After the diagnosis: pregnancy and birth

I had tried to bring some kind of balance into my life: The cancer diagnosis was something to worry about and the pregnancy was completely normal. That was how it seemed to be at the beginning. Only a month after I had been given my prognosis, it changed, though. Suddenly, the pregnancy was a concern as well.(What happened before?)

My obstetrician told me that I had only one umbilical artery – two are standard. Although he had asked me not to google this anomaly, I did, because he mentioned that it could be an indicator of a handicap. How could I resist to investigate? I read all about potential handicaps, was I was not too worried, as he has assured me the risk was only minimal.

Two months later, when I had my first ultrasound scan (already in Spain, because we had moved in the meantime). I had brought my whole family with me. After the initial shock, I had enjoyed the second part of my pregnancy so much. I had not even minded the heat in Southern Spain during the summer – I was one of the few pregnant women trying to dance Flamenco at 40 degrees Celsius/ 1040 Fahrenheit.

My three older children were sitting there excitedly when the doctor showed us what was going on in my womb. My husband held my hand. After a while, he called two more doctors. The all had a look at the baby’s heart and started whispering. I was getting worried. The children were getting impatient. All over a sudden, the doctors told me that they thought something was wrong with the heart structure. There seemed to be quite a few holes in the heart and we needed to check with a cardiologist specialized in fetus scans.

The children were shocked and extremely sad. We could not believe what we had just heard. In a few weeks, I was going to give birth. The heart was beating! What was wrong? The doctors gave me a list of diseases that could cause those holes. It was frightening to read about them.

I had just been diagnosed with cancer – how would I be able to care for a handicapped baby and three other children?

I got an appointment with the cardiologist two weeks later. Those weeks seemed like an eternity. He checked everything thoroughly and decided everything was alright.

When I gave birth in October 2015, my baby had a little hole in the heart which closed after a week. My son was a lightweight, because his umbilical cord developed a knot when he had moved through a loop. In the end, he could not get enough nutrition, but he compensated after his birth and grew quickly.

He is one and a half years old now, very charming, curious and very adventurous. We baptized him “Vito” which means “Life”. It seemed to be an adequate name after all the troubles during his pregnancy.

 

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