get through and get on: what’s going on with Silas

Around the 35th week of my pregnancy, I had a quick ultrasound to monitor Silas’ growth (remember Big Otis?).  As predicted, he was a big ‘un! 

But surprisingly, they also discovered that one of his kidneys was bigger than the other.  The OB that week breezily said, “oh, by the way…on your ultrasound, one of your baby’s kidneys is measuring large.  Just make sure to mention that to someone in the hospital after he’s delivered.”


Our family began praying then.  I did the worst possible thing: Internet research.  Thankfully, most everything I found said that it’s fairly common for boy babies to have this problem, and it typically clears up on its own.  A few mentioned kidney failure at worst. 

So after he was born…we mentioned it.  Silas was scheduled for a renal ultrasound at three weeks old, at which point we learned that his kidney still measured larger than the other…but again, it would most likely clear up on its own.

We were given a name, one I could dominate a Scrabble game with if given the opportunity: hydronephrosis. Basically, there’s a blockage between one of the kidneys and the ureter (the tube going from the kidney to the bladder).  This causes urine to back up into the kidney and cause it to swell. 

The phrases of this season: “it’s not a big deal” “it’s common” “it’ll be okay”

My inner thoughts: “!!!!!?!?!???!!!!”

And I know—in the scheme of all that goes wrong with babies, this is small.  But it’s what we are going through, it’s the worst I’ve known with him, and so I carry this tiny burden close.  Does that make sense?

I haven’t written about the issue here because I wanted to believe it would go away.  But after a procedure called a voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG), though we had some answers, we also knew that the problem remained.  At this point, we had to wait for another ultrasound and then the surgery talk would have to begin.

A VCUG consists of inserting a catheter (yes, they make them that small) into the bladder, filling it with dye, and watching what the “urine” does.  They want to make sure that none of it is refluxing into the kidney, causing the swelling.  I was a wreck, standing in a lead apron beside Mr. Ables as two nurses pinned a wailing and flailing Silas down.  Though it was over in an instant, my maternal instincts were on high alert.

Again, at that time, the same consolations: “it’s common” “it’ll probably clear up on its own.” There was no reflux. 

After his second renal (kidney) ultrasound, I became more concerned.  Now I knew what to look for, and even my untrained eyes could recognize his swollen kidney. To me, it seemed to fill his abdomen. At this point, we were told that Silas would have to have a renal scan, and soon. 

While an ultrasound focuses mainly on outside anatomy of the kidney, a renal scan will tell us exactly what is going on inside.  Sounds like a good idea, right?

And it is.  It’s just the procedure that we face tomorrow that preoccupies my thoughts today. 

Tomorrow morning, we’ll check in to the hospital.  After the typical paperwork and workups, they’ll start Silas on an IV, which they’ll fill with a solution that they can then see with a camera as they try to determine what is causing the obstruction.  This process will take a couple of hours, and Silas will have to remain perfectly still for that entire time, which means that he’ll have to be sedated.



I can’t seem to process what tomorrow will be like, how he’ll react.  How I’LL react. 

I cling to the simple truth that it IS a small thing.  That overall he’s a healthy, smiley boy.  A gift the likes of which I can’t comprehend.  I know we’ll get through it tomorrow, and get on with the joy of living. 

It’s times like this that motherhood aches. 

My prayers are small, but today even the silence of what I can’t wrap words around is holy and understood.