The Big "E"

When my doctor told me I had developed E antibodies, he gave me VERY little information. The more questions I asked, the more he repeated the same answers, in the same vague, difficult to understand way. When I left, I wasn't sure if what I had was a disease, or what, so I was a little panicked. All he told me was that I'd probably have to go to a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist, and the baby would probably have to be delivered premature.

Naturally, I went home and did my own research. There wasn't much out there. I'll give you a synopsis of what I learned, but I'm not a doctor, so cut me some slack. ;-) If you know of anything I got wrong and have a reputable website online to refer me to, please let me know, and I'll be happy to make needed corrections. Here is what I found out:

Our blood type (A, B, AB, and O) are based on the antigens in our blood. Type A has A antigens in it, type B has B antigens in it, etc. If someone who has A blood is given a transfusion containing type B blood, that person's type A blood will see the B antigens in the new blood as foreign, and therefore will probably rally to fight off these new antigens by producing antibodies to attack them. This is why you need to have a matching blood type given to you in a transfusion.

There are other antigens out there. Basically, these antigens are proteins that are attached to your blood cells. As far as E antigens go (and there are big E and little e antigens, each are different), 98 % of the population have ee, while the rest have either EE or Ee. If a mother is ee, and her husband is ee, there is no problem. But if the father is Ee, there is a 50% chance he will pass on the E antigen to his children. If he is EE, there is a 100% chance he will pass it on to his children.

If an ee mother is pregnant with a baby who has E antigens, and their blood somehow mixes during pregnancy or birth, the mother's blood will detect the E antigens, and create E antibodies to fight off the foreign antigens. This isn't a problem when it happens during a first pregnancy. The problem occurs to subsequent pregnancies. If the mother has another baby with E antigens, the mother's blood will recognize the E antigens, and will make even more antibodies to fight off the antigens. Basically, the mother's blood will try to attack and "kill" the baby's blood. If the level of antibodies gets too high, it can be very dangerous to the baby. The baby could die.

There are two ways to be exposed to these antigens. One, as just described, is to be exposed to it by the father, via the baby. The other is if you get a blood transfusion. They're supposed to check blood for antigens, and the blood can be "cleaned" of the antigens before it is given. But I guess mistakes happen, and you can still be exposed to these antigens through transfused blood. The good thing is, if you get it from a transfusion, you can have your husband's blood tested for a simple antibody screening. If your husband is ee, you are in the clear. Your child will not have the E antigen, and therefore your blood will not fight your baby's. As I mentioned before, if your husband is EE, your child will definitely have the E antigen, and if he is Ee, your child might have the E antigen.

If your baby is suspected to have the E antigen, your blood will be tested at least once a month in the beginning of your pregnancy, and more often if the titer levels go up or as the pregnancy gets further along. If the levels rise past a certain point, they might have to do things such as a cordocentesis or amniocentesis. I believe I also read that a intrauterine blood transfusion for the baby may be necessary. If the situation worsens, the baby will need to be delivered early. My doctor told me that they usually like to deliver the babies at 32-36 weeks. 36 weeks isn't too bad, but 32 weeks is pretty early. He can't give me statistics on how often premature deliveries are done, because usually patients with this condition go to a perinatologist, and he doesn't always get feedback on the outcome.

There are other antigens out there that will cause similar problems. The most common one is antigen D. This is the one that is a problem for moms who are Rh-. It is much more dangerous and can cause more problems. However, there is a solution that usually works for D antibodies. Doctors inject the mother with RhoGam, which are D antibodies but they are too big to cross the placental barrier. It fools the mother's blood into thinking that there is no reason to produce more antibodies, because there are already plenty of antibodies to "do the job". Since the injected antibodies are too big to cross the placental barrier, they don't harm the baby. This usually takes care of the problem. There is no injection for mothers with E antibodies, and I don't think there are for the other problematic antibodies out there, like C, etc. Probably because the others are much more rare, and therefore are not profitable enough to bother researching or manufacturing a treatment.

I will be having my husband's blood tested, although it is likely I got exposed to the antigens from him, via my last baby. The antibodies have never been detected in my blood during previous pregnancies, so either I got them from the last baby, or I got a blood transfusion during the last c-section or my hernia operation. I don't remember getting blood, and my doctor says usually they have you sign something informing you of the risks of transfusion and giving you things to look out for. I always read EVERYTHING I sign, so it's unlikely I had a transfusion. But I'd like my husband to be tested just the same. Since antibody screening is pretty routine during pregnancy blood workups, it is unlikely that I had E antibodies before now. Which probably means my husband is Ee, and didn't pass the antigens on to the first three children.

As annoying and worrisome as this complication is, I know that if my husband has E antigens, then I'm blessed that this hasn't happened sooner. Although you know this is just one more thing that the doctors will try to use against me in the future to coerce me to sterilize myself. Sorry docs, I'm not a cat, and that ain't gonna happen! Of course, the first thing my mother says is "see, I knew something like this would happen...your body just can't take all these pregnancies!" My response was "um, mom, didn't you listen to anything I said? This is something that occurred naturally, and could have happened with the first baby. And it might not even cause any problems. There was no way to prevent it." She acts like I broke myself, lol.

I suppose I could have made my husband submit to several health exams and blood screenings to make sure he was "compatible". I can just see it now... "Sorry dear, I love you and I believe God sent you to me because you are the man that will be a wonderful husband and father and lead me and my future children to Heaven...but God made a mistake and gave you the wrong proteins in your blood, so I'm afraid we'll have to call the whole thing off." ROFL!! I mean, I was picky, but I wasn't THAT picky!

I hope you have enjoyed today's lesson on antigens and antibodies. Hey, you could turn this into a homeschooling lesson! Of course you'll have to come up with your own illustrations. ;-) You could make some E antigen and antibody puppets, and make them have a little puppet fight!

Pregnancy Complications


Well, this pregnancy is turning out to be a lot like Murphy's law!

I found out that I have a condition that is very similar to being Rh-....just a different antibody that's causing the trouble (E instead of D). It's much more rare, but not as serious. However, it doesn't have a simple solution like taking RhoGam. Basically I'm being referred to a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist, because I also have other high risk factors: being "old" (35 or older), being overweight, having had 4 previous c-sections, and to top it all off, I have gestational diabetes again. *sigh*

The bad thing is, they usually recommend early delivery of the baby--usually between 32-36 weeks. Now, you all know me, I am NOT big on interventions or other unnatural stuff. Of course, if it's necessary I'll do it. But doctors are so quick to try to force you into doing things that are not actually in the best interests of you or the baby, to minimize the risks of lawsuits and higher malpractice insurance, oh, say, guilting you into a c-section you don't really need, and telling you "don't worry, you can have a VBAC next time" as he laughs up his sleeve because he darn well knows you're highly unlikely to be "allowed" to have a VBAC in this day and age. Oh, I'd better not get started on that, lol!

Anyway, I'm not really big on delivering a baby early just because I have a condition that MIGHT cause a problem in the future. I've done my research (boy, doctors just hate that) and I know that they usually keep an eye on your titers (tracking the levels of antibodies in your blood to make sure your blood isn't attacking the baby's blood). If the levels go up, you know there is a problem. If they go over a certain level, the baby could be in danger. I won't be letting the doctors deliver the baby early "just in case". There will have to be some evidence that early delivery is truly necessary. I'm not going to risk my baby's life with a premature delivery just so the doctors can later say that they "took every precaution".

I'm also not going to let them bully me into taking insulin unless that is necessary also. I've been doing some research, and I found out that a study has shown that taking as little as 1/2 teaspoon a day of cinnamon can lower your blood sugar, and has helped diabetics keep their blood sugar under control. I plan to try this and diet modifications first (I've been a very bad girl lately, due to stress) before taking more drastic measures. If I need to, I'll take the insulin or Metformin, but not unless it proves necessary.

I'm not really worried too much about the baby. All my babies have been healthy. Granted, this could change at any time, life is like that. And I am a little concerned. But as long as I don't see much rise in the titer levels, I'm not going to freak out. Hopefully, the pregnancy will proceed normally. So please keep me and my baby in your prayers!

I'm Back!

Sorry for the lack of posting. I've turned into one of THOSE bloggers...the kind who rarely every posts, so I get bored checking in with them and take them off my boomarks list. LOL. At least Blogger finally let me sign in. Sheesh!

We've decided to wait until summer to buy a house. In the meantime, we found a five bedroom home to rent. It was really cheap, and now we know why. We knew the original builder had gone bankrupt, and this house and a couple of others were sold to an investor. Now the investor is ready to be foreclosed on, because he can't sell it either. We were told the price was too high. Oh, my friends, that's not the REAL reason. The real reason is that the contractor who built this was either a moron or a crook who used sub-standard crews. The drywall looks like it was done by ten year olds. I am NOT kidding! Places where they messed up are covered over with a splotch of joint compound, not leveled or sanded, then painted over. And they messed up a LOT. Some things, like the appliances, aren't bad. Others, like the doors, look fine, but are actually made very cheaply. The bannister for the stairs shakes. The phone outlets were connected to each other, but not the outgoing phone line (requiring the phone company to spend 6 1/2 hours here to fix it), and the carpet is so cheap that my daughter's hair looks like a dirty lint mop from all the carpet fibers she has picked up! No wonder the house hasn't sold!

The good news is, it isn't likely to sell anytime soon, and we have a six month lease anyway. And we got a good rate on the rent. And there is a SuperWalmart only three minutes away. YAY!

We should be ready to buy this summer (God willing) and finally have a home of our own. I can't wait to paint a wall!!!

There has been a complication in my pregnancy. Everything is okay so far. But that's a whole other post.

My "baby" is now one year old. She's so big! And finally she's at a good weight...for some reason my girls are so petite, it's hard to get them to gain. Which makes it hard when there are so many fat babies out there. Funny how doctors want fat babies, but once they're two or three years old, if they're too big, they want them to be skinny.

I just ordered "Created to be His Helpmeet" last night. Can't wait to get it. I've heard good things, but was never interested, based on exerpts I had read. My husband was definitely not a "Mr. Visionary" as the book describes, and that's what I've heard the most about. But last night I read an exerpt that talked about "Mr. Steady", that is my husband! Not 100%...I would never call him wishy-washy or too slow to make a decision, or one who wouldn't take a stand on a church issue, etc. But he is very stable, and definitely goes above and beyond helping me. Debi Pearl says many wives of a Mr. Steady end up with hormonal imbalances or health problems. There wasn't enough detail to know exactly why, but she seemed to be saying that strong women married to a Mr. Steady had a tendency to lose respect for him and take over as spiritual head of the family, etc. Perhaps she meant that because of this, many women end up stressed out or emotionally wrecked, I don't know....we'll see when I get the book.

I definitely don't lose respect for my husband when he works hard to take over many of my duties and give me time to myself...actually, I lose respect for myself. I feel like a failure, and end up hating myself for it. It's not his fault, it's mine. I've known for a while that I'm letting him help me too much. But I'm so overwhelmed I'm afraid to tell him that, for fear he won't help enough, and I'll feel worse. I really hope the book helps me, because I think she's really on to something.

I know I need to let go more, and not try to control so much. After reading "Fascinating Womanhood", I gave up control of the money (well, mostly) which helped a lot. I need to give up more control, and try not to manipulate him so much. He's a good husband, and I worry that he is losing respect for me.

In the meantime, while I wait for the book (I got it on MP3 so I can listen to it, otherwise I'll never finish it) I will be reviewing Fascinating Womanhood and trying again to implement her suggested changes. Last night I fixed myself up for my husband before he got home and I cleaned up the house, even though my day had been awful. He really liked it. And I felt better about myself, too.