Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Please Pray

Dear Reader,

I ask you to please pray for me and baby.  Allow me to explain why.

Because it is likely that baby and I have a different blood type (since Michael and I do), I have what is called the "RH Factor."  I have A- blood and it is likely that our baby has O+.

People who have negative blood (like me) make up only 15% of the population.  As I understand it, there is some special coating that is not present on the surface of each negative red blood cell, making it more sensitive than positive red blood cells.

Women who have negative blood and who are pregnant could develop antibodies against their child's blood IF the child's blood is positive and IF the two blood system mix, such as is common during the time of birth. 

This means that, if God forbid my blood were to mix with my baby's at birth, my blood would create antibodies against all future children with positive blood.  This means that future miscarriages would be likely, unfortunately.

So, at 28 weeks pregnant, I received the Rhogam shot, which was invented about 40 years ago.  It contains the plasma of about 10-15 other women with negative blood who--unfortunately--developed antibodies against their unborn children.

The theory with this treatment is that if we place into my blood system these other women's antibodies, they will attack any positive blood cells that they encounter, and my immune system will not have to make its own antibodies.  And if my immune system does not make its own antibodies, then our future children are safe.

The Rhogam shot is effective within 72 hours of blood mixing.  I understand completely the need for the shot to be given after the mixing of blood which is likely to happen at delivery (and after the child's blood is typed to prove that need), but I still cannot fully comprehend why it is given to pregnant women at 28 weeks gestation.  To put antibodies in my blood system while I'm pregnant is the very thing we're trying to avoid, right?

My fear was for the health of our unborn child.  I was afraid of these donors' antibodies crossing the placenta and attacking my child.  Furthermore, because this is a "whole blood product," the possibility of acquiring a serious blood-born illness from these donors is always possible, and even the Rhogam website admits this.  To add to my fears is the fact that  Rhogam is only a "Class C" drug because it has not been tested for safety on pregnant women or fetuses.  And yet it is prescribed for them!  Incredible.

After weeks of conducting research online, in textbooks, and through interviews with doctors, other mommies, and a Rhogam representative, I agreed to receive the shot -- despite the surprising and disappointing amount of CONFLICTING information given to me by what should be reliable sources.

But conflicting information aside, I was disappointed to learn that most of my fears were indeed based on fact.  The donors' antibodies WOULD be crossing the placenta to baby, but the thought was that--at 28 weeks gestation--our baby is old enough and hearty enough to not be negatively affected by such an attack.  The attack, the representative assured me, would be slight.

And so we did it.  I received the shot.  It's like taking out an insurance policy (paid for by the health of baby and me) for the hope of the existence and safety of our future children.  But the list of possible side effects from the Rhogam shot are quite long, and chief among them is the possibility of blood clots.  Also among them is a lower-performing immune system for about 6 months following the shot.

The day after I received the shot, I developed a pink and tender blood clot in my right leg, just below the knee, in a varicose vein that I guess had gradually developed since my pregnancy but which also seemed somewhat brand new.  My doctor was concerned and sent me to a vein specialist who performed an ultrasound on my entire leg to check blood flow.  Unfortunately, he confirmed that it was in fact a blood clot and that there was nothing we could do except to monitor it and have me visit him again 3 months after baby is born.  The hope is, of course, that the blood clot will heal on its own after the additional weight of this pregnancy is off of me. 

The truth is...I am scared.  I am scared for myself and scared for my baby.  But stronger than the feelings of fear are my feelings of trust in my God who made us.  I am confident in His love and protection.  And I am confident that His little Saint Philomena is watching me non-stop, always praying for me before God's throne, ready to swoop in and help out as only God can direct.

My dear reader, I ask for your prayers.  I ask you to please pray for a miracle, that I may wake up one day and find the blood clot to be completely gone.  And I pray that this miracle may give glory to God and attest to St. Philomena's intercession!  Please pray with me for this.