MicroblogMondays: Blood Test Results that Scared Me

The babies saw Dr. Easygoing for their 9-month check up last Thursday.  Can you believe that they are 9 months already?  I’ll have to plan for their first birthday which will be here in less than three months.

The twins are doing very well health-wise.  To my surprise, both of them went up on their percentile for weight.  Okra is now at the 36th %ile, and Bunny is at 23rd.  Ever since they have become more mobile and their formula intake has been inconsistent, I kept thinking that they must have been lagging behind in their weight gain.  Dr. Easygoing reassured me that they are well.  He said some babies’ weight gain flatline when mobility increases.  Okra is 29 1/4 inches and Bunny is 28 3/4.  They are long and lean babies.  Dr. Easygoing commented on how social, interactive, happy, and healthy they are.

Shots were not part of the schedule for the 9-month check up, but blood work was.  I didn’t realize it but Dr. Easygoing usually orders lab test for a complete blood cell count, food allergy panel, and lead for 9 months.  Since Okra threw up twice after he had avocado in the past, Dr. Easygoing also threw in an order for avocado allergy.  Fortunately the clinic has a lab there so we didn’t have to go anywhere else.  Okra was the first one to be poked.  He already started crying while being held down prior to any needle going in his arm.  Bunny started pouting and crying when she heard her brother.  She also screamed when it was her turn not because she was poked but because she was restrained.  The good news is, they got over it quickly and stopped crying once we were out of the lab.

The lab results for the allergy panel came back the next day.  Both babies’ blood did not show elevated value for the common items for food allergies.  Right after lunch, I checked my email and found this from Dr. Easygoing.  It was regarding Bunny’s blood test results: “Her blood test to check for anemia was inconclusive and she had some cells not typically seen on a normal blood smear.  I want to recheck her blood test at our office and be certain everything is normal.”  My heart was about to jump out of my chest when I saw it.  What did that all mean?  I took my phone out of my purse and found a missed call and a voicemail from Dr. Easygoing.  He was asking me to call him when I had a chance as he wanted to talk to me about the kids’ lab.  He said there was nothing to worry about but he just wanted to repeat the lab test for Bunny to make sure that everything was okay.  He ordered another blood test and if I could bring Bunny in for it it’d be great.  At that point, I was truly worried.  So I called him back several times but he didn’t pick up.  I paced the living room and was trying to think what it could mean to have “some cells not typical seen on a normal blood smear”.  I was trying not to freak out.  Finally, Dr. Easygoing called back and spoke to me.  He said that the machine that ran the blood picked up on some atypical cells but because the machine doesn’t classify what kind of cell, it often marked it abnormal.  The machine does it about once a week, and 99 out of 100 times it’s nothing.  But to be safe and to rule out anything abnormal, he would like me to take Bunny in the same afternoon so we could get the results on the weekend.  He said something about white blood cells and such.  Honestly, I did feel a sense of urgency from his voice but I trusted that Bunny was in good hands.  I canceled a visit from an out of town friend and drove Bunny to the clinic when she woke up from her nap.

Baby girl did very well this time.  She struggled for a little when I held her down but she did not even make one peep when the needle went into her arm.  She just stared at the tiny tube that had her blood flowing through and was acting totally normal throughout the whole thing without being even upset for one second.  It was amazing to watch.

Then we waited.  During that time, my mind ran really far with all the possibilities of what this might mean.  I got scared at one point wondering what if she has cancer?  Do we have to contact the donor to request additional family medical history?  What will it mean for our family if she is sick?  What if I lose her?  I was freaking myself out and was trying not to freak out.  It was very difficult to wait.  But at the same time, I had to remember to pray for God’s peace that transcends all understanding.

Fortunately, Dr. Easygoing didn’t make us wait.  We had the blood work done at 1:45.  He called me at 5:20.  The first thing he said was, good news that everything turns out great.  Bunny is healthy.  Nothing is wrong with her blood.  Then he went on to explain what happened.  The lab’s machine picked up on some “abnormal” white blood cells on the first blood sample.  A hematologist looked at the blood and saw white blood cells that looked like cancerous cells (!?!?).  Dr. Easygoing got a call from the lab with those results.  He was alarmed and called up his trusted colleague who is a pediatric hematologist and showed her the results.  She told him to just tell the family (us) to return for an additional sample to rule out any problems.  He contacted me and tried to keep me as calm as possible but he himself was alarmed.  When the second blood sample got sent for analysis, the pediatric hematologist went to the lab to take a look at it herself.  This blood sample was totally normal.  It turned out that the first sample contained some white blood cells that were the results of the body created antibodies to fight out the cold virus that Bunny had in the last week.  Somehow the first hematologist (who apparently only looks at adult blood usually) mistook the cells as cancerous.  Dr. Easygoing apologized profusely for worrying us unnecessarily and burdening me to take the baby in for another unnecessary blood draw.  He said he’d talk to the clinic director about waiving billing for the second blood draw because it was the lab’s mistake and not ours.

I was just relieved that Bunny is still super healthy.  I am also glad that Dr. Easygoing didn’t mention the C word the first time.  I would have freaked big time.  I am also grateful that Dr. Easygoing was on top of things so we didn’t have to wait for the whole weekend to get the blood test results.  I hugged Bunny extra tight that day as we don’t have to worry about her healthy anymore.

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Pediatrician

I’ve been really busy the past few days but I feel I should write an update on this topic.

Finding a good pediatrician for the twins has been on my list.  I just don’t want to wait until the last minute to scramble when we return home with the babies.  So I took some time to think about what I would like in a pediatrician.  My work place is about half an hour from home.  I don’t know my childcare plan after my maternity leave, but I would probably prefer a daycare close to home.  So then I’d prefer a pediatrician close to home rather than close to work.  All my coworkers with kids live in the city so no one can give me a good recommendation for a pediatrician in my hood in the suburbs.  I searched for all the pediatricians within 10 minutes of my house and looked each one of them up online to find reviews about them.  There is one particular practice that is 8 minutes from home and it belongs to one of the biggest hospital systems in the area that is non-Kaiser.  One of the doctors there has the most 5-star reviews.  But that kind of turns me off because it means he is very busy and he doesn’t look exactly young, so he may retire some time soon.  He is also the only one who does not accept new patients except for newborns.  And he is the only one in that practice who does not have an option to make an appointment online.  So given his popularity, I would pass.  The reviews on another doctor in that same practice attracted me.  He seems experienced and has very positive reviews from parents.  They all praise him for being compassionate, caring, willing to listen, quick but not rushed, and being responsive to emails.  I had been putting off contacting anyone but on my birthday on Monday I just felt like it was the right time to call.  The representative who answered was going to schedule a meet and greet appointment for me.  When she heard that I wanted to schedule with this particular doctor, she said she’d have to talk to his team and have someone call me back.  I left her with my contact information and patiently waited.

Bob and I were taking an online class to learn about taking care of twins Monday evening when my phone rang.  I don’t usually pick up the phone from an unfamiliar number anymore.  But I quickly did an online search on the phone number and found that it was associated with the pediatrician that I was trying to schedule!  It was indeed the doctor himself who was calling me back after hours to try to schedule a time with me for meet and greet.  I mean, that is enough to impress me.  What doctor would call you back himself these days?  His voice message was nice and welcoming.  He said that schedule wise it has been a busy month for him for meet and greet but since we are expecting twins, he’d accommodate me any way we need. After the online class, I called his number back and he promptly picked up the phone.  It sounded like he was driving home from work.  We had a nice chat.  He asked me for my schedule so he could accommodate me. I asked him what he had available.  He then mentioned about the next day at 5pm he had a cancellation as the woman who was scheduled at that time just gave birth so she could no longer come to that appointment.  I was happy that he could see me so soon, but I couldn’t make it at 5pm.  He was so accommodating.  We scheduled a time at 5:30pm so I could just leave work at the regular time to meet him there.

The next day I was super busy at work.  Right before I left, I printed out a list of questions online to ask the doctor.  The clinic’s location is convenient enough for us.  It is exactly 8 minutes from home.  The building looks very new.  I walked into the waiting room and saw on the left side that there was an area for newborn only.  First impression was good.  The front desk lady was very friendly.  I was led to an exam room by the pediatrician’s nurse who took down some information from me.  And the the doctor came in.

Let’s call him Dr. Easygoing.  He is truly friendly.  He introduced himself to me by his first name.  The whole time, he looked me in my eyes and chatted with me about everything, just like a new friend trying to get to know me.  He asked me questions about me, my background, and Bob’s upbringing.  He told me a bit about himself.  He joked that he is the “newbie” in that practice as he was the last hire.  But he has been there for 21 years, so doctors there stay for a long time.  He said I might wonder if my babies would be able to stay under his care for a while.  He is in his early 50s and started a family in his 40s.  He joked that his kids are still young and he is not going anywhere.  He still needs to take care of them.  Dr. Easygoing has many twins under his care.  He said it was by accident.  About six years ago, some twins were referred to him.  After that, he started to see a steady stream of twins.  Later on he met a fellow pediatrician whose last time resembled his.  This pediatrician said he used to have a lot of twin patients, but the referrals started dwindling at the same time Dr. Easygoing started getting the twin referrals.  So it seems like the nurses who made the referrals mixed up the two doctors’ names!

We talked about bit about the practice.  This is a brand new clinic that has been there for a couple of years.  It’s about 10,000 square foot big.  There are 7 doctors in the practice.  The doctor who started the practice is the super popular one.  He’s probably not taking new patients because he’s in his 70s now.  The clinic’s hours are from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday.  On Saturday and Sunday, there are clinic hours from 8am to 5pm at another location that is about 15 minutes away from home.  He said that if we choose him as a pediatrician, the twins will most likely see him at every visit even at sick visits.  They provide same day visits for sick kids.  All I will have to do is to write him an email and he will respond promptly and get us in.  This is unlike my friends’ experience at bigger practices where they’d see different doctors every time.  When the babies are born, we will schedule an appointment with him for them to be seen at around 5 to 6 days old provided that we go home right away.  He told me that one of us can check in while the other person stays with the babies outside.  Once checked in, we can take the babies in the exam room directly to avoid being in the waiting room.  This is a practice with 99% of the patients getting vaccinated on scheduled, which is important to me.

Dr. Easygoing is really easygoing.  He said that he hopes we consider choosing his practice.  But if we decide to go somewhere else, he will have no hard feelings. And in the future if we choose to go with another pediatrician in the same practice after seeing him for a while, no hard feelings either.  He is just very friendly and nice.

He asked me about the donor egg and surrogacy experience.  So I told him briefly about what happened.  At one point, he mentioned about Annie by saying “the mom”, and he caught himself and self-corrected right away, saying that “I shouldn’t call her the mom because you are the mom.  She is the surrogate.”  Thank you doctor for catching yourself!

I asked him about the whole question about colostrum at birth vs. going directly to formula.  He told me that he’s seen so many babies in his life. It really makes no difference.  So if Annie is willing to pump the colostrum, let her do it. But if I feel better going directly to formula, no problem either.  As long as the babies are fed and loved, that’s all that matters.  I asked him about skin-to-skin right after the C-section before the babies get cleaned up.  He said it doesn’t make a huge difference either.  If we would like to bond with the babies immediately after birth, by all means ask for skin-to-skin before clean up.  But the other way is great as well.  The key is to consider what I want and not to feel bad or guilty about not choosing the other option.  The babies will be loved no matter what.  When the babies come home, he said that we will forget what they ate at the hospital as we will be focusing on their life at home.  Then the most important thing would be to have them on the same schedule to sleep well and be fed well.  Other things that did or didn’t happen at the hospital won’t matter much anymore.

After we chatted, Dr. Easygoing showed me around this huge clinic.  He showed me all the exam rooms and where he stores the vaccines.  He told me that he does all the shots himself because he wants the continuity and consistency.  There was an x-ray room and a room for doing stitches and stuff.  They also do in-house lab as well.  I asked him about formula and he gave me a bunch of samples so we can try with the babies once we get home.  When we said goodbye, he gave me his business card and told me to give him a call on his cell phone any time from now until the babies are born if I have any questions.  I looked at my watch when I got out of the building.  Dr. Easygoing spent a whole hour with me.  I didn’t expect that at all because I have read that pediatricians usually spend about 10 minutes at meet and greet.  I was thoroughly impressed.

So it seems like we’ve found the winner!  Dr. Easygoing will be our twins’ pediatrician.  I firmly believe that the babies will be well taken care of under his care.  I am so happy to be able to cross one more thing off my to-do list!