Breaking Bad News: Part 1
You're glowing, you're healthy, you've done everything "right", but somehow things are taking a turn for the worse.
Not too long after my 20 week ultrasound, showing a spot on the baby's kidneys, I nervously waited to find out what exactly this "spot" was. My husband, Chris, and I arrived to our appointment in the High Risk office at the Woman and Child center at the Hospital where I would be giving birth. My blood pressure was so high, the doctor was worried about me, but the nurse reassured him that I was probably nervous (true), and she'd repeat the reading after waiting a bit (don't think that's gonna help too much).
We stare like deer in the headlights at what the doctor is showing us to be our baby's left kidney, but looks more like a honeycomb on the screen. It was completely replaced with cysts, and a diagnosis would have to wait until the baby was born.
"Well, you only need one," the doctor reassured us. (Luckily, we were forewarned that this doctor had sub par bedside manners, but he's supposed to be one of the best.)
"Kidney cysts in newborns" I type into the Google search bar immediately upon arriving home. Bad idea. VERY BAD IDEA. I spend the next few hours sobbing upon learning the prognosis of newborns born with polycystic kidney disease. Enlarged, cyst filled kidneys push up on the lungs making breathing impossible and allowing only a few short hours of life, if that. I'm halfway through this pregnancy, and I might come home empty-handed?! My mind races, and I spiral into a very quick and very deep depression. My whole life changed in that instant. I felt so helpless, knowing there was absolutely nothing I could do to help my sick, unborn child. And on top of that, I would need to deliver the news to my family who was eagerly awaiting this baby's arrival -- there was no way I could make it through another 20 weeks pretending like everything was going great.
How do you tell everyone who is so excited for you, that you are now cautiously optimistic about your pregnancy? How do you be cautiously optimistic about your pregnancy? Do I detach myself emotionally so I don't get too hurt? Do I sulk around depressed for the next 20 weeks? I've never been in such unfamiliar territory.
The next morning I woke up to a revelation. If the only life this baby was going to have was inside my belly, I was going to make it a good one. With that, I got to work writing the first letter of many "Baby E Updates" that went out to close family and friends. They turned out to be very helpful in processing all the medical information I was getting, in allowing me to have a sense of control, and in helping me to remember the seemeingly never ending medical isssues that kept presenting themselves. I guess you could say that this blog is a continuation of these updates.
I know that this approach may not work for everyone, but it definitely worked for us. I hope that some of you may look at these Updates as templates for writing about your own scenarios, whether you plan on sharing them with others or just using them as documentation for personal use.