On Tuesday we went back up to Syracuse for our ultrasound and fetal echocardiogram. The ultrasound showed excellent growth of our baby boy - at 26 weeks he weighs approximately 2 lbs. 5 oz.! Chubby! The omphalocele has grown in size, but proportionately so, which is to be expected. It is about 3-4 centimeters in diameter, or an inch and 3/4. Not too bad considering he is probably about 14-16 inches long from head to heel.
The fetal echocardiogram went smoothly and the results were also excellent. Baby has no visible heart defects! The pediatric cardiologist went on to explain that, under normal circumstances, the chance of a baby being born with a heart defect is about 1 in 100. After checking the heart from many different angles and ruling out 96 various defects, our chances of the baby having a heart defect that wasn't identified on the sonogram is about 1 in 10,000. He said that there are four different defects that cannot be 100% ruled out on sonogram. One of those, called a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), is sometimes associated with omphalocele. This is a hole in the wall between the ventricles - or bottom chambers - of the heart. They tried to get the best view of that structure that they could and couldn't find any defects there. When the baby is born they will perform an echocardiogram on him to be sure, but the cardiologist seemed pretty confident that they won't find anything.
Overall, it was a great day! We received more pictures, though none of them were 3D or any better than the ones I've already posted. As the baby gets bigger, it gets harder to see a full profile. I know this from the many ultrasounds I had when pregnant with Julia.
So what happens from here? On May 12th we will meet with the pediatric surgeon who will be performing the surgery to repair the omphalocele. We will hopefully get an idea of what that process will look like in terms of type and number of operations, length of stay in NICU, etc.. Starting in two weeks, I will be visiting my regular mid-wife's office weekly for non-stress tests and fluid level checks. This means that I will sit in a nice recliner with a cup of juice while they hook two monitors up to my belly: one that measure uterine contractions and the other that monitors fetal heartbeat. Then they will measure my uterus to make sure it's within normal range. Additionally, we will continue to go to Syracuse for growth monitoring ultrasounds. We will have one at 30 weeks and another at 34 weeks, and then I think they will start seeing me weekly for ultrasounds at 36 weeks. By this time school will be out, so it shouldn't be too bad.
Then, provided all goes smoothly, I will return to Syracuse on July 27th for blood work and to meet with the anesthesiologist. On the 28th of July, Baby Clarke will be born via repeat c-section at approximately 10:30am.
Although I still feel a certain sense of loss because this pregnancy is not perfect, I am overjoyed and feel incredibly blessed that the dark side of this situation is only a brief shadow. He will come home with us and live a completely happy, healthy, and normal life. There was a point in time when I felt cheated out of my "natural birth" plan with Julia. I felt I had somehow failed as a mother because I needed modern medicine to safely deliver my child, and was constantly thinking, if this had been a century or more ago, one or both of us would most likely have died. Now I thank God for the advances in medicine that have made and will make it possible for us to raise this family. I feel very fortunate. I also feel very, very, VERY fortunate that we have excellent health insurance!!!
Thanks once again to our family and friends for the support. I'm sure some of you probably feel like it's all we talk about these days. I know that gets tiresome - hearing someone whine about the same issue over and over again. We appreciate your patience and willingness to listen, your generous offers of assistance, and your undying optimism. We love you guys!
And no, we are no closer to settling on a name than we were two, four, six months ago. We are not withholding - we simply can't decide!!!