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Thursday, October 4, 2012


We went in for a follow-up ultrasound to check on Quinn’s heart and kidneys and to make sure there were no other red flags. While one of his kidneys is still dilated, his heart looks great, which is good news. The bad news is that they found white spots/calcifications on his stomach and liver. The doctor (not our OBGYN, but a specialist in Maternal Fetal Medicine) said it could be a result of a viral infection, but told us it’s probably related to Down syndrome. Either way, she encouraged me to get tested for infection and dodged my questions about worse-case scenarios. She left us feeling  more than a little shaken up with her awkward bedside manner. We assumed she was hiding something from us and waiting for our regular OB/GYN to share the bad news with us. This was at the end of the day, so naturally our regular doctor would learn nothing about the appointment until today.

Enter Dr. Google. After much research, I learned that these calcifications are not especially common in babies with Down syndrome and often point to a larger problem. In our case, we’re most worried about CMV, a virus that causes birth defects and even death if transferred prenatally. It’s common in daycare centers and rarely causes symptoms in healthy adults, pregnant or not. Toddlers who contract the disease show mild flu-like symptoms, identical to what Atticus has had the past few weeks. We assumed it was a string of colds since it’s his first foray into the world of germy daycares, but now we’re not so sure. We worried and stressed and fretted all night, assuming the worst. There’s no treatment in utero or any way to know how strongly he would be affected, so we're naturally scared for our little guy. We know that he’s at a greater risk for health problems as a result of his Down syndrome, so we worry about his ability to recover from something so catastrophic. C'MON universe! Two serious sources of birth defects? Really? The past 24 hours have been absolute hell.

But my regular OB/GYN just called to calm my fears. She knew instinctively how worried we must be and let me know that the doctor we saw during yesterday's ultrasound has been known to terrify expectant moms with a pretty crappy bedside manner. She said my experience as a teacher, nanny, and daycare worker means I've very likely already contracted CMV before and my body is therefore immune. This means there's very little chance of passing it on to Quinn, even if Atticus had/has it. She said while the calcifications are not necessarily common in cases of Ds, it does happen and is likely the reason for their presence. Also, she reminded us that we should be celebrating the fact that Quinn's heart still looks great, which should not to be taken for granted. This is excellent news.

This is not to say that we're out of the woods. There will be more tests, more worries, and more complications as the weeks go by. The calcifications could be a sign of something more serious, but our doctor feels that this is unlikely, making further testing for this issue unnecessary and invasive. So for now we're feeling loads better than we did last night and ready to celebrate the small victories, like a healthy heart and the reality that Down syndrome is not the worst-case scenario.

We have a baby coming, y'all. And he's gonna be adorable...