Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm no expert

The other day, someone asked me why I was posting all this personal stuff on the blog.  I am not all that great at thinking on my feet, so I mumbled some response about sharing our story with other people.  That individual made a good point though, since we are dealing with some heavy issues and by posting them on the blog, I went ahead and made them public news...well, "public" for my blog anyway.  I suppose we could keep our experiences a secret, but the way that I am looking at it, for now at least, is if I can offer a tiny tidbit of information to someone else who may be wrapping their head around antibodies, for example, then I suppose it is worth it.  Not that I am saying, of course, that my measly little posts should be the go-to sources for information concerning any of my topics.  From antibodies to ligers, there is probably someone out there who knows more than me.  So please seek the advice of your doctor (or your local liger expert).

My liger expert.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Blood Antibodies and Pregnancy, anti-Jka and anti-c

As I was saying, in late 2007 we found out that in addition to the anti-JKa antibodies, I also had anti-C antibodies (also known as "little c antibody") floating around my system.  As is the case with the anti-JKa, the anti-C poses no problem unless you are pregnant with a child that possesses the antigens for those particular antibodies.  Since we were not pregnant immediately after bringing Lauren home, we did not think too much of it - just filed it away in the backs of our minds.

Flashforward to present day and now we have two antibodies to fret about.  My new OB has me on the same plan that we followed in Kentucky.  At every appointment I will undergo a ritual bloodletting, which will be used to measure the antibodies in my system.  If the levels stay low, then we are in the clear until the next appointment.  If the levels begin to increase, then I will have to come in to discuss the options, though I am not exactly sure how high these levels need to be before we take any action.  As far as I can tell, the anti-C operates in the same manner as the anti-JKa; however, the anti-C is in the Rhesus blood group system, whereas the anti-JKa is in the Kidd group.  Again, my "biology for non-majors" background is not too helpful right about now, so I am not entirely sure if one is "worse" than the other, though I am fairly confident that neither are awesome to have.  With this pregnancy, I have had two titers so far and both results have come back at low/minimal levels - hopefully we can keep this up through September!

M & L in February 2009.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blood Antibodies and Pregnancy, anti-Jka

Midway through my first trimester with L, my OB informed me that my routine blood tests  reported a positive antibody titer.  She determined that I was carrying the anti-Jka antibody.  Since I did not test positive for this when I was pregnant with M and I had not had a blood transfusion since he was born, we determined that the antibodies in my blood probably came from M's blood mixing with mine during his delivery.  I am no scientist, but from what I gather, Steve passed to M a blood component that was "normal" in him, but "foreign" to my body.  When M's blood somehow infiltrated mine, it made my body think that it should build a defense against this component just in case it should ever encounter this particular creature again.  

Now that I was pregnant a second time, those antibodies became an issue as they could potentially recognize this foreign blood in the baby that I was carrying, and attack.  Eventually this could result in hemolytic disease of the newborn.  My anti-Jka antibodies, which target antigens in the Kidd blood group, can travel across the placenta and attack the fetus's red blood cells if it happens to be carrying components of the Kidd blood group.  Over time, this can result in severe anemia and ultimately multi-organ failure in the baby.  The good news was that if the baby could be born without my antibodies attacking, meaning the baby was not carrying the antigens, then there was no further risk to the child.  This was strictly a problem in utero.

When my doctor was explaining all of this to me, I kept flashing back to what I had briefly read about the Rh sensitization and I knew, or I thought I knew, that there was some sort of shot, or something, that was able to help women who were dealing with that.  I asked my OB and she gently told us that there was nothing we could do about the antibodies except undergo regular blood tests to monitor their levels.  As long as they stayed low, then all was well.  Should my antibody levels start to rise, then that would be an indicator that teeny tiny baby L carried the offensive antigens.  If that happened, my OB would conduct further blood tests to confirm fetal anemia and in the worst-case scenario teeny tiny Baby L would have to undergo an intrauterine blood transfusion or she would undergo transfusions in the newborn period depending on far along in my pregnancy I was.

Naturally, this was all ridiculously impossible to wrap my head around.  Antibodies?  Antigens?  Kidd blood group??  Why didn't I pay more attention in "biology for non-majors" in undergrad?  Of course I went to the internet and I did not find much - either complicated, medical-jargon heavy articles or other moms in my position posting questions on assorted forums.  I found stories with happy endings and stories with tragic endings.  Eventually, I made myself stop scouring the internet and I trusted what my doctor said.  At every appointment, I surrendered a vial of blood and waited for the nurse to call me with the news.

Fortunately, throughout the duration of my pregnancy, my antibody levels remained at safe levels and L was born, as scheduled, on 16 July 2007.  She was born with high billirubin levels and had to be admitted to Kentucky Children's Hospital for a one-night stay where she got to sleep under a special light machine.  Whether or not the antibodies contributed to L's jaundice is debatable.  My antibody levels remained low and she had a mild case of jaundice, but I'm not sure if they would be able to make a significant link between the two.  To be honest, once she was born, we kind of forgot about the antibody business until I received confirmation from my OB that in addition to the anti-Jka antibody that I developed from M, during the course of L's delivery the same scenario had happened and now I had the anti-C antibody (little c antibody).  But more on that later...

30 July 2007

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pssst! It's top secret, kiddos.

It all began on Friday, February 11th, when Steve and I took the kids with us to Babies R Us to look at a new car seat for Lauren.  Steve and I knew that if we wanted any chance of fitting all three car seats in the second row of our car, we would need a slimmer, trimmer car seat for L, since the one she is in now is a behemoth.  While Steve and I were debating between two models, we gave M and L some tasks to keep them occupied.  We told them to pick out some bibs and sippy cups just in case we had any baby visitors.  M & L were so cute and generous with their selections, that I knew they would be so excited to find out that we were actually expecting a little one of our own in September.  Later on that evening, we told the kids and they were quite excited.  We ended up telling them a littler earlier than we had planned, but I just couldn't keep the secret from them any longer.  Of course, we swore them to secrecy - explaining that this would be a special family secret for just the four of us.  The kids were totally on board with that and even promised not to tell anyone.

On Saturday, February 12th, barely 12 hours later mind you, my parents came over to watch M's basketball game.  They were barely in the house for a nanosecond before M spilled the beans.  He was quite adamant about it and clearly very excited.  At first I downplayed his declarations with comments like, "Oh, you mean L is getting a new baby DOLL."  But this went on for hours and M was becoming quite confused and even a little sad - thinking that we were not actually going to be having a baby.  So over lunch, when M brought it up yet again, I caved and confirmed M's story.  There was happiness all around.
You know, a baby doll.  Get on board with the secret, M.
The moral?  If you need to keep a secret, be sure NOT to tell my kids.  They're lousy at keeping secrets.  I mean, they are 5 and 3, so this should not come as a huge surprise, but still.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Triple Whammy!

Come September, we'll be outnumbered.  That's right, Steve and I are expecting another little bundle of joy!  Both M and L were born in the horse capital of the world, Lexington, Kentucky.  With two wildcats running amok down here, perhaps a longhorn will help control the chaos.

Standard hospital picture of M, taken on his second day on the planet - 8/4/05.

Similar picture of L, taken 7/17/07.  (She's a yellow bean here, because she had jaundice.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow Day in Texas

When I went to bed last night, I kind of figured that the kids would not have school today, and sure enough after a night of fitful sleep (due to the sound of sleet hitting the windows), I woke up at 5:00am to find that M didn't have school today.  I turned off my alarms and snuggled back in to bed and sure enough...not even 10 minutes later, M was in our room.  He was up and ready to go.  So much for sleeping in on a snow day.

After living in Ohio and Kentucky for a while, I'm not all that amazed by snow.  The kids, however, were harping on me incessantly all morning to go out and play in the snow.  I'm not sure what they thought it was going to be, but I tried to explain to them the difference between full-on snow and the weird sleet-ice-trace-amount-of-snow combination that we had going on.  In any case, I made them eat lunch first and then we went outside to explore the winter wonderland.

Snow Eater Extraordinaire 
Ice Stomper Extraordinaire

Looking for more snow to eat.

A bright sunshiny snow day!

Snow ball fight!

February 1, 2011

July 16, 2010