a cord of three strands

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December 19, 2012 by Heather

I have the tendency to become rather reflective on occasion, a trait that I’m sure drives Andrew absolutely nuts.  I do a lot of “remember what we were doing on this day last year?” kind of stuff, and more times than not he will give me a confused look and do his coming-up-with-an-answer face until I excitedly tell him exactly what it was we were doing.

One year ago this afternoon we found out we would be having a little boy.  A few days later I wrote this post about what we did that day.  I went back and read it this weekend and sat there for a long time after finishing.

See, not only did we find out our baby’s gender that day, we also were told some pretty scary news that I’ve mentioned once on here before, in this post.

I wore my favorite shirt that day.  A soft, cream colored shirt with black stripes and a little pocket on the front.  It made me look more pregnant that what I was, which I liked.  I raised it proudly in the ultrasound room, more than ready to find out everything we could about our baby.  I couldn’t wait to know the gender.  Andrew sat next to me, excited and nervous, mainly just wanting to know if the baby had all its fingers and toes.

The ultrasound tech was really nice.  “It’s a BOY,” she said as she pointed to his tiny ding-a-ling on the screen.  She took a lot of still shots and zoomed in on certain areas more frequently than others, which I didn’t really even notice until later.  She said everything was perfect and that he looked great.

We were scheduled to see a midwife that day, something I had requested because I was curious to see the difference between our ob-gyn and her.  She came into the exam room to explain the ultrasound stuff to us, and I thought she was so cool.  She went on to tell us that the baby’s umbilical cord was a little… off, quite literally.  “It’s called a Velamentous Cord Insertion, and it only happens in about 1% of single-baby pregnancies.”  I immediately began to freak and my armpits started sweating bullets, as usual.  She explained more about it and then tried to draw a picture of it to help us better understand what it looked like.  Since midwives typically deal with totally normal pregnancies, she was not super familiar with it.

A velamentous cord insertion is where the umbilical cord is not attached to the placenta in the right spot.  In fact, it’s not really even attached at all.  It is connected to the placenta by three veins on the end as opposed to being flush against it in the center.  The placenta is where the baby gets all of his nutrition from, by way of the umbilical cord.  Basically, our baby was going to have a tough time getting the goods.

It scared me so much to hear all of that.  I just cried and cried.  Then I googled it when I got back to work and cried some more.

When we moved back to Arkansas and I called to schedule an appointment with a doctor there, I was surprised when they put me with a high risk ob-gyn.  She ended up being absolutely wonderful.  She had never seen a velamentous cord insertion before, and at every ultrasound she was kind of obsessed with finding out if that was really what it was.

Parker was born at a teaching hospital, so there were lots of people in the operating room when I had my c-section.  After they pulled him out, they removed the placenta and I remember turning my head and seeing a small crowd forming around the container that they put it in.  Three of them were taking pictures with their cell phones, I’m not even kidding.  I sort of yelled over to them asking if it was indeed velamentous and one of the nurses said, “Yep!  Wanna see it?”  My first response was no, but then I decided that maybe I should face the blob that had successfully nourished my child for 9 months against all odds.

It looked like a piece of raw beef, which was pretty gross, but there on the end dangling by three small veins was the umbilical cord that I had been praying for ever since that midwife scared my pants off.

I’m not really sure where this story is going.  I guess I just wanted to type it all out for posterity’s sake, in true reflective fashion.  It’s just neat to know that exactly one year ago I was so worried about the fate of the baby growing inside of me, and now he is here and perfectly healthy, napping in his crib.  And I am so, so grateful for that.
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