In Central, I had a wonderful Biology teacher named Mrs. Fried. She was enthusiastic and animated, encouraging and fair. Truth be told, science was never my strongest subject, and I’m pretty sure I got a 75 on my biology regent. Ninth grade was the last time I took a biology class, and that was almost 2 decades ago! So, when our baby was born a couple of days ago, I surprised myself by remembering something important I learned regarding blood type.
I should back up and explain that I’m very into blood. Not in a freaky, vampire sort of way, but in a medical way. You see, I have a condition called APLA, which causes blood clots primarily during pregnancy. In order for me to carry a healthy baby to term, I take a regiment of daily shots of a blood thinner called Clexane, and a dose of aspirin. After the baby is born, I continue the injections of Clexane for six weeks, and then I have a couple of other restrictions but otherwise thank g-d, I live a normal life.
It’s not fun injecting myself in the stomach. I’ve had four pregnancies and I have three children, so there was actually a point in time where I was doing a daily injection for more than an entire year. I end up with a belt of bruises and have to be very careful about cutting myself since it takes a really, really long time to stop the bleeding. My biggest fear is that my children will inherit my genetic condition and will g-d forbid have problems with fertility.
So, it’s a complete miracle that I was able to carry three children to term. And, when our baby was born a couple of days ago, I was surprised to hear that he was jaundice because of something called ABO incompatibility. When I asked the nurses to explain what that meant, they told me that our baby was blood type A+.
And that’s when something I had learned in Mrs. Fried’s class came to mind. I told the nurses that it was impossible our baby was blood type A+ since I am blood type O+ and my husband is B+. They agreed that if I was O+ and my husband was B+, there is no way that our baby could be A+. It didn’t change the fact that he was jaundice and needed phototherapy, but I did insist that they retest his blood type.
A couple of hours later, they returned with the results: A+
So, there are three things to think about in this very moment:
a) One of us had the wrong blood type. Now, we knew that my blood type was O+ since both my parents are O+ and I was retested during one of the million pre-natal blood tests that I’ve done. We knew that the baby’s blood type was A+ since we retested him. Perhaps, someone made a mistake when they did the blood type test for my husband years ago?
b) I cheated on my husband and this was not his baby. This option was laughable but apparently, more than one person had this thought when we told them the story. To my husband’s credit, he is a tremendous mensch, and he didn’t question my fidelity. But, I saw a couple of awkward smiles from nurses and doctors when we asked how our baby could be A+ when we were both O+ and B+.
c) This wasn’t our baby. This was the most terrifying of all options. I started looking at him differently. Where I used to think some of his features resembled his siblings, I started questioning myself and wondering if I was just telling myself that he looked like my other children when in reality, he didn’t resemble any of us. I started getting even more suspicious when a nurse returned him to me after taking him to an exam room to do a blood test, and she told me that his wrist bracelet had fallen off but that his ankle bracelet was still on so I didn’t have to worry. I started wondering if perhaps he had been switched with another baby during the two hours I was in recovery post c-section.
Since I knew that b was not an option, we decided to tackle the first option and got in touch with my husband’s doctor. We explained the story and she immediately issued a blood type test order for my husband. But, right when we thought he could go take the test, they discovered that the baby had a heart murmur and we were immediately sent down for an EKG. Between the jaundice and EKG, we forgot about the blood type and just concentrated on getting the baby home and making sure he was healthy.
I thought about his blood type again days later, while standing next to the bima at his bris. And, as the Mohel started singing and calling each person up to perform his task during the ceremony, I said a little prayer that I was not just about to allow the Mohel to cut someone else’s baby.
The next morning, my husband left the house early and went straight for his blood test. I spent the next 2 days (I don’t know WHY it took 2 days to get the results!) in a stressed state. We imagined all of these worst case scenarios, which included that his blood type came back B+ and that we would have to then ask for a paternity test. I held myself back from fully bonding with my baby, afraid that he wasn’t really ours and that I would have to give him up. That was probably the hardest to do, since I was falling in love with him each and every time I sat down to nurse him, when I stroked his hair, as he slept scrunched up on my chest with his tiny fingers curled around the straps of my tank top.
And just as I started to wonder where my baby was, if this was not my child, my husband got an SMS from our health insurance provider.
His blood type: A+
I cannot explain the relief I felt in that moment. We both felt such relief that this was, in fact, our child. That no one would come and take him from us. That we could finally put everything behind us and truly focus on bonding with our baby.
And that’s exactly what we did.