Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What I think happened

I'm a researcher, and was always that kid who wanted to know 'why'. I remember the first time I searched the internet for an illness. It was way back in 1998 when I was diagnosed with shingles. This also happened to be my first foray into academia, but scholarly journals were not yet in my repertoire. Thus I worked myself into a panic, thinking i had some autoimmune disorder. Hell maybe I do.

Anyway, that's where it began, but my need for more and more information would only increase from there. I'm an information junky. As I moved into graduate school, I only became more sophisticated, especially with the increased access to scholarly journals.

When I was pregnant with Simone, I read everything I could. When I was breastfeeding Simone, I read everything I could, so much so my dissertation is over that topic today. I'm a breastfeeding factotum.

So when I was pregnant with Myles, and knew I got to be home with home for at least 6 months, I was stoked. B was a SAHD, so I went back to work full-time when she was 8 weeks. She was exclusively breastfed (except when we added solids) and then we continued breastfeeding until she was 2 and 1/2.

I so looked forward to breastfeeding, Myles. But I researched a million other things too, going diaper free, using cloth diapers, making baby food. I was sooooo ready. And I remember writing a blog when I found out he was a boy, so enthralled with the idea of raising a son.

That's when, after my 20 week appt. my doc called and said there was an echogenic foci on Myles' heart. It looked like a little bit of calcium in his left ventrical, and it can be a marker for down syndrome. Well I got the quad screen and the level two, and I had a 1/2300 chance, and I ended up teaching my ob/gyn about it as it is a normal variant and it generally means nothing in and of itself. His heart was perfect, just a blip. So I told myself, so I told her, so the research said. But deep inside, I worried.

Then there was my girth. I measured 7cm big through most of my pg (at 20 weeks, I measured 27), I was borderline polyhydramnios (which I also researched the hell out of) but was assured that everything else was okay. This worried me, deep inside though.

During my pregnancy I had shingles (yep, remember those shingles when I was 18) twice. Never had I had them so close together. They are an indicator of stress for me, I've had them 6 times since I was 18.

I had awful ear infections. I had never had an ear infection in my life. I never knew how excruciating they were, I feel so sad for all those little ones who suffer. Oh, nights were the worst, wake up, ear throbbing; and that was in addition to all the other things that wake you up when you're giant prego. I had recurrent ear infections, with a total of 5 appointments for them starting at my 18th week of pregnancy. My last appt with the ENT I cancelled the Monday after the Saturday that Myles was born still. I knew deep down, that my ear infections would be gone soon. They've never returned.

I had carpal tunnel. This seems like and odd ante dote, but it was very painful and I hadn't had it with my last pregnancy (add that to the long list) so it was another piece of a puzzle I was frantically trying to figure out.

Well, it wasn't frantic yet. On Sept. 23rd, 2007, I went into preterm labor when Myles was 28 weeks. Bam, my world changed. Had blood and mucous, went to hospital, dilating, drugs, worry. Go home, bed rest, more and more worries. Gobs or research. I couldn't sleep, I was on bedrest, and I was glued to my computer. What was wrong with me? Why was my uterus irritable (I contracted 5 times or more an hour for 12 weeks). I had a couple non-stress tests, another level II ultra sound, I was put on the drugs visteril (sp?) and (procardia) and I as left all depressed and OCD.

And the ticking tock for me was a shift in the amniotic fluid. Up until 28 weeks I was measuring 7cm, by the time I had my appt. on the Tuesday before he died, I was 37 weeks and 37 centimeters. I remember commenting to midwife, I wonder where all that amniotic fluid is going? Then pooh poohing myself for finding something else to worry about.

My theory:
First, I think it has to do with gender. I already knew from my studies that boy babies did worse 'on average' than girl babies. They're less hardy, more likely to have complications, etc. They are also more likely to die from SIDS and stillbirth.

Then I read all these articles on testosterones effect on the immune system, and a lot of stuff on how autoimmune disorders are sometimes temporarily relieve during pregancy because the immune system is tuned down so the body does not reject the baby.

So what do I think happened? I think my immune system did the opposite, and that the cells from the placenta and uterine wall did not properly bind, or as they grew, did not grow quickly or were restricted in some way.

I believe that the scar tissue band in my uterus, and my placenta accreta are evidence of this.

I believe that Myles was smaller than he should be. Simone was born at 35 weeks and weighed 6lbs 11oz. I gained more weight with Myles (60lbs) than I did with Simone, and with 2 weeks longer in the oven, he only weighed 6lbs 7oz. He was big through every sonogram and I'm 5ft 8in and I'm the runt in my family.

Finally, I believe he died of fetal asphyxiation. I believe that when I went into pretern labor, that blood was indicative of an abruption or of the placenta hitting that band. I believe that is why I went into preterm labor, and why he fell off his growth chart between 28-37 weeks gestation.

I can't figure out that foci though, thats the part that haunts me. And so does the research on stress and pregnancy outcomes. I pushed myself to the brink that pregnancy, for what?

So, I actually do have a doc I saved all of this stuff on, its filled with articles and webpages to links to each piece. I will probably come back through and hyperlink, and would be thrilled to get such a request! The one thing I love about research is talking about research!


Bill Wonch said...
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Ya Chun said...

a lot of factors.

have you ever been tested for autoimmune antibodies? I had my tests at a rheumatologist.

no answers, really, which makes me anxious for the next pregnancy. They don't really know... maybe enuf parents don't push these issues enuf.?

Wendy said...

Hi. I just found your blog. I'm sorry for your loss.

I too lost my son, Theron, to stillbirth. I believe (after lots of research) that I also have auto-immune issues that are stimulated by being pg. I had shingles with my first (born healthy at 36 wks) and increased CMV titers with Theron (he was negative) who was s/b at 30 weeks. He was also small and I believe, though NOT confirmed by drs., that my CMV caused my placenta to fail.

Anyway, its interesting to read your story and know that I'm not crazy in my beliefs, even though no medical professional will agree with me.