A second pregnancy is different from a first in so many ways. The aches and pains that once caused panic are familiar, the way your body begins to change isn’t as foreign as it once felt. Doctors visits and scans are now routine and predictable. So when my husband and I went to our 20 week anatomy scan, we knew we would be getting to see our little girl and we would be getting to see just how she was developing. After our ultrasound technician took all of her pictures, we waited for our doctor to come in and review what she had seen. I remember thinking; oh no, she needs to tell us something. She didn’t start the conversation with “Well everything looks great here, so…” I immediately felt my heart race as she sat down and got right to work, having me move a bit to the right, lay on my side, etc.
She asked us to look at the right kidney on the screen. It was bright and should be dark. She asked me to get dressed and meet her in her office. Thankfully we have one of the best perinatologists around and the moment she began to speak I began to cry. I cried when she shared what this abnormality could mean. I cried when she told me the worse case scenario, that this could be connected to a syndrome and could lead to other complications, I cried when she told me we wouldn’t know what was going on until she was born. I cried when she said an amnio could be done to answer these questions. I know an amnio is quite controversial and people have many opinions about them, but it’s a personal decision and it’s not an easy one to make. I needed to know what was going on with our little girl and knew I couldn’t walk through 20 more weeks of pregnancy without knowing. I needed to be as prepared as possible.
I booked our appointment for the following morning. The procedure itself was painless, but emotionally draining and I left with no answers. The test results from the amnio come back in three steps over the course of three weeks. They were the longest, most difficult three weeks of my life. I had never been so thankful for my family, friends and a toddler. We ended up finding out that her kidney disease was not connected to a syndrome and was an isolated issue. Her diagnosis: multisystic kidney dysplasia. The remainder of my pregnancy was followed by many, many ultrasounds to monitor the development and growth of her cystic kidney.
The moment we learned about her kidney condition, I began to change my mindset. I began to think how lucky we were that this was an isolated issue, that the condition was not bilateral and that we were under the care of amazing and very patient doctors. We were set up with a pediatric nephrologist in New York City who met with us when I was around 30 weeks pregnant. She spent almost 2 hours with us drawing pictures and explaining what we should expect when our little girl would arrive. She told us that we should expect to see the multicystic kidney disappear at or around delivery. I was shocked, I remember thinking I wanted her to have both, even if one didn’t work as well. She reassured us that having it involute was optimal. By the time I was 36 weeks pregnant, the ultrasound technician could not see her cystic kidney at all via ultrasound. I felt a strange sense of calm when our doctor showed us the black space where her kidney once lived. I was happy to hear her body rid itself of the cystic kidney.
I remember thinking okay, I’m ready, let’s get this baby here. At 39 weeks and 1 day, I gave my toddler her bath, tucked her in bed and sat down to eat dinner with my husband. At 8:30 pm I began to have some contractions, they were consistent and somewhat painful. Every ten minutes they would come and go. By 9:30 pm, I was in some pain and decided we should go right to the hospital. I delivered pretty quickly with my first and had heard horror stories of not getting to the hospital in time. I was in labor and knew I needed to get to the hospital fast.
After getting checked in and getting wheeled in to labor and delivery, I was checked. 6 cms. and no doctor in sight. The hospital assured me the doctor on call would be with me shortly. I wanted my epidural and began to shake thanks to the painful contractions that were now coming and going quickly. When the doctor on call got to the hospital and in to my room to check on me, I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Never had I been happier to see someone. She checked me and I was at 8cm. It was only 10:00 pm. About twenty minutes later, I got my epidural. Very soon after, I felt the need to push and the doctor came in and agreed I was ready to go. This time, even with the epidural I had intense pressure and was able to guide the pushing. Within 20 minutes, our little girl had arrived. 11:15 pm, 8 pounds 2 oz. and 21 inches long.
After only an hour and forty five minutes! She was here. I remember holding her for the very first time, I remember thinking that throughout this entire experience I just wanted to hold her, to tell her that everything would be okay. Finally being able to do that for the first time was overwhelming. We named her Valentina Grayce. Valentina means strong and healthy and held lots of meaning for my husband and I. Valentina had a VCUG done the morning after birth which lets us know if she has any reflux of urine in her kidney. Thankfully she doesn’t and after our first visit at the children’s hospital we have learned that her kidney has already begun to take on the role of two and is larger in size. We know we will need to monitor her kidney for the rest of her life and we know there may be some restrictions, but we also know that she is perfect. She is happy and healthy and has truly changed my life. She has already taught me so much about myself.