“When we found out we were pregnant, making it to 12 weeks felt like the biggest hurdle we would have to cross, and after that, everything would be pink bows and little dresses. Little did I know more than halfway through our pregnancy, we would be diagnosed with SUA – something that effects only 1% of pregnancies.
SUA/Two Vessel Cord is when the umbilical cord only has one artery and one vein, while the typical umbilical cord has two arteries and one vein. The umbilical cord’s job is to provide oxygen to the baby and disburse toxic waste – both extremely important to have to grow a healthy and thriving baby, and for us this wasn’t the case.
Being 20+ weeks along into my pregnancy, I knew I was expecting a girl and I knew her name would be Marlowe. At this time, I’d envision the beach dates, the stroller rides, the shopping dates, all the wonderful memories we would create. Never in my wildest dreams did I think about the possibility of sitting across from a doctor who would be telling me my baby is high risk, let alone mentioning a term I’d never heard before. ‘You now have a high-risk pregnancy,’ cutting her off midsentence I ask, ‘Am I high risk, or is my baby high risk?’
Naturally, a slight panic set in when she clarified that my baby indeed was the high-risk patient. I could no longer focus on her words. I knew I could look up more information later. Right now I needed to get out of these four walls, and on the phone with my husband.
With an awkward pat on the shoulder and a small pamphlet of information now in my hand, I raced for the door barely making it to the parking lot before I became a sobbing mess. Blurry from the tears, I could hardly find my husband’s name in my phone.
‘Our baby is high risk! Our baby is high risk! They said she won’t make it full term and will be smaller.’
My poor husband, he is used to me being a bit dramatic (unfortunately) but he stayed calm even in this situation and asked me to repeat our diagnosis as he looked up more information online.
‘SUA, Single Umbilical Artery … they said she’ll be small’ that’s all I could focus on – she was going to come early, she could have complications, she wouldn’t grow on time, etc. but thank goodness I married who I did because through it all, he wiped my tears, he held my hand and he always reassured me that our sweet girl would be okay – no matter what, despite his own fatherly fears.
As the next few weeks went by, they were consumed with stress tests, 1 emergency hospital admission, blood work, ultrasounds and bouncing back and forth between my area’s doctors’ offices – pretty much whoever could squeeze me in. I was no longer the pregnant woman who eagerly wanted to ‘meet every doctor or midwife in cause I end up delivering with them’. I was now in Mama Bear mode.
‘Hey there, nice to meet you. How’s my baby doing?’ Straight business, because my babies health… or lack thereof, was all that mattered from here on out.
During this process, no one seemed to be on the same page. Some doctors were telling me, ‘You’ll have to deliver her between 36-39 weeks,’ while others were telling me I could wait until my 39th week – it was all very confusing, but we did our best to take it day by day.
With SUA/Two Vessel Cord, your baby has the possibility to experience a variation of complications – the kidneys and heart could be at risk, they can drop weight while in the womb, all scary factors that were very much a threat to us. Luckily, Marlowe was cleared for potential risk towards her heart and kidneys, but her weight was dropping, and she was burning all of her abdominal fat. Our baby was struggling, and there were days I wouldn’t feel her kick at all …having up to 3 nudges from her a day would be considered a victory. I remember crying in the shower on multiple occasions begging God not to take her from me, absolutely pleading with Him to help her get to me safely – and to cook for as long as possible.
Well, on Monday, July 23 I had what would be my final stress test with Marlowe before they told me, ‘You have to go to the hospital. I’m not liking her lack of movement. I’ll call over to them, but I need you there by 3 p.m.’
A little perplexed I said ‘…am I leaving here to have the baby?’ and my doctor giggled a little and said, ‘Yes, Mary. It’s baby time!’
You’d think this would be a celebratory moment but to be completely frank, I was absolutely terrified. I believe I left the office similarly to the first day I heard the SUA diagnosis – a complete sobbing mess. I called my husband who was at work and said, ‘Babe, it’s baby time. They said we have to have her now and we need to get there before 3 p.m.’
If anyone knows anything about a first-time birth experience, they know that having their child ‘now’ more so looks like being in the hospital laboring for a minimum of 12 hours.
After 33 hours of labor, our little SUA/Two Vessel Cord baby, made her appearance into the world on July 25.
Our process was much longer than anticipated but when you’re induced, things progress much slower. And, in our case, having a slower birth experience benefited our already struggling baby. Her stress levels were heightened during labor and there were a few scary breaks in between the 33 hours, but our sweet girl came out healthy and weighing a whopping 5lbs!
She was the star of the hospital for the next few days, being nicknamed ‘the teacup baby’. And, avoiding the NICU all together, our only hurdle was having her grow out of preemie clothes and at about 2 months in, she wore her first ‘Newborn’ sized pajama set – oh happy day! Our journey was long, stressful but our fighting, feisty little girl made sure to make her mark on the world, and boy is she doing just that.
She still has some growth restrictions – as a 1 year old she weighs 15.8lbs (3% in weight for her age group) but that’s the least of our worries, she’s about to start walking and I’m worried I won’t be able to keep up!”
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