griping about it, though) and got my Secret Santa duties out of the way pretty easily. Imagine, me, cheerful and delighted. It didn’t last long.
Odie is hard to buy for. He always wants impractical things like a digital microscope or a glass bottom kayak. Nothing under five hundred dollars, and nothing we can afford. Nothing he would ever actually USE. Damn that Hammacher-Schlemmer catalogue. I did the best I could. We agreed to get each other token gifts and make the holiday about V and her cousins. If this year is anything like last year, he’ll get me something awesome and I’ll feel like a douche when he opens his sweatpants. Hey, the man needs sweatpants.
The biggest gift I could get for Christmas, I already got. It isn’t just the 17 days of vacation I have ahead of me. Although, that is present enough for sure. No, my Christmas miracle is the ultrasound I had on Wednesday. I had an appointment with a perinatologist who is at the top of the field. He practically pioneered the genetic ultrasound, and I’m lucky enough to live just twenty minutes from his office. My appointment was for a first trimester scan, but those in-the-know (a.k.a. the pregnancy community) are well-aware that this is called the NT or nuchal translucency scan. The doctor measures the back of the baby’s neck and you hope for something under 3 millimeters. There is a correlation between a thicker neck and chromosomal abnormalities as well as other developmental problems. My fetus’ neck measured 1.9 mm. The doctor is also looking to see that the placenta has attached to my uterus in a good place. Mine is anterior, and nowhere near my cervix. He checks to see how blood is flowing through the baby’s heart, and mine looks normal. Finally, he looks for the presence of the nasal bone. 60% or so of babies with Down Syndrome or other chromosomal trisomies do not have a nasal bone at the three month ultrasound. So, since 40% of them do have one, it’s not a litmus test for abnormalities. However, only ONE PERCENT of typical fetuses don’t have a nasal bone, so it’s a BIG red flag if it isn’t there. I let out my breath so loud when the doctor said, “Nasal bone is seen,” that the nurse actually laughed.
Everything looks healthy and typical with my little one. It’s a bit on the shrimpy side, but still within normal limits for growth. V has always been in the 95th percentile for height, like Odie is, but I’m certainly not, so there’s no reason to expect all of my offspring will be Amazonian.
Given my “advanced maternal age,” I was nervous as hell about this ultrasound. I used to look forward to ultrasounds, but during my last pregnancy, I went to my appointment all giddy and overjoyed, and the doctor found a problem. Her kidneys were both enlarged. I had to schedule another appointment for seven weeks later. I nervously dreaded that appointment for seven weeks. When that day finally came, I discovered that one kidney was now normal, but the other was worse. I remember leaving the exam room, walking into the waiting room to leave, and bursting into tears. All of the happy chatter in the waiting room ceased instantly. All of the women and their husbands made tight faces and avoided my eyes. They assumed I had just gotten the news they were all here hoping not to get. I wondered if anyone felt encouraged that maybe I’d just lowered their odds of hearing it.
Another seven week wait and another ultrasound. To my extreme relief, her kidneys were normal. But NOW her growth was inadequate. Her abdomen was too small. It was another rollercoaster of elation and fear. The doctor prescribed bedrest and told me he’d see me in three weeks. Great. Another ultrasound to look forward to with trepidation.
Well, it all worked out fine, but I swore that if I ever had another baby, I wouldn’t have all of these stupid tests and get myself back on this rollercoaster of cortisol and adrenaline. Yet, here I am again. All buckled up.