Wednesday, February 04, 2015

That Mysterious Blood Type

Three pregnancies have followed the same pattern so far. I have some minor spotting at around 8 weeks, which leads to an unexpected run to the doctor, an emergency ultrasound and an injection of a magical substance called rhogam. All because...I have weird blood.

I am part of the 10% of the American population that has negative rh factor blood (more simply known as Rh-). Of course I had never heard of such a thing until I was pregnant with Tessa. I had some early bleeding with her which landed me in the ER since it was a Sunday, where they did a simple test to tell me that I had that weirdo blood, and was not having a miscarriage.

With Charley it happened again and AGAIN I got my shot in the ER, because we were out of town. Baby #3 caused less drama, and it was only a short afternoon trip to the OB office. I was home in time to get the kids of the bus.

So what's this Rh- blood type thing all about? Well...I'll try to sound as smart and scientific as I can here. I have negative Rh factor and Jeremy has a positive blood type. If a positive blood type baby and an rh- mother cross blood either in utero or at delivery, the Mom's body will freak out and try to eliminate it. Or the mother could become septic.

Here's a good excerpt from a medical article I found online: If you are Rh-negative, you may develop antibodies to an Rh-positive baby. If a small amount of the baby’s blood mixes with your blood, which often happens, your body may respond as if it were allergic to the baby. Your body may make antibodies to the Rh antigens in the baby’s blood. This means you have become sensitized and your antibodies can cross the placenta and attack your baby’s blood.

All that being said, we live in an amazing time of medical advancements. Women and babies used to die from this. For me, it's as simple as getting regular injections of antibody called rhogam. Usually women can wait to get injections until later in pregnancy and around the time of delivery. But since I'm extra special, I've gotten to do it early every time. The OB docs take ANY spotting seriously with Rh- moms.

I had kind of forgotten that in the 6 years since I haven't produced, and when I casually left a message for the OB nurse yesterday, I was thinking they might want to see me sometime this week. She called back and told me to start driving, asking how far away I lived from the office.

Momentary panic followed by the relief that everything was okay. I got to see the bean on an ultrasound, hear a healthy heartbeat, pee in a cup and get my shot. The bleeding was all cervical, no big deal. (Sorry, tmi? Yeah I said cervical. Sorry.) I will have to get 4-6 more injections in the butt over the course of this pregnancy, just like with Tessa and Charley.

But isn't it weird to think that I will carry this baby, nourish it, deliver it, nurse it and we are completely simpatico...but if God forbid we cross blood, we are mortal enemies. Seriously, it's just the weirdest condition.

An alien blood inhabitant.

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