I got another peek at Mason today via level II ultrasound. As a matter of fact I also had 3D and 4D ultrasound today, which accounts for some of these orange pictures. The first picture above is his face, of course. Mason is measuring right where he should at 2lb 5oz, 28 weeks tomorrow. It’s a huge blessing! This picture is in 2D and shows one of his legs from the front of the shin, with the foot, which you can clearly see is twisted. That is, I believe, the bottom of his foot – aren’t his toes cute??? It’s called clubfoot. Both his feet are like this.
Let’s see if I can explain this picture right. You’re looking at Mason’s back. The zipper coming from the right to left is his spine/vertebrae from mid-back with some ribs (on right) toward his butt (on left). As you get toward the left you see a hole. The zipper looks like it is open. This is his myelomeningocele, the place where his vertebrae did not close properly, the place where his spinal cord and nerves are sticking out of his back. For reference it begins about two vertebrae below his bottom rib, so the lower part of the middle of his back. Go ahead, find your bottom rib to see where I’m talking about. This is fairly high, and the higher the opening (lesion) is, the more Mason will be affected.
The next picture is in 3D again. Remember how I said Mason’s spinal cord and nerves are sticking out that hole in his spinal column? At this point they are in a sac (spinal sac/durum possibly with some skin stretched over it, the doctors can’t tell on that part). Look for the arrows in the picture below, they’re pointing out that sac:
It’s amazing to see him moving and growing but always a bit nerve-wracking as well. You see, one big purpose to these frequent ultrasounds is to check the ventricles (spaces) in Mason’s head for a backing up of fluid. This back up and the resulting swelling in the brain is called hydrocephalus and as you can imagine it’s a bad thing to find. The only way to help Mason once hydrocephalus has begun is to deliver him and then put a shunt in his brain. So far Mason does not have hydrocephalus.
What’s a shunt? Basically it’s a valve that has tubes leading into the ventricles in the brain and away from it. When the pressure rises the valve opens and the tubing drains fluid from the ventricles into Mason’s chest or abdominal cavity, which can absorb fluid and get rid of it, unlike the skull/brain.
Mason has a 90% or greater chance of developing hydrocephalus. The reason is simple. As his spinal cord and brain developed with the cord sticking out of his back the brain grew in the rear of his skull and down into the cervical vertebrae. That shifted position makes it difficult for the spinal fluid to circulate easily around and through his brain and spinal column. There is a 90% chance that this will make fluid back up in the skull, putting pressure on his brain.
Right now our prayer is that if Mason does develop hydrocephalis it will be after January 1st, when he is considered full term. We do not want to add prematurity issues to the surgeries he’s facing at birth. His due date is not until 3 weeks later and in an ideal world he’ll not develop hydrocephalus until after birth. The bigger and stronger he is at birth the smoother his surgery to close his back will go and the better his recovery will be.
How am I doing? Pretty well I suppose. Pregnancy-wise things seem to be going normally, with average weight gain, no major aches and pains yet, and a generally healthy progression. Emotionally and mentally I feel good most days. I struggle to picture what life is going to be like in those first weeks in the NICU. I just can’t imagine it, no matter how much I learn about what to expect. I am continually turning over my worries to God, then taking them back again, and so on.
Through it all there is still peace. I am still thrilled to be pregnant with Mason, to be preparing to welcome this son into my family. I don’t know all the details, but that’s okay. I can’t wait to see him, to hold him, and to tell him all about how much he is loved. He’ll be here before we know it.