A Pregnancy Update: Part 2

Catch up on the not-so-brief explanation of what was going on in Part One.

Just as a quick recap: Tricare finally got back with me for an appointment, but I still had yet to talk to my doctor. She originally called to tell me all of this on a Wednesday afternoon, but as of Tuesday evening (the next week) she hadn’t returned my call.

Wednesday, October 31. 
Not content with waiting around for a phone call from my doctor, I went to the clinic with a book in hand and told the receptionist that I would be waiting in the lobby until my doctor had the time to answer the lingering questions I’ve had for a week. I was fed up and decided I wasn’t leaving until I had answers.

Interestingly enough, the doctor could see me about 10 minutes later. She apologized and said she was busy and almost looked genuinally shocked I had been waiting so long to hear back from her (I’m wondering if the first girl I called and talked to ever actually gave her the message). Either way, she was very patient while I asked her my long list of questions, and answered them with in-depth answers. I finally had some answers. 

That’s when I found out that I was just going for a “level 2” ultrasound, which is a more in-depth look than the anatomy scan.  I was worried about having an amniocentesis performed, if it came to that, but she said the doctor is usually on the conservative side and would only recommend it if he saw something glaring on the ultrasound. But if he saw something, he could do it right then and there, so there’d be no need to make another appointment. She also said the doctor spoke great English, so I wouldn’t need a translator and things wouldn’t get lost in translation. Phew!

Since my husband and family had been waiting just as long to find out what’s going on, I emailed them right after to tell them what I knew.  

Wednesday, November 7.
A whole week went by and I was unbelievably calm the entire time. I owe this entirely to God. There were several verses I repeated to myself and I knew there were people praying for me and the baby all around the world. I’m an anxious person by nature—my heart rate usually skyrockets the instant I get scared or nervous about something. But during this entire time I felt good; I wasn’t stressed or overly worried, and I wasn’t even anxious. It was an unbelievable feeling. I knew that—no matter what happened—my husband and I would be blessed with a beautiful, perfect baby girl, and we would love her to the very best of our ability. She was already loved unconditionally by so many. 

Growing up, I would look at my parents and wonder how I could ever be a parent myself. They’re always so selfless. I can even remember telling my mom when I was younger that I didn’t think I could be a mom, because I’m too selfish. She told me that when the time came, my child would be the only thing that mattered.  

It’s that unconditional love that brought my mom to me that Wednesday. Despite the thousands of dollars it cost for a ticket, thousands of miles away from home and my dad, and the time off work, she knew I needed her during this time. I have amazing friends here who offered to go to the appointment with me, but it was beyond comforting to have my mom there by my side. 

Directly after picking my mom up from the airport, we drove to base for my routine 24-week appointment. I saw the same doctor and she was just as patient as before. (At this base, since we don’t have the option of going off base to see a doctor, you have to see all the doctors in rotation, so I don’t have a specific doctor. They all just rotate, which is annoying, in my opinion. Luckily, they let me see her twice in a row.) The baby’s heartbeat was 150 and I’m measuring on track, so that’s all good. The doctor also explained the cyst in a little more detailed, showed me some photos of what it looked like, and answered a few more questions.

Thursday, November 8. 
My mom and I drove the 45 minutes to the hospital in Udine. The Tricare liaison gave me instructions for once we got there: 

“When you get to the hospital, go to building six and text the doctor (number provided) when you are in the building by the elevators. He will contact you with what floor to meet him on.” She also said that we may have to wait awhile, so I should bring a book and some water.

The only way I can describe this hospital is that it’s like stepping back into the cold-war era. It was very bleak and desolate. It was bright and sunny outside, but it felt like we were about to star in a scary movie. There were very few windows, and the entire place was gray, old, and cold. The only thing that brought us back to present day was seeing people scurry around going from place to place.  

Once we got to building six, I texted the doctor. We were waiting at the base of the elevator—besides a bar (a cafe with three small tables that were full) a few steps away, and some stairs, there was no place to sit and wait, so we just stood there. 

Fifteen minutes passed with no answer, so I texted him again. After 30 minutes I started to need the bathroom. Forty-five minutes since the first text and we were still waiting. I called his number this time and got his voicemail, so my mom started to go look for him or someone who knew him or knew where he worked. Out of the eight floors at the hospital, three of them had words that sounded female/baby related, so she went up there while I called the Tricare liaison to see what to do. 

The liaison was worthless and said she’d try texting him (yeah, genius…do that, and good luck getting an answer.) She called me back and said she couldn’t get in touch and that I should just keep waiting. I told her that I was six months pregnant, tired of standing, needed the bathroom, and wasn’t going to “just keep waiting” somewhere where there’s no place to wait. She said I could sit on the floor or on the steps. My mom came back and told me that every other floor had seats—why the liaison didn’t tell me that in the very first place, I have no idea. To be fair, the liaison did say we may have to wait, but I just assumed there would be an actual place to sit other than than the floor. Silly me. (The language barrier and cultural differences are so freaking frustrating.)

Once we found some seats and a bathroom I started to relax. And then, finally, an hour and a half into waiting, the doctor called. He was very soft-spoken and said to meet him on the first floor and he’d be there in about 10 minutes. We went to the first floor and waited there—that floor even had free water! He arrived a few minutes later and apologized, saying he was doing an emergency c-section. 

I instantly felt bad for getting so frustrated at his lack of appearance. That woman and her baby needed him more than I did. But! Can you imagine if that happened in America? There would’ve at least been someone to let us know what was going on, where he was, or where we could wait. 

Anyway, he ushers us into a room and immediately had me get on the exam table. I handed him the report from my doctor, but he didn’t even look at it; he just got right to work doing the ultrasound. He asked me what he was looking for (Umm….seriously? Read the report, you’re the doctor!) and I stumbled over the name of the cyst and the elevated hormone. The machine he was using looked like it was from the 1930s and I was shocked that this was supposed to actually give him answers. Granted, I know he’s been doing this for 20+ years and he knows what he’s looking at, but the picture was just really, really grainy. 

He started off by saying that the cyst was gone “per say,” but then used a whole lot of technical talk after it, which made me confused. He briefly looked at the rest of the baby, and then about 30 minutes into the appointment, he got a phone call regarding the c-section and said told the person on the other line that he’d be there in five minutes. He apologized to us and said he had to go, but asked if we could come back on Sunday when he’d have a better machine and more time to finish the ultrasound and write his report.

We agreed to come back, but before we left my mom asked him—point blank—if he saw anything concerning. “No,” he replied, “there is no concern.” And with that, I let out a little sigh of relief and said we’d see him again on Sunday.

I immediately emailed my husband to tell him what was going on and he called me back right away. I’ve never heard him sound so relieved! I hate that he’s had to go through all of this. It’s easy to be selfish and just think about myself, but he’s been out there alone and still having to “do the mission” while worrying about me and his baby girl. It was nice to give him some good news.

We also told the rest of our family when we got home, and as much as I wanted to believe the doctor that everything was okay, I really wanted him to finish my appointment. It was all so rushed and he was very distracted, and that machine was just so old. I was ready to let out a whole sigh of relief, rather than just a partial breath.

Sunday, November 11.
The doctor told me to text him around 10 to see when we should come over. An hour and a half later, he called back and said we could come over now. At least this time I was waiting at home for him to respond. Forty-five minutes later we were back at the hospital. It was even creepier this time since it was pouring rain and the place was pretty much deserted. 

Luckily, the doctor was waiting for us this time. Things were more relaxed and the machine was better (nothing like a 3-D, but better than the last time; I could at least tell that I was looking at a baby instead of static. 

He spent more than an hour looking at everything! We saw her yawn and he counted 10 fingers and 10 toes, and he looked at all of her organs. 

He said he didn’t see anything to be concerned with and that everything looked normal. He also said that the cyst in the original scan was already gone. Cue tears of joy. The hormone that was elevated (the one that could cause a spinal defect) was most likely high
because of a false positive. It’s apparently extremely common to get
false positives with the quad-screen marker test (something I wish the doctor mentioned before I agreed to the tests. I wish they’d remember some of us are first-timers at this and don’t know all the questions we should ask.)

After he gave us the all-clear and finished writing his report, I emailed my husband. He called me within seconds of me pressing “send” and I shared the good news. That Sunday was his birthday, so telling him that his little girl was going to be okay was better than any gift I could’ve sent him. I could practically see the relief wash over his face.

Today.
The report the doctor typed up could take several weeks to be translated by the Italian Tricare liaison, but my doctor said she’d call me way before then if there was a red flag since understands some Italian. My mom went back home this weekend, so it’s back to just the three of us (me, Bella, and Pickles) holding down the fort here.  

Being out here for all of this has been interesting, to say the least. More than a handful of times I wished I was back in America, and even started looking into going back home if something turned out to be serious with the baby. I know Tricare is a pain in the butt regardless of where I live, but I feel getting care and answers would’ve been a lot less tiresome and a lot of the ambiguous worry could’ve been prevented. Not to mention, it was all just so exaggerated and more dramatic out here because of this particular situation.

Baby girl is still kicking up a storm and getting bigger every day; we’re no longer worried anything is wrong with her. Now the worrying has moved on to keeping her comfy in my belly until my husband gets home in a couple months. Then I’m sure the real worry will settle in (OMG, we’re really going to be parents)!

I’m beyond grateful that this turned out to be nothing and I pray for those women who don’t receive such good news at their appointments. Yes, there are a lot of false positives, but I’ve got to imagine that for every false positive, there is an actual issue. Thank you all again for your concern, support, and prayers. Here’s hoping that the rest of my pregnancy is extremely uneventful!  

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7 Comments

  1. So so so happy for you that all is well!

    I totally understand the awkward foreign doctor thing I have been three times in Sweden, all for woman things, and each time there has been a lot of staring and me just saying ok because I just wanted to leave. Once even they had to call my husband so they could explain in Swedish which was so embarrassing for my husband but o well!

  2. So glad for all of you that your little girl is right on track and where she should be. You were cool, calm, and collected in a stressful situation – I would say you are going to be an excellent Mommy.

  3. Again, I'm so glad that nothing is wrong with Pickles! I know that brings so much relief! Second…holy freaking crap. I would have been SO mad if I'd been in your shoes. I can't believe they gave you such a run-around. An emergency c-section is understandable, but like you said, if it had happened in the States at least someone could've told you what was going on! I really hate that they got you all worried for nothing. I mean, it is good that they took it seriously, but…mamas don't need all that extra stress!

  4. So happy for you!!!! I know how you feel about the constant worrying from the test results. I had my anatomy scan and they found a spot in the heart which isn't an indication of anything wrong with the heart but "could put me at an increased risk" for downs. Since my odds are still low, 1/700, im trying not to freak.

  5. I am so thankful our God answers prayers! What a relief to know that everything is OK and that your little girl is growing and developing as she should be. I have to tell you I cried when I read your blog because I could just feel the frustration and fear. I've been to that hospital (to visit a friend) and certainly can understand the language barrier, plus with your hubby deployed! You're a strong woman and will be an amazing mom. That little girl is lucky to be so loved already 🙂

  6. Glad to hear everything is good! I find it hilarious that you described it as cold-war era. . . even after giving birth in an Italian hospital I think if I had the option I might still say no even though they give great health care. BTW expect to wait like that at the 34 week appointment they make you do down in Pordenone for the epidural…I was the first sent there in over a year, shit happens lol.

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