A Scary Twist...x2

Friday, January 28, 2011

So, although we have had a couple scary twists, one with Emma and one with Jackson while I was pregnant with them, they have both turned out perfectly fine, which is one of the many things I have been telling myself over and over again this morning. Because wouldn't you know, enter...Scary Twist #2 with Jackson.

Of course I am behind on my updating the blog, so I was just going to hop on during lunch to post about how great things were going and how I turned 32 weeks (8 months) pregnant on Wednesday, and how we only had 8 weeks left. In that post, I was also going to talk about how I was really getting tired of being pregnant and how that seemed to come so much faster with Jackson then with Emma. I have had a lot more body aches and pains, a sore back, more contractions, the swelling has started, you name it. But as of this morning, all of that went flying right out the window, and I am praying that I am pregnant up until my due date, and really, I hope to even just make it another month.

I had my follow up growth sonogram this morning, which was a simple follow up to our last sonogram 6  weeks ago. At that point, Jackson was measuring a week behind his "age", but had been pretty consistent with that from very early on. Since Emma was born at a whopping 5 lbs 12 ounces at 38.5 weeks, no one was thinking that much about it, just assuming Jackson was on the small side as well. Today we got some new details though. Jackson is now measuring about 2 weeks behind. Although he should have measured 32 Weeks and 2 Days, he measured 30 Weeks and 3 Days. Because one of his two main jobs right now is to gain weight (his other one is to develop his lungs), its more concerning then before, especially since he is no longer consistent and moving in the opposite direction. The other concern is exactly where and how he is measuring small.

There are basically two different ways a baby can measure small (from what I understand from the doctor today). A baby can measure small all over, meaning head circumference, length of bones, weight, etc. From head to toe. That basically indicates an overall small baby. The other way a baby can measure small, which is how Jackson was measuring, was only around certain parts, like around his waist. So although his head circumference, length of bones, etc were "average", his waist was in about the 20th percentile which means he isn't gaining any weight (which is one of his two big jobs at this age). So that leads doctors to believe that the placenta is not functioning properly and not providing the nutrients that he needs, which means there will most likely come a point in which Jackson is better off in the outside world, then where he is now. The unknown part, is when that point will be.

So where do we go from here? Well, to the doctor's office and to the hospital 45 times a week apparently. In addition to my regular bi-weekly doctor visits (which will shortly become weekly depending on how long I make it), I will now be heading into the hospital twice a week for non-stress tests (more information on that below). In addition to the non-stress tests, I'm heading back in two weeks for another growth sonogram and here is the scary part (at least the part that tends to freak me out the most). In addition to all that and because the goal is to get me to at least 37 weeks, but since that is 5 weeks away and they aren't sure I will make it that long, I am going in on Monday and Tuesday of next week to get two steroid injections to help develop Jackson's lungs quicker. Apparently, giving the mother steroids helps the baby's lung development in several ways:
  • Increased surfactant production: Steroids increase the amount of surfactant that a premature baby's lungs produce. Surfactant helps the lungs to stay open, but premature babies often do not produce enough.
  • Less fluid in the lungs: When the lungs are filled with fluid, they don't work as well. Steroids can help babies to clear fluid out of their lungs more effectively.
  • Larger lung volumes: Babies exposed to steroids around the time of delivery have more lung tissue. Babies with larger lung volumes are able to oxygenate their blood more easily.
  • Better response to surfactant therapy: Premature babies are often given one or more doses of artificial surfactant to help their lungs stay open. Babies whose moms got steroids respond better to surfactant therapy.
As for the non-stress test, its basically a test that can be ordered once or twice a week, but may even be needed more often for some people. The tests  helps to study the placenta and the baby's overall health. The test shows how well the placenta is working by looking at how the baby's heart rate responds to contractions of the uterus or the baby's own movements. It's a pretty easy test in which you get two belts put across your belly, one belt monitors the baby's heart rate and one baby monitors contractions. Just as an adults heart rate gets faster when we exercise, the same should happen with the baby. Usually, a baby's heart rate gets faster by 15 beats per minute during activity. This higher heart rate lasts for about 15 seconds. The goal is to get this to happen at least two times in a span of twenty minutes. They will give you basically two tries each time for this test, so if the baby isn't moving much for the first 20 minutes, you get another shot at an additional 20 minutes. If for some reason the little one is still quiet, I will then go for a ultrasound right then and there for a biophysical profile. This tests the baby in five different areas:
  1. Variation of fetal heart rate
  2. Breathing movements
  3. Body movements
  4. Muscle tone
  5. Amount of amniotic fluid
As part of my growth sonogram today, I had that test done as well and all looks good so far! I am still waiting to talk to my regular doctor to get his thoughts (the doctor I spoke with was the doctor located at the Fetal Assessment Center in the hospital) and I have several questions for him waiting, but we will certainly keep everyone posted.

I have certainly been through a wide range of emotions today which has been exhausting, and I can't quite bring myself to talk about those yet but I am sure there is more to come on the subject. Luckily, I have an amazing and beautiful baby waiting to be picked up who I have no doubt will brighten my day. And today, of all days, is certainly one that I need a big hug and a slobbery, wet, toddler kiss, hopefully followed by lots of play time and night-time snuggles.


  1. Laura, Just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of you and baby Jackson. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. What hospital are you delivering at? Harbor Hospital?


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