I’ve mentioned my antibodies before in a previous post. My blood is a rare type but it’s only an issue when I’m pregnant, or, I imagine, if I ever need a blood or organ transplant. Most people know about the Rhesus issue (when a mother’s blood type does not match her baby’s and therefore forms antibodies in an immune response). I am Rhesus negative, but as yet I have not formed Rhesus antibodies (anti-D), although this is inconclusive at the moment…
My blood is carrying a rare antibody called anti-S. It is separate to the Rhesus thing. At some stage in the early days of my first pregnancy, my blood mixed with Georgia’s and I formed antibodies. Basically, my blood sees my baby’s blood as an enemy that needs to be tracked down and destroyed by an army of antibodies. Our babies will always be S+ (I am S-) because Monte is a homogenous S+ whereas I am a homogenous S-. It will be interesting to see if my sisters develop anti-S in their future pregnancies. Afterall, they have similar genes to me.
There are a few antibodies such as anti-s, anti-S, anti-e, anti-k and anti-D. Most of them are rare; anti-D is the most common and there are now injections that Rhesus negative women receive in pregnancy so their blood does not form antibodies against their baby’s blood. The principles of Rhesus incompatibility are used in the case of anti-S sensitisation. In other words, what happens with anti-D could happen with anti-S, although it might not be as severe.
When I was pregnant with Georgia (#1) my antibody level rose, by 28 weeks, to a high level of 128. I had to have a couple of amnios to check that she was not anaemic. The delightful baby was born 3 weeks early after an “easy” drug-free 3-hour labour and at a very healthy 3.66kg to boot. What a gorgeous, ruddy, chunky, pretty baby she was. There were no signs of anaemia but she was slightly jaundiced, but she did not require any light therapy. My antibodies were more stable with Matthew, only rising to 64 (which is actually high – 32 is considered high). I had to be induced early with him too. He was a healthy 4kg and was born perhaps too quickly but apparently he was not affected by my crazy mean blood.
This pregnancy, my antibodies have risen quickly, from 8 in my first blood test, to 32 8 weeks later and then to 64 a month later. No longer do I have to go through blood tests. My antibodies are considered high and they will not go down – only up, what joy. Instead of blood tests I am having fortnightly or weekly ultrasounds to check baby for anaemia. Technology is amazing. The baby’s pulse in the middle cerebral artery (MCA) is being measured. An increase in pulse will suggest baby is anaemic. MCA dopplers are much nicer than amnios. It’s less intrusive, especially if you have a nice sonographer who does not press too hard on my belly! I imagine that if baby starts getting anaemic, it will receive blood transfusions (which will potentially make my antibodies stir to an even higher level, as our bloods are mixed further). I imagine that if the stage is reached when baby is better off outside my body than in it, I will be induced.
Most people might think that I am unlucky or that I must be eternally concerned for the wellbeing of my unborn child. Of course I am concerned about my children’s health and safety. I know that baby is in good hands and as yet baby is not anaemic. I feel really totally blessed to be able to conceive a child so easily. I think that medical science is developed enough to watch my child and me closely enough to avoid problems that have, in the past, been associated with HDN (haemolytic disease of the newborn).