Friday, October 17, 2008

Welcome Google Searchers....

It's strange to me that of all the crazy assortment of things that I write about on this blog, the posts that get the most hits from search engines have to do with 1) ultrasound results or 2) collecting a urine sample from a baby.

1) About the urine sample thing. I've now been in the position to experience (as the mother) collections from both boys and girls. Let me tell you, until they hit potty training stage, neither gender is fun.

As I posted a long time ago, for a baby girl, doctors can sometimes attach a collection bag around the genital area. When she pees, it goes in the bag. I think this method isn't the most sterile, so it probably depends on what kind of a test they're going to run--might be fine for a dipstick kind of thing, but probably not for an actual culture (where they watch it for a couple of days and check what kinds of bacteria grow).

For a boy, about the only method is a catheter (unless you're really lucky and catch him mid-pee). The doctor threads a very tiny tube up the ureter (yes, the pee-hole at the end of the baby boy's boy-parts!) and up into the bladder. There is a balloon somehow used through this tube up in tehe bladder to force the urine down the tube and into a waiting vessel. This eliminates contact with the outside skin, and allows less contamination. They will do this to girls, also, if they need to. From my own c-section experiences, the process doesn't hurt, but it feels really strange and annoying, and the baby will probably cry at first. My son Trystan had to have a catheter in place for nearly 2 weeks after one of his surgeries, and there were no bad side effects (swelling or bleeding or anything like that) once it was finally removed. Cringe-worthy, yes, and the worst part is having to watch it done to your baby.

2) Ultrasound results. My son had both a dialated kidney and a 2-vessel cord show up on his ultrasound. I cannot reassure another parent with a similar diagnosis that "its nothing" because its not nothing. It's definitely something. Trystan's story can be found in posts here, here, and here (and probably a whole lot more that I haven't linked--start reading around November '06). In his case, his dialated kidney was caused by one kidney being larger than the other--now at 1.5 years old, he has one good kidney (the larger one), and the other "kidney" is little more than a small amount of tissue that doesn't do much. The kidney was larger because it was doing the job of two. All he needs is one good kidney, so this is the least of our worries with his health (far below even routine ear infections and colds!)

The two-vessel cord (or single umbilical artery or several other name variations) was an early sign of his eventual diagnosis with VACTERL association. Sometime during early development (in the first trimester...probably within the first 4 weeks of pregnancy), something went wrong with development of his umbilical cord. Instead of 2 arteries and one vein, he got one artery and one vein. That made my pregnancy a high-risk one, where I had twice-a-week non-stress tests for the entire third trimester to monitor his heartrate and activity levels. Like most of Trystan's "problems", he sailed right through, strong and active. He does have heart defects--a VSD and an Anuerism in the Sinus of Valsalva. The Anuerism will require surgery, likely in the next year. But neither defect has ever caused him a day of grief so far (lots of echocardiograms, but that's all). And while the heart defects are related to the umbilical cord problem (and to the rest of his symptoms), they weren't caused by it.

If you're a parent facing any of these issues, welcome and I'm sorry! None are any fun! If you feel up to it, stay a while and browse around on my blog. Especially if you're expecting, have scary stuff show up in ultrasounds, and are fearing the worst. I hope you will find some hope here. Trystan is a special kid--smart, funny, absolutely adorable (don't believe me after hearing about all these "defects"? Check out some photos). I should videotape his giggle to share, it's that infectious and heartwarming. Sometimes the best things in life just require a little more effort on our part, that's all.

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