I’m 24 weeks pregnant today, I just started writing my pregnancy journal because I think its worth sharing and I will be updating it every week. I don’t know what the future is holding. It has been identified as a high risk pregnancy because of my placenta and ugly stuff are on the table: still birth and premature labor. It’s easy to write. It makes me feel better. My heart is broken, I can’t stop crying and praying. I can’t wait for this nightmare to be over. I hope my story will have a happy ending.
Chapter 1: The Triple Test
It all started when I was 20 weeks pregnant and took the triple test. The day before I had my triple test , (briefly the purpose of the test isn’t to diagnose a problem; they only signal that further testing should be done) I called my mom and told her that I had a feeling I will deliver earlier and that I wanted to ask my gyno if he could treat me as a high-risk patient and I had no idea whatsoever where this feeling came from!! I had the easiest pregnancy with Toufic! Did I jinx my pregnancy? Maybe !! Two days later I receive a call from my doctor Fadi Mirza asking me to visit him the next day early morning… He explained that I had an abnormally elevated AFP level in my blood. Although an AFP level doesn’t mean my baby is not ok but such an elevated level is scary! In my case, it was ABNORMALLY high no one has ever seen something like that! A High AFP level could have three explanations: 1) Baby has a neural tube defect, 2) mom has liver or ovarian cancer and 3) A bad placenta that would just stop doing its job anytime which is feeding the baby! The three of them are catastrophic!
Chapter 2: Lab Rat
Ultrasound showed a normal baby with no neural tube defect but still further tests should be done. I knew my baby was ok. Dont ask me how I just knew it and told everyone around me that my baby was OK. I spent this month (from week 20 till week 24) doing ultrasounds (like 5 per week), blood tests, an MRI and an amniosynthesis. I didn’t sleep, I lost weight, I cried myself to sleep EVERY night. I prayed if anything was wrong, that it would be me but not my baby nor my placenta. I couldn’t imagine losing the baby because of my placenta. It was HELL. My tests were sent abroad and the results came back FINE! I didn’t have cancer and my baby was perfectly fine!!! Where was this AFP coming from? My stupid placenta. My Dr, Dr. Fadi Mirza who’s specialized in high risk pregnancies decided that we will be treating this case as a high risk pregnancy, and he will be seeing me every week. He didn’t stop here, he sent my file to his friend who’s the head of OB gyn in Harvard to check if he has seen anything like that because what he was dealing with was a first and extremely rare case. That’s why I love my doctor, because he cared and didn’t stop his research. His friend assured him that he had only 3 cases like mine, the babies and the moms did well but they didn’t make it past 34 weeks (8,5 months).
So at 24 weeks (early 6th month) after all results came back fine, I was left with the following options: I will either deliver early and my baby will need NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) or my baby won’t make it till delivery which is called still birth. UGLY!! We had to get to 32 weeks! The crying didn’t stop but I was grateful that my baby was ok and I had hope which kept me breathing.
Chapter 3: Family, My support system
The first time I went to do the amniosyntheses, I couldn’t! I was afraid to lose the baby. I cried, asked my doctor to stop and went back home. But I had to do it! We needed to know what was happening inside because we needed to be prepared! By now, you’re asking yourselves: what would she have done if the baby was not ok. Nothing, terminating my pregnancy wasn’t an option for me. Unfortunately it was for some, but I wouldn’t even let them finish their sentence trying to convince me! My baby is FINE! I know it!! I just wanted to be prepared for what’s coming. Since day one I told everyone around me that my baby was OK!! Going back to my family, they have been a huge support. They made me stronger. My mom was the strongest, she had one thing to say all this time: EVERYTHING WILL BE OK!
Chapter 4: Thank God I was in the Best Hands
Now that we are left with one explanation: My placenta might stop working any day so we had to check baby’s growth every Tuesday, every stupid Tuesday to make sure that placenta is still feeding her. Unfortunately, nothing else could be done. On Mondays we didn’t sleep. Once the baby stops growing, which means placenta stopped working, we had to deliver immediately before baby starvs. Theresearch never stopped. Again that’s what make Dr Fadi Mirza the best!! Every Tuesday, after his “everything looks perfect” we would sit for 10 minutes and discuss what’s coming and the expectations. I trusted my doctor and I believe this made everything easier he was confident about what he was doing, it assured me that I was in perfect hands! The best thing about him was that he cared! He was genuinely sad this was happening to me! He never lied to me or assured me when he shouldn’t. He made sure I was aware of EVERYTHING and answered all my questions. And that made me trust him more. I thank god everyday that he was my doctor! Things would have been different if it wasn’t for him. Yasmine, my friend who also had a miracle baby calls him Magic Fadi. We love you Doc.
Chapter 5: The worst days of my life
Our goal today is to reach 32 weeks. Delivering now (28 weeks) is too early. Baby will need NICU and alto of complications might happen. I couldn’t imagine leaving my baby in NICU. Am I too greedy? Yes. But I’m too weak! I couldn’t even imagine my baby with all the wires and feeding tubes. I need to take my mind off things. We’re planning a small getaway to Istanbul. My doctor thinks it would do me good as well. By now, everyone knows about my case. I have received sacred oil from mar Charbel, my grandmother sends me on a daily basis sayings from the Quran and friends of family are praying for me and by baby. Somedays I wake up feeling positive, other days I stay in bed and cry the whole day. I’m afraid to lose the baby. I’m afraid to deliver prematurely. I don’t want my baby to suffer. I’m afraid from the outcome of this pregnancy. But unfortunately nothing could be done. Just pray and stay positive. I’m trying my bet to enjoy my pregnancy and I am. I just feel down sometimes. I just wanna make it till my 32nd week.
Chapter 6:32 weeks
Getting till the 32nd week was a miracle but we did it! Yesterday, Sunday January the 14th marked my 32nd week! We were extremely happy to reach it… BUT something happened! While we were having dinner with friends I started feeling painful contractions that were getting closer and closer! I told my husband and asked him to leave immediately. We went to the delivery suite, where they put both the baby and the contraction monitors around my belly and unfortunately I was indeed having contractions every 10 minutes but I wasn’t in labor…yet… They examined my cervix and thank god we were still ok so they gave me a medication that stops the contractions (totally safe for the baby).
Today I am 32 weeks + 5 today (Sunday ill be 33), contractions are gone and nothing unusual! Our next target is 34 week!! Will I make it there? Let’s see!!
The closer we get to 36 weeks the less time baby will spend in NICU. I’m really grateful. But cant get stillbirth out of my mind. The idea terrifies me. I have a new addiction: Monitoring baby’s kicks. Although I’m monitoring the baby every week, I just cant take it out of my mind.
Chapter 7: 34 weeks
Today I reached 34th week of my pregnancy!! Baby is fully developed! Brain and respiratory system matured. I couldn’t be happier!! I thank god every second! I feel extremely lucky! The 3 women who had my case, delivered at 34 weeks. No one lasted longer. Let’s see my case!
Chapter 8: 35 weeks
We’re getting there! We still have one more week. As I have already mentioned, my Dr wants to induce at 36 weeks + 1 day which is Feb 12th. I’m extremely worried about the induction!
I don’t wanna end up with a C section and I’m afraid from the whole process. It’s new to me. Will my baby be ok? Will she need NICU? I can’t see her there, I can’t imagine her with wires, ugly pictures are popping out in my head ! Will she make it till Monday? Is it too good to be true? Will everything be ok after all the ugly things we have been through? I used to love getting pregnant! I enjoyed my pregnancy with Toufic and the first 20 weeks with Nouni. I hate it now. I’m afraid to ever get pregnant again and have to go through the same.
Chapter 9: 36 weeks
Today, Sunday 11th of Feb marks my 36th week, tomorrow I deliver.
Chapter 10: Welcome Baby Nouni
On Monday, February 12, I woke up with a huge smile on my face but also tears in my eyes. I was afraid. My mom and I arrived to AUBMC at 6 am. I was induced at 8 am. I was positive that day. I was positive I was going to have a natural delivery just like Toufic. First, I dont know what’s the reason behind this, but in both my deliveries, the epidural didn’t work!! I was in excruating pain. The contractions were getting closer and stronger. At 12 exactly something ugly happened. I had a strong contraction that wouldn’t let go and caused my baby’s heart rate to drop from 160 to 80! Within seconds, a team of 10 doctors, residents and nurses were next to me injecting me and trying to get my baby’s heart rate back to normal by releasing the stupid contraction. I couldn’t breath anymore, I had a panick attack and started shivering and crying but couldn’t talk. I looked at Karim and Moms face, they were yellow. But Whithin seconds also, everything was back to normal but I wasn’t. I couldn’t stop crying, I was afraid it would happen again and Karim started convincing me to have a C section. It was safer for the baby and me. But I didn’t know anything about C section and from what I’ve heard from people, a Baby born via C section has higher chances to be admitted to NICU. In addition, a Normal delivery is better especially that my baby was born a bit early. (That was back then, but now I wish I listened to my husband and had a C section at 12!!) Anyway I decided to wait, but my cervix failed me again. 5 F****** cm, for 6 hours! At 6pm, Dr Fadi decided it was time to get the baby out via a C section. I cried a lot and acted as if I was going to die (stupid me). I was shivering while they prepared me and while waiting for Karim to enter the OR, Dr Fadi sat next to me reassuring me and trying to calm me. I remember I was praying all this time for my baby to be ok, for her not to be admitted to NICU. At 6:12 pm, baby Nouni was born. “Welcome to the world baby Nouni” (Yes Dr Fadi also calls her Nouni) “She’s perfect Mira” “Shes so pink” said one of the doctors “She doesn’t need NICU” “Babe she looks like Toufic” said Karim “Babe, she’s amazing”. I directly stopped crying, I felt a huge relief. One of the nurses held her next to my face, it was like I gave birth to another babyT!!! She looked exactly like him. The tiniest I have ever seen and held. The cutest, my baby girl, my miracle baby. Finally she’s here and safe with me.
I still wake up some days asking myself what happened? Why did I go through this during my pregnancy? And then I remember how blessed I am! I thank god everything ended up just fine and I got to see and hold my baby girl.
We still don’t know what was the exact reason behind this AFP level but as per Dr Fadi, it was an UGLY placenta. I don’t want to know what was wrong with it. I’m forever grateful because whatever was wrong with it, it fed my baby till the 36th week.
Thank you ugly Placenta.
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