Victoria Jelinek

The Pregnancy Diaries – 5
June 7, 2012, 12:31 pm
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‘Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.’ Jules Renard

I went to the specialist in Grenoble this week. The good news is that I do not have uteri (two uterus’), just, simply, a larger womb that’s growing. So, with that bit of good news, I’m not facing the high chance of a miscarriage in the second trimester or the elevated odds that my cervix will open and deliver the baby too soon in the third trimester. The bleeding that I’ve been experiencing is because I have weak veins in the lining of my womb that are stressed as everything grows. The specialist said that this is nothing to worry about and this will stop within the next few weeks.

He did tell me that as with every woman who’s pregnant, I should expect to have some nasal congestion due to increased hormones – which surprises me as I feel as though I could get a job at the airport as a sniffer dog, my sense of smell is so keen. I first suspected I was pregnant when I walked into a restaurant that was cooking a big batch of pot au feu and thought that I would vomir ungracefully on the floor. The specialist also told me that due to my ‘mature’ age, I have a higher chance of thrombosis, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes. These realities, as well as back and knee problems, are compelling reasons to have children while young…or younger, anyway.

Upon return to Chamonix I went to my regular doctor. After looking at the report from the specialist in Grenoble (tres vite), he prescribed tights that are like armour that I must wear throughout my pregnancy. Luckily, they come in black. The ‘neutral’ colour looks like the brown pantyhose my grandmother used to wear that bagged around the ankles. And, while these tights are a hefty pain to get on and off, they do feel really good on the legs…like flight socks, only all the way up over the bottom. They’re almost 80e per pair! Luckily, once prescribed, the carte vitale picks up the bill. I asked my good doctor many questions about the general issues with pregnancy, such as the hormonal smell thing, the high blood pressure and the gestational diabetes potential that the specialist in Grenoble had mentioned. My doctor said to me, “A French woman simply accepts what the doctor tells them to do at any given time, then says ‘merci bien,’ and leaves. It does not matter whether the woman is English, American, Scottish, Scandinavian, or South African… if she’s not French, she asks too many questions!’ This lack of female query explains a lot – pauvres les petits chou. The good doctor tells me that for us to be on the ‘safe side,’ he will write an ‘arret de travaille’ for me. I asked him what this is. He said that it means that I can present it to my employer and I’m immediately able to leave work and they must pay me the remainder of my employment contract. ‘Doesn’t seem fair to them’, I said. ‘It’s not as though my work is physically taxing.’ The good doctor replied, ‘But why work when you’ve paid the taxes not to?’ This, too, explains a lot about the French.

The Pregnancy Diaries – 4

‘There are some women whose pregnancy would make some sly bachelor smile.’  Honore de Balzac

I woke up in the middle of the night the other night and was bleeding. The next morning, I went to my good doctor for a check up and an ultrasound. He told me that I have two uterus’ (called ‘uteri’, really), which may explain the bleeding. The uteri are only apparent now because my womb is getting larger. They’re heart-shaped – my doctor even drew me a picture. There’s a high chance of miscarriage in the second trimester (which could explain my previous two) as well as pre-term birth in the third due to the danger of my cervix shortening and then opening up too soon.

Thank goodness the French are very attentive in their health care for pregnant women. You’re given a schedule of the tests that you’ll have, as well as the visits that you’ll have along the way, and specialists are frequently, and quickly, referred to. One test that both my husband and I are to take, is one that checks our chromosomes and DNA – it’s quite expensive, gets sent to Lyon, and has confidentiality statements attached to the prescriptions – kind of “Big Brother,” but still fascinating. The one that’s coming up for me is a comprehensive ultrasound that looks for the sort of thing that my doctor has just found, and measures the size of the nuchal folds; they’re on the back of the neck of the foetus and if they’re a certain thickness, there’s a good chance of the baby having Downs Syndrome. There’s also a blood test that complements this ultrasound and both happen here between 12-14 weeks. In the states and the UK, these tests are generally regarded as a ‘mid term pregnancy check’ and are done around 16-20 weeks. I believe the scale goes to 10k (as in, 1 in 5k, or 1 in 300 chance of a problem). If you have anything below a 1 in 250 chance of a problem, then you have an amniocentesis and the results come back a few weeks later. If you score higher than 250, then you have to go to another country to have an amniocentesis.

I’m going to take my blood test in Chamonix and then go to an ultrasound specialist in Grenoble next week who will be able to do the scheduled test, confirm or disconfirm that I have uteri, and explore why I might be bleeding. I looked the doctor up online and he’s world class, which calms me. While online, I looked up the two uteri thing to find out if humans get this or if I’m some strange anomaly that’s more closely related to a sheep. It’s called Uterus didelphys (how do I even pronounce that?), or a double womb. It’s not common. That said, a woman might never know that she has two uteri until there’s a complication in pregnancy, such as repeated miscarriages or placenta previa. Researchers aren’t sure what causes it. It’s possible to be pregnant in each of them (I’m not) but the likelihood of one or both of those foetuses’ surviving is unlikely. I looked up mammals that have them. A lot of them do, and even have two vaginas and two sets of fallopian tubes (I don’t).

Right now, my foetus is growing well and has a strong heartbeat. I could see its profile in the ultrasound with nose, forehead, legs and an arm. So, ‘it ain’t over till the fat lady sings’, and I’m not singing. I’m going to try to see just what’s in front of me, to the very next thing, rather than race ahead with worries and fears; simple, but not easy, when neurotic like me and charged up with hormones. My sister emailed me  “Just remember to brrrreeaaattthe…”