All three of my pregnancies were unplanned and I was shocked each time I held a positive pregnancy stick in my hand. But my last pregnancy was the biggest surprise out of all three.
At eight weeks pregnant I had a sonogram to confirm the pregnancy and there on that black and white screen I fell in love for the third time with my little baby. Everything looked great and I was on a regular routine pregnancy schedule.
On my 31st birthday I had a gender reveal and learned I was having another baby girl! She was the first baby we found out the gender. I knew in my heart she would be my last baby and I thought it would be fun to change it up a bit.
At my next ultrasound the technician said that my baby girl had a single umbilical artery. She said it was no big deal because everything else looked great and my blood work was all normal.
So what is single umbilical artery? In a normal umbilical cord there are two arteries and one vein. However, with a single umbilical artery (SUA) there is one artery and one vein. The one artery had to be both the supply-and-waste line that connected me with my baby.
When I saw my doctor and she confirmed the SUA and reassured me it was nothing to be concerned about. My doctor said every month I would have an ultrasound to ensure that my baby girl was growing on schedule. She said the greatest concern was that sometimes SUA babies are small, but that in most cases these babies are healthy.
I called my husband and told him the news. I wasn’t worried at all and neither was he. If there was something to be concerned about my doctor would have told me and ordered more tests. Then I went home and did the unthinkable. I visited Dr. Google.
The only reason I visited Dr. Google was to see if I needed to increase my protein intake to make sure my baby girl was growing and thriving. Instead I learned that my baby girl was likely going to have:
- Cardiac, skeletal, intestinal or renal problems.
- Congenital abnormalities, especially of the heart
- Edwards Syndrome
- Down Syndrome
Wait, what? My doctor promised me that my baby was okay and I had nothing to worry about. I spent endless hours searching for happy SUA stories to confirm what my doctor told me. In the end I convinced myself that my baby girl was going to be okay, but the doubt never fully left my mind.
At my final ultrasound we discovered that my baby was growing on schedule and was thriving. Yay! However, she was breech and according to Dr. Google that meant my baby had:
- Down Syndrome
- Hip dysplasia
- Congenital anomalies
And now I was back to feeling defeated and scared. I tried everything to get my baby to flip: moxibustion by burning herbs around my toes, laying upside down on an ironing board twice a day, acupuncture, chiropractic care, even an external rotation of the baby by my doctor. You name it, I tired it. She wouldn’t flip and I had to have a c-section after two successful vaginal deliveries.
The night before my scheduled c-section I was scared to death. I wasn’t afraid of the surgery. The c-section was the least of my worries. My mind was filled with the fear of how the world would treat my possibly special needs child.
I have a cousin with down syndrome and she is the most beautiful, kind and loving person I’ve ever known. I wasn’t worried about loving a disabled child, but how other people would treat her. Who would take care of her when my time had passed? Would she know how much I loved her? Would she lead a normal life? As all these thoughts filled my mind, I cried myself to sleep worrying about the unknown.
And now was the moment of truth. As lay on the operating table I began to crack jokes to ease the fear in my mind and in my husband’s eyes. In a matter of moments my baby girl was born. When I heard her first cry, tears began streaming down my face and I cried out, “Is she healthy? Is she okay?”
“Your daughter is as healthy as can be!” said the pediatric nurse who gave her a nine on the apgar score. And my baby who we were concerned would be little because of her SUA turned out to be eight pounds three ounces and 21 inches long! She weighed more than my son did at birth.
I’m sharing my story for fellow desperate mothers who’ve discovered their baby has a single umbilical artery or is breech. Trust your doctor. If he or she says not to worry, don’t. Enjoy your pregnancy and embrace every little movement of your growing and developing baby.
My beautiful SUA baby turns one-year-old next week and her first year of life has flown by. My love for her is beyond words and she has brought so much joy into my life.
Stay strong mamas.