It's kind of a long story, but I will try to briefly explain it. I am Rh-negative and Jim is Rh-positive. So, if I get pregnant with a baby with a positive blood type, when our blood mixes my body will respond as if it is allergic to the baby and develop antibodies to fight the baby's blood. The mother's antibodies break down the baby's red blood cells and produce anemia. This is usually not a problem because the mom can get a shot around 28 weeks and then again after the baby is born. We did this with Jack and everything was fine. With Patrick, I didn't get the shot in time and became sensitized. They monitored me the rest of that pregnancy, but I was so close to the end that there were no issues. When I was pregnant with Charlie, they monitored me throughout the pregnancy, but the baby never became severely anemic and I was able to deliver a full term baby without any complications. He did have to be on a bilibed for a while after birth.
With this pregnancy, I have been monitored closely. The risks increase with each pregnancy. When I went in for my weekly appointment on Monday, December 30, the ultrasound showed that the baby was severely anemic. In the past this carried a high rate of miscarriage, but luckily we are living in 2014! They admitted me to the hospital and gave me steroids to develop the baby's lungs that day and the following day. I got to go home Tuesday night and came back to the hospital Wednesday night. Bright and early the following morning the doctors performed an intrauterine blood transfusion. They took us into an operating room, in case they needed to do a C-section, and then paralyzed the baby. They gave me something to calm me, as well as a local anesthetic. Then, they put a needle in my belly, through the placenta, and into the umbilical cord to draw some blood. They rushed the blood to hematology to find out how anemic the baby was. Once they had the results they were able to transfuse enough blood into the baby's umbilical cord to bring it up to the level it needed. After several hours in recovery, I was able to go home.
I have had check-ups twice a week since then and things look good. Because the baby is likely to become anemic again, the doctors want to deliver the baby around 36 weeks. Once the mother reaches 35 weeks it is less risky to deliver the baby (and do a transfusion on the newborn if necessary) than to do another fetal transfusion. I will be 36 weeks on Wednesday and we have scheduled the induction for this Saturday. I am confident that everything will go well. I assume the baby will need to spend a little time under the lights and there is a possibility that he/she will need another transfusion after birth. We are really looking forward to welcoming our new son or daughter into the world. The boys are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new sibling!
This past Saturday night, my Dad took the 3 boys for the night and Jim and I got to go out one last time before we become a family of six. We went to a Winter Concert at the hospital, where Jim performed (picture below). He played guitar and sang "Freight Train" by Elizabeth Cotten. He did great! Then, we went to see my cousin's paintings at an art show downtown. Lastly, we went out to dinner. It was a wonderful night. The best part was we slept in until 8:30 because we didn't have any kids at home!!! I am trying to store a bunch of sleep now since I probably won't be getting a lot of it in the coming months.