Matters of the Heart

My EKG

Oliver and I have known for some time that I am a genetic carrier for a familial heart condition. It had been a non-issue until we became pregnant. Apparently this heart condition LOVES pregnancy because of all the extra fluid you carry around. However, with all of that extra fluid, heart failure during and after labor is a higher possibility. If I had developed the condition since last tested at age 20, I needed to know. This would then label me as a “high risk pregnancy”. On July 5th I went to Stanford’s Cardiology Department to have my heart checked out. Oliver and I really went into this putting it all in God’s hands. If we’ve learned (and continue to learn) anything through all of this, it is that this baby is NOT ours, nor do we have ANY control over what happens. It is all in God’s hands, in His control.

The day was long (5 hours in the hospital) and full of tests. First I had an echo, which was relatively easy. I say “relatively” because they put you in a dimly lit room, laying on your side, under a warm blanket … it was impossible to stay awake. And by impossible, I mean I MAY HAVE fallen asleep a few times. *smile*  Thankfully I had an understanding tech …

After the echo I went back to the cardiology department to get an EKG. The medical assistant doing the EKG was getting very strange readings and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. It was my mom who finally said “wait… is that the baby’s heartbeat??” She was right – the machine was picking up squishy, which was messing with the readings of my heart! It was like a nice little “hi mom! I’m still here!” from the squish.

After the EKG I was seen by a resident, a visiting cardiologist from Italy, my actual cardiologist and a geneticist. Going through my case history, I apparently had all of the symptoms of the heart condition – shortness of breath (I have asthma), chest pains (I have acid reflux), heart murmur. They listened to my heart while sitting, taking deep breaths, and doing squats – it was quite the three ring circus doing this with ALL of those eyes watching you.

The geneticist went through all of the information we needed to know to protect the baby. She offered to do the genetic testing before the baby arrives, but Oliver and I turned that down. It wouldn’t change anything, and there was no danger to the baby if it went undetected. They wouldn’t begin treating the baby until 5 years old if he/she does have the condition anyways. So we’ll wait till after the baby is born to do the testing, so we can be prepared to deal with it as we raise our blessing. A side note: I really appreciate this geneticist – she called my baby a “baby”, rather than a “fetus”. I don’t really care if that is the medical terminology for this stage of my pregnancy … this is our BABY we’re talking about and I’d rather we recognize it as a living breathing little human than a developmental stage.

In the end they seemed quite surprised that, despite having all the symptoms, my heart is quite healthy and fine! I will be checked again in October (6 months) and then after the squishy arrives!

Today was our latest prenatal checkup. It was a quick appointment (15 minutes – wow!), but we were able to hear the baby’s heartbeat again … 146-147 bpm. Always a beautiful sound – from fearing we’d never have a child to hearing its heart beat fast and strong. Gives me chills 🙂 God is so good!

Praise the Lord for a healthy baby – still set to arrive around January 15th.

<3 Tara & Oliver

 

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