At my next appointment, I met with my OB. He seemed concerned that we now had an extra hurdle with the polyhydramnios. It was already enough to know we might never bring a baby home, but now there was an extra health concern. Again, I turned around and said, “Here you go, God, hold this for me.”
My OB explained that the AFI levels basically reflected the “honeymoon” stage of polyhydramnios. His concern was that things would start to “get weird,” meaning more complicated, around 30 weeks, and feared my uterus may not be able to take the pressure of the fluid.
My specialist seemed to not be too overly concerned about the AFI in those first few weeks, and said I seemed healthy and strong under the circumstances. I remember lying in Room 1 as we began to discuss the side effects of the polyhydramnios, and I wasn’t sure if she was downplaying the severity in order to make me not too anxious. I was now in the low 30s of AFI. “Severe” polyhydramnios begins at 35 AFI.
“You are okay, it would be concerning if you were in the 60s or something, so right now we will wait and see if you stabilize,” she said. I thought she was joking with the 60s number; my research on “Dr. Google” never really showed anything past 40 AFI. The option of an amnioreduction was briefly discussed, but we decided against anything that may cause infection or risk pre-term labor.
During the ultrasound at my 27-week appointment, I watched as the team took more pictures of Tessa’s little heart and organs. Each ultrasound appointment became a blessing, a chance to see my daughter moving and kicking as her image popped up on the dark screen.
Something I quickly learned about polyhydramnios is that it hurts. The pain from all that excess fluid stretching out my belly began to get more intense, but I did not complain. I welcomed with open arms everything that came, and just tried to stay as calm and level-headed as possible. Household chores and errands became harder each day as I became filled with more fluid. My stomach would tighten and become rock hard for minutes at a time. I feared the thought of pre-term labor, but also trusted that God had this handled and that Tessa would come when she was supposed to.
At 29 weeks, I made this post to Facebook:
“I am now 29 weeks, 3rd trimester…the last trimester of my pregnancy journey with my Tessa Faith. It’s been 9 weeks since we were given the news that Tessa is full Trisomy 18, with major heart and organ defects, a staple of Edward’s Syndrome. 9 weeks, that you would think feels like forever but to me it feels like I blinked.
“She is still fighting. Each appointment I hold my breath before I hear or see her heartbeat, even if I have just felt her kicking moments before. I am getting to the point where I wonder, ‘Is this the last time I’m going to see her on the screen? Is this the last time I will hear her heartbeat?’ As emotional as that is, it is also that much more special to me that I get to hear or see her, and I cherish that sound of thumping beats, and try to hold still that moment that I can see her covering her face like her sister did during her ultrasounds.
“Now that we are in the third trimester, and the final stretch, with so much unknown, I have never been more at peace by putting all of my trust in God. I have never been more full of faith, and just trying to be positive every day, and to stretch the hours I have to fulfill what I can of each daily gift, even if that means resting my body.
“It has become harder for me physically, to walk or sit for long periods of time, and I’m not going to lie, it is painful. My belly is huge, mostly fluid from the polyhydramnios. I have had a lot of contractions for weeks now, and daily my stomach has been getting harder and harder, and the contractions have been getting longer.
“I don’t know why my husband and I were given this hand. I don’t know why things happen, or why I probably won’t ever get to give Tessa advice about boys or help her get ready for prom. But I do know that I love her just as much as Tatum, and even though I hurt physically and of course emotionally, I know that my faith is bigger than my fears, and I trust God.
“Even under the circumstances, I am so honored that God trusted me to show this little person my love. Keep fighting baby girl.” -May 6th, 2017
Since the 25-week appintment, I had begun looking for clothing in different sizes for Tessa. I had traveled to different stores and shops looking for micro-preemie and preemie clothing. I did not want just anything. My husband and I wanted her to have a very special outfit. What if it was the only outfit she ever gets to wear? Or what if she gets to come home and I don’t have anything special just for her!
I found a few things online, but was disappointed I couldn’t feel the material unless I ordered them. I did not want to be unprepared if she were to arrive too early, so I began to order a few things here and there that I thought “looked like her” if that makes sense. Too me, she was sweet, and kind. She was soft, and full of love. I knew her because of the bond we shared daily. I wanted to find something that reflected who I thought she was. I finally found the perfect outfit, it was white cotton with small pink roses, and came with a matching beanie. It was soft to the touch, and seemed so cozy. I ordered a few “back up” outfits, but when the white cotton gown with pink roses came in the mail I said, “This is it! This is so perfect for her and she will love it.”