“Have you had any bleeding?” the sonographer asked.
This doesn’t sound good, I thought. It was my 20-week ultrasound, and my husband, sister Heidi and I had just learned I was carrying a girl. My first daughter!
“No,” I said. “Why?”
“Well . . . it looks like you have a placenta previa.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“It’s when your placenta covers part of your cervix.” (The placenta is the organ that grows inside the womb. It’s sends all the nutrient and oxygen-rich blood through the umbilical cord to the baby. The cervix is the baby’s exit door. Placenta previa is when the baby’s lifeline covers their exit door.)
“What does it mean?” I asked.
“Well . . .” she hesitated. “It means you might need a C-section. The doctor will explain more.”
“Okay,” I said. That didn’t sound so bad. I didn’t really want a C-section, but I didn’t really want to go through labor again either!
The ultrasound concluded and we waited to meet with the Obstetrician. She spoke very calmly and kindly: “Often, this resolves. As the uterus grows during the pregnancy, the placenta often migrates up and away from the cervix. Sometimes a previa is partial, where the cervix is partially covered. Those are more likely to resolve. Yours is a complete previa, so your cervix is fully covered.”
“Okay,” I said.
“The risk here is excessive bleeding from the placenta,” she continued. “Babies can asphyxiate in the womb due to excessive blood loss. This also increases your risk for blood transfusions. Sometimes we deliver the baby early if there is a lot of bleeding, but it depends on how far along you are. Most babies who make it to 34 weeks won’t suffer neurological damage. But again, this often resolves. We’ll do another ultrasound at 30 weeks to see where this is at. If you have any bleeding, let us know.”
I could tell she didn’t want to upset me, and I held it together for awhile. But when we arrived back at my mom’s house to pick up our son, I sat in the car and started crying. “It almost feels like I shouldn’t get attached to her,” I cried. “But it’s too late! I already am!”
David and I talked and prayed together, and then we went inside and showed our son a picture of his baby sister. I wanted to focus on the happy news of carrying a daughter, but was struggling. I didn’t care about labor or C-sections with “asphyxiate in the womb,” “blood transfusions” and “neurological damage” stuck in my head. I just wanted my baby to be okay.
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