Booo for Nasty Healthcare Providers
Time to celebrate the beginning of my second trimester! It feels so good to be making progress—I can check the first trimester off my list (two more to go). After recovering from last week's challenges, I thought I was ready to take on whatever came my way—after all, I survived the two-hour genetic counseling session and more blood work. So, what else could happen, right? Right.
When Healthcare Providers Are No Fun
This week I had my regular four-week appointment with my OB-GYN. I'd been really looking forward to it. I wasn't sure what was going to happen at the appointment, but I was ready to hear lots of positive things about my baby and pregnancy.
When I got to the office I did the routine—weight check, urine cup. I'm getting better at not cringing when I step on the scale—you're supposed to be gaining a little. Then I had to wait for my OB-GYN. I wasn't seeing my regular doctor, which I wasn't concerned about, until my substitute OB-GYN walked in. No casual conversation or quick smiles, just all business. She commented about my weight. I could tell this wasn't going to go well.
We chatted about the foods I was eating and my exercise routine. OK, maybe it just took a little time for us to get used to each other. But then she asked about my blood work. I guess the results of my tests from three weeks ago (all 12 vials of it!) weren't in my files. She seemed flustered by that and left to track them down.
Twenty minutes later she returned with half of the blood work results in hand. She explained the rest was being faxed. We went over the results: I was slightly anemic. OK. She said, "Eat more beef." I found this a little unsettling since she didn't even ask if beef was part of my regular diet. I don't mind a little red meat, but it just doesn't taste good right now. No hamburger cravings for me! She suggested if I didn't want to eat more meat I should take a supplement instead. (When I got home and did a little Googling, I found out that green vegetables, beans, and nuts are high in iron too, which is what I needed. Spinach salad, anyone?)
When the second half of the blood work came back, she said there was a problem I needed to discuss with a genetic counselor. But I'd just been to the genetic counselor, I explained. I was confused. I thought something must be seriously wrong with my baby. She said I had a genetic mutation that could lead to cystic fibrosis (CF) but I'd have to discuss it with my counselor. She filled out a form and told me to have the front desk fax it to the genetic counselor on my way out. My heart was pounding, my head was spinning, and I was still confused! At some point we listened to the baby's heartbeat, which was reassuring. Still, I just wanted to race out of the office and call my husband.
Taking Matters into My Own Hands
The next morning I called the genetic counselor right away. I was lucky enough to talk with a counselor who had extensive experience with CF. She patiently answered all my questions. Turns out I'm a CF carrier. But since CF is a recessive disorder—meaning that both parents have to have the genetic mutation for the baby to be at risk (25 percent chance)—there really isn't a concern unless my husband is a carrier too. She explained the easiest way to rule out my baby having CF was to have my husband take a blood test. As long as he wasn't a carrier there was no chance my baby would have CF. She also said that 85 percent of Caucasians are carriers of some sort of genetic mutation, just like me. My husband didn't have the same health insurance as I did, so we had to pay out of pocket for the CF blood test—and it wasn't cheap!
As we awaited my husband's results, we felt frustrated, angry, and confused. But after giving it some thought, we decided that we were happy with how things were. We couldn't change how our baby was developing, and we were so happy just to be having a baby. We decided we needed to take things one step at a time. If my husband's results came back positive, we figured we'd have to decide what to do then, but we couldn't do anything else about it at that moment.
I learned a lot this week. I spent a lot of time researching CF and contemplating what I'd do if my baby had a genetic disorder. I found out that being anemic means you have a low amount of iron in your system and I didn't have to eat beef to increase my iron level. But I also learned that it's OK to tell someone to slow down if you don't understand what she's talking about. This is my body and my pregnancy. Being pregnant can be stressful, and I know myself. I feel more comfortable meeting with my regular OB-GYN so for my next appointment I made sure I'd be seeing her!
Waist measurement: 34 inches
Weekly weigh-in: 156 pounds
Pregnancy symptoms: Finally, I've got the beginnings of a baby bump! I think in the last week I have jumped in weight and size, but only in my belly. I'm feeling more energetic. I stopped riding my bike to work for safety reasons and instead I'm walking a total of two miles each day. It keeps me feeling strong and gives me some alone time before and after work to decompress.
My favorite pregnancy anecdote for the week: "Are you pregnant?" It's hard for people to ask if they aren't sure or don't want to be insulting if they aren't right, so it's interesting to hear the different inflections on that single question. A mom at my school who knew I'd been trying to lose weight before asked me quietly this week if I was pregnant. She noticed I'd been gaining a little, but only around the tummy (thank goodness).
Pregnancy "first" of the week: The beginning of my second trimester! Yeah!
Doctor's visit: Four-week checkup. My advice: Stick with your regular doctor as much as you can, ladies, and bring someone with you the first few times—especially if this is your first pregnancy. Don't feel silly about it. I learned my lesson.
About the Photo: The above picture of the author was taken during her 13th week of pregnancy by Dean Lipoff.
Read the next installment: week 14