An Update on Everett David
I wanted to share an update on what's been going on with our family and my pregnancy. It's hard to put such vulnerable stuff out there for anyone to be able to read now or in the future. Ultimately, I am writing this post for a number of reasons. One, as I've done research on what is happening to my body, I have had a hard time understanding, and writing it all out helps me to process my thoughts and feelings about it all. We also love and care for our family and friends and those who love us, and want to keep people up to date with how we are doing.
I'm sorry in advance that this is such a long post, but I want to make sure to cover everything that we know so far. Just know that if you're reading this, we are open books, and would love to answer any questions you may have about anything. It helps us learn more as we process this with others.
During routine blood work (done on all pregnant women in the U.S.) my midwife found antibodies in my blood. After consulting with her corresponding OB, she tested again to make sure it wasn't a false positive. After a second test, we found that I did in fact have antibodies in my blood. This means that my body has been exposed to a blood type that doesn't match it's own, and is creating these antibodies to protect me from the foreign blood.
The particular blood gene that my antibodies are attacking is known as the kell antigen. Many people are familiar with the Rh blood type issues, and this is similar, but this is not the same. There is no shot (like the rhogam shot) available to keep my body from producing antibodies against my baby's blood, and the kell antigen produces antibodies that are much more aggressive, rare and unpredictable.
Once we found out my body was producing these antibodies, the next step was to test Jordan's blood, to see if he was positive for the kell antigen. If dad is negative, then there is no way the baby can be harmed and pregnancies go on normally. If dad is positive, there is a 50/50 chance that the baby is positive. In this case, doctors assume baby is also positive and treat the pregnancy with all the precautions necessary. Jordan's blood work came back positive for the kell antigen. This in no way affects him, it only affects our pregnancies as the baby begins to develop their own red blood cells.
Having the kell antigen never affects the first baby, because there would have been no way for me to have been exposed to a foreign blood type before then. One common way people are exposed is through a blood transfusion, or a prior miscarriage, which I haven't experienced. Apparently during child birth, mixing of blood is common, and even in normal uncomplicated births (like mine was with Reaghan), you can still be exposed. I was probably exposed during Reaghan's birth and my body produced the antibodies then. So when I became pregnant with Everett, they were primed and ready to defend against this "foreign" blood.
We have no way to know if Everett is kell positive or negative, since the only way to know for sure is to do an amniocentesis, which is invasive and comes with it's own set of risks. If Everett is negative, he is at no risk at all. If he is positive, the antibodies in my blood pass through the placenta and destroy the baby's red blood cells. This causes the baby to become anemic and can result in the need for an intrauterine blood transfusion, or other health problems after birth. Since we don't know either way, we have to treat my pregnancy as if it is high risk, to make sure Everett never becomes anemic. This means weekly scans on an in-depth sonogram and more blood work. It also means delivering in a hospital in case he is born needing a blood transfusion or other interventions for the sake of his health. It also most likely means NICU time since most kell babies need to be delivered early due to the risk of staying inside mama.
It turns out you can have a completely healthy pregnancy, feel amazing physically, all while your body is capable of attacking the very thing it is trying to create. If I'm honest, I'm still trying to wrap my mind around all of this. I feel confused and angry at all the extra procedures and monitoring that needs to be done. There just are no set answers for how this will affect Everett now, during and right after birth, as well as any future children in our future. So much is unknown, and that's been hard for me to deal with.
I wish I knew what my birth plan would look like, I wish I knew if I could have a normal labor and delivery, or what the risks are for Everett after being born. But right now we don't have any of those answers. I think the closer we get (I'm currently 30 weeks), the more we will know. The answers to a lot of those questions really lie in how Everett looks on the scans each week. Healthy baby = keep on trucking....unhealthy baby = deliver now. It could change in a moments notice, so I'm thankful to be able to keep an eye on him each week and to know that so far he has had perfect scans.
In all of this, we put our hope and faith in Jesus Christ, and trust Him as all powerful - infinitely more powerful than any medical issue, blood issue, or diagnosis. He is good and does good for his kids, and we trust Him with ours and baby Everett's life.
How you can pray:
- pray that Everett is kell-negative and never becomes anemic throughout the remainder of my pregnancy
- pray for Jordan and I - that we would not grow doubtful in God's goodness and would be able to trust in the unknown and in God's perfect plan
- that my antibodies would ultimately not go up, and that even if they do, that they would not be aggressive towards our son and he would not have health issues relating to the antibodies defense
Everett means brave, and David comes from King David in Scripture, who was the most beautiful picture of masculinity - both a poet and musician, a warrior and King. He sinned against God in horrific ways, yet God loved Him dearly and forgave him. When we named our son, our prayer was that his name would shape HIM. That Everett would be a mighty, brave and strong man of God, vulnerable and tender, yet unwavering in the truth; raw and real with God, like David was, yet steadfast in his faith. We couldn't have known when naming our sweet son that he would be the one to make US brave, raw and real before the Lord, begging Him to do more than we could imagine or understand in this baby's life. Now, when I look at my belly and feel his strong kicks, I think "Everett, you are making me brave."