Today was our first appointment at the office of maternal-fetal medicine (Spectrum Health Blodgett Campus, Grand Rapids, MI). The hospital was HUGE and it took us awhile to find the actual office, but everything went well from the moment we stepped into the door.
First, we met with a geneticist who went over our family history, explained the different things the doctors were looking for, explained the possible suspected birth defect(s), discussed an amniocentesis, and answered all of our questions. She was thorough, kind, and extremely helpful.
Next, we had our Level II and 4D ultrasound, where an ultrasound technician took the time to carefully inspect every single organ, bone, and part of the baby's body (measuring and looking for birth defects).
As it turns out, our baby DOES NOT have an omphalocele. He/she actually has Gastroschisis, which is a similiar birth defect that is often confused with omphalocele early on. Gastroschisis is a birth defect in which an infant's intestines stick out of the body through a defect (hole) on one side of the umbilical cord. Unlike in an omphalocele, there is no protective membrane, and no other organs are involved.
THE WONDERFUL NEWS is that Gastroschisis is almost always an isolated problem- there are very rarely any other related birth defects or chromosomal problems. In fact, the doctor said there was less than 1% chance that this baby would have chromosomal anomalies, so we decided not to have the amniocentesis after all. The doctor didn't think it was neccessary OR worth the risk (1 out of every 300 amnios result in miscarriage).
Gastroschisis babies tend to be very small, and many are under the 10th growth percentile. This, combined with surgery recovery, often means that these babies spend an average of 2-3 months in the hospital after birth. The babies cannot go home until they are of healthy weight and can eat and pass bowel movements on their own. Although this is a little longer than I'd expected, I was prepared for this baby to have a pretty lengthy stay in the NICU, so it wasn't too much of a shock.
The doctor seems to be leaning towards a regular vaginal birth for this baby, after an induction. It still may be neccessary, however, to have a C-Section. We will know more as the baby progresses.
As of right now, we know that the baby is completely healthy and normal, other than the gastroschisis. Peanut weighs 7 ounces and had a heartbeat of 148 bpm. The only concern is that he/she is already measuring a little over a week behind. I am 18 weeks and 6 days pregnant, but the baby is only measuring at 17 weeks and 4 days. I will continue to see the specialists in GR for Level II and 3D ultrasounds every four weeks, as well as having my regular OB appointments. Once I'm a little further in the pregnancy, I will meet with pediatric surgeons and create a plan for this baby.
Over all, the news is good. Peanut is on the small side, with some bowel outside of the body, but otherwise healthy (and stubborn!). We were not able to find out the gender today, because the bowel was hanging down between the legs and covering what we needed to see. It looks like this one may be a surprise after all. Oh, the suspense!!
It was so wonderful to get to see our baby again, especially in 3D. We got to watch Peanut play with his/her toes, but otherwise he/she was very sleepy and stubborn. Even though the ultrasound technician basically had me standing on my head on the table, the baby refused to uncurl itself until he really wanted to, which made taking the measurments difficult. Little stinker!