Wednesday, February 2, 2011


So I had a scare, a while back, on Halloween.
The phone rang at 8 AM and it was my midwife calling, sounding confused.
Have you had RhoGam lately?, she asked me, and of course I said no, why should I have?
Well, she said hesitantly, I'm looking over your lab results and you're testing positive for the D antigens, so somehow between having Fiona and now you've become Rh sensitized...
She asked me, then, if I knew anything about what that meant.
Yes, of course I do, I said. It means your baby becomes anemic and can get very sick and sometimes dies.
Oh, she said, sounding crestfallen. Of course that's what you know. But that's not what usually happens.
The rest of the conversation matters little, because what she did was to try to reassure me, but that did nothing for what was going on in my head. The only Rh sensitized babies I'd known had ended up in the NICU at 28 weeks, fighting for their lives, and sometimes died. Rattling around in my head were scenarios of babyloss, paired with scenarios of a terribly sick baby in a hospital far away, and me with a 14 month old nursling abandoned at home while I wavered between my mothering responsibilities for my living children and my baby on the cusp. I wondered, given that RhoGam works 99% of the time, how it was that once again I had fallen into this statistically impossible category.
In the end, she told me that the important thing was that in the morning she would find out what my antibody levels actually were, which would give an indication of just what kind of anemia and monitoring we could anticipate. I wondered at that point if she couldn't have just waited to call a basket case like myself until she had this information. The waiting seemed cruel.
For a day I felt certain the baby would die, but it was only a day. The phone rang the next afternoon with a different, equally confused midwife on the other end of the line.
Carol? she said, Somehow when the lab called over your results yesterday they gave a D antigen level from November of 2009, right after you'd gotten your RhoGam shot for Fiona. I looked over the paperwork for last week and you're fine, absolutely fine. There's no D antigen present at all.
My sigh of relief was so huge and all-encompassing that I didn't even think to ask HOW the lab had managed to make such an error, or even to feel irritated that for 28 hours I had been sick to my stomach with worry. I was so thrilled to be fine, just fine, that I simply thanked her and hung up.

And in the meantime, do you know what I discovered? That some people refuse to take RhoGam, because they think that if you follow "good birth practices", it's unnecessary. That the blood won't mix, and you won't get sensitized.
But what if you do, and the baby dies?
Like in the old days, when babies DID used to die from this?
But I suppose that's not a question to ask to somebody who's so privileged and sheltered that they can believe that by going totally all-natural and holistic, they have complete control over their baby's fate.
Damn it, I wish I could be like that.


Rixa said...

My mom did have RhoGAM after each rh+ baby (it wasn't offered prenatally at that time). She became sensitized early on during her last pregnancy with my little brother (or perhaps before that pregnancy due to a missed early miscarriage? no one really knows). She was monitored towards the end and induced at 37 weeks. My brother was jaundiced but otherwise fine. But that made her decision to stop having more children. He was #5.

I've had the postpartum shot each time, but I haven't done the prenatal shot except for this pregnancy. I'm fine taking the potential risks/side effects of the shot on myself, but I am a bit more hesitant to do it prenatally, when there's also a possibility of harming the baby, not just yourself. Plus the evidence of its benefits isn't as strong, compared to the postpartum shot, where it's a lot more clear. This time I felt better about doing the prenatal shot--it was on my mind a lot more, so I figured I'd go ahead and do the prenatal shot and stop worrying about it.

Hope's Mama said...

I've heard girls say the same thing about having antibiotics in labour if there is an infection present, prolonged ruptured membranes or they have tested positive to GBS. Those antibiotics, if I'd had them, could have saved Hope's life. How anyone can see them as an "intervention" of labour, is absolutely beyond me.
So glad your scare turned out to be just that, a scare.

Housefairy said...


(dont you wish there was some kind of accountability when labs scare people so badly???)