PA School Magic

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This is what having 20+ people watching your US looks like!

I don’t think it would come as a surprise to anyone to know that being pregnant while being in PA school is a constant struggle.  Of course, we didn’t plan for it to happen this way – but the Lord certainly did.  And while life as a PA student/ pregnant lady is hard 99% of the time, there is that 1% of the time where absolute magic happens.   Fortunately for me, I got to experience that just two short weeks ago and it will be something I will always remember.

The back story: A few weeks ago I was approached by Professor Johnson, one of our faculty members, with a proposal for an opportunity to be an “OB OSCE” patient.  This would entail having all 39 of my classmates watch me receive a full anatomy scan ultrasound.  Mrs. Johnson insisted that I not make a decision without going home to talk to Dustin and really think everything through.  I guess she could tell I was very eager to say yes, and I so reluctantly agreed to sleep on it.

After speaking with Dustin, we discovered we did have some questions about the process and so I met with Prof. Johnson to discuss.  After allaying a few fears, I knew this would be an amazing opportunity that I did not want to miss.  I mean who gets to say they had 39 classmates (practically family members at this point) present to meet your baby in utero?  I could hardly wait!

Finally the day was here and everyone (me and members of faculty) had managed to keep everything a complete secret.  So all my classmates knew is that they would be observing an ultrasound of a “real” OB patient before practicing in the simulation lab.

After listening to a presentation on OB ultrasound, we headed for a bathroom break and I snuck into the exam room to get ready.  Dustin was there with my mom, which was a request I made at the beginning of our planning.  I figured it would be a more realistic scenario if family were present so Mrs. Johnson happily agreed.  We were all prepped and ready for the students to arrive.

When everyone walked in, the feeling of excitement was overwhelming for me. There were lots of “ohhhs” and “awws!” going around the room. When the instructor put the transducer on my belly and sweet baby Gurley made its debut, it was AWESOME.  Everyone’s faces just lit up and there were even a few tears!! I told the sonographer to not hold back any details about Baby Gurley, and so when it came time to obtain the view to determine sex, we let the students guess and we confirmed/announced what Baby Gurley will be!  It was AMAZING!!!  Everyone got excited and giddy and it was just such an incredible experience.

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Still from the video of us checking in on Baby Gurley! Abby had just said “This is going to make me cry!” so sweet :)

We watched Baby Gurley yawn, flex fingers, and kick like crazy for almost 20 minutes!  Even the smallest movement would elicit the loudest “Aww” from the group.  I was so proud, so elated, so happy… really, there aren’t enough words to describe it.  It was truly beautiful.  Dustin recorded most of the ultrasound and took some great pictures, and I have loved watching the videos over and over.

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Another video still of one of my favorites, Kat, and her excitement at seeing Baby G moving around on screen! Love that girl!

I spoke with Prof. Johnson later the next day and we both were just in awe at how much better the experience was than we were expecting.  I looked over at her a few times during the ultrasound and saw her wiping away tears and just thought about how much bigger this event really is than what I ever thought it could be.

The pregnant body is such a blessing from God.  I am learning every day just how amazing our God is simply by each continued breath I take – a breath which I am in turn giving to my growing baby.  My hope for this experience was that each of my classmates would grow to see a pregnant woman as TWO bodies in one; and to never take for granted that each decision for mom is a decision simultaneously made for the fetus.  I was so naive about pregnancy and obstetrics before I became pregnant myself (and I certainly don’t claim to know it all now.)  But I have learned to be so much more respectful of the pregnant body and the unfathomable miracle that it truly is.  Of course, I know my passion for OB/GYN is fueling much of my intensity regarding pregnancy (my own and in general).  But it is such an important population that we will all inevitably come across in practice at some point in time.  I hope Baby Gurley will leave a lasting, deeply memorable impression. I know our little one has already given that to me.

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Ba-bee Gurley at 18 weeks 1 day!

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15 Weeks, 5 Days

I cannot believe we are already only a few days away from being 16 weeks along with our sweet little Baby Bee.  Ever since we found out we were expecting, we’ve been calling Baby Gurley our little Baby Bee.  We buy lots of bee things around here because it reminds us of a special time in our life – when the Tar Heel was a SCAD Bee down in Savannah!  Now we can hardly wait to add one more very special Bee to our family this fall :)

We started a garden, the perfect spot for our baby Bee spinning flag!

And as of almost two weeks ago, we now know what our little Baby Bee will “bee”!  We are so excited.  When we went for my 12 week visit and ultrasound, we were presented with the option of doing some testing for chromosomal changes that may indicate serious disorders or syndromes.  I had really wrestled with this, and after speaking to a few friends, had pretty much decided we wouldn’t do any testing.  We figured no matter the outcome of the tests, we wouldn’t change anything.  One of the major perks of being pregnant in PA school is having access to some incredible medical resources.  One of my mentors at school happens to have practiced women’s health for 20+ years. When I mentioned to her we decided against testing, she kindly asked if I cared to know what she often told patients with regard to testing. Of course I was interested to find out. She told me that for many years she carried the same belief that I had – regardless of testing, it wouldn’t change the outcome (with regards to aborting). And that was ok for a while, until she began to see the many couples who opted not to test who ended up having a child with needs who could have benefited greatly from being born in a hospital with every resource available, a decision the parents could have made with the knowledge gained from prenatal testing.  And for those children, every prolonged second of care in transport can significantly impact their quality of life down the road.  I share all of this for anyone who may come across the blog who is trying to make the same decision we were.  Of course, this is not a blanket statement for everyone and each mother-to-be should have a very candid discussion with their partner and physician before making this decision.  But for us, the option to test made a lot of sense, so we went for it.

The test we chose to go with is called Panorama and is a simple blood test (not invasive). The test separates my DNA, the baby’s DNA, and Dustin’s DNA (by a cheek swab) in order to analyze for chromosomal abnormalities.  This test is over 99% accurate for detecting changes of chromosomes 13, 18, and 21.   As an added bonus, it also looks for the X and Y chromosomes which determine the baby’s sex. So, two weeks ago this Friday we got a great test report AND found out what our sweet Baby Bee will “bee”!!  Isn’t medicine amazing?

For now, what our little Baby Bee will “bee” is our little secret. We are keeping it a secret for another little secret we have :) Gosh, secrets are fun when you’re the one who knows them!!!!!!

Here’s some pregnancy stats so far:

Weeks of morning sickness:11.5 (thank goodness we got through that!)

Baby is the size of: Avocado!

Favorite food this week: Watermelon and Chocolate Milk

Babymoon: Ocracoke Island in April!

Maternity Clothes: Still sporting my dresses, tops, and some work pants. Just purchased first pair of maternity jeans!

Thing I miss the most from pre-pregnancy: My beloved Diet Pepsi

Thing I love most about pregnancy: Of course I look forward to seeing our little Bee on U/S, but there’s nothing like waking up each day remembering that our bundle of love is growing stronger each day inside my belly. I am still in awe at the whole process. More superficially, the thicker locks are nice. :)