Today, I got an abdominal ultrasound (not deep enough to see baby) and we discovered that I have a herniated pocket of brown fat (the kind that cushions and insulates internal organs). I had suspected that I have been experiencing an umbilical hernia, and it was confirmed. Somehow that pocket of fat made itself through my abdominal muscle wall and is now stuck, inflamed and dying between my ab muscles and connective tissue/skin. That's why it hurts. There didn't appear to be a separation of the muscle, so if at some point there was, it appears either to have reconnected, or its so thin right now, it was impossible to know if there is a breech. Regardless, I have that pocket of stuff that isn't supposed to be there that will probably correct itself in time. The radiologist said that my body will naturally be able to break it down and be removed; possibly before the baby is born. I should have asked how long that process ought to take, but right now I'm just hoping and praying that is happens before labor starts. I feel like this is a time when the prayers of others would be greatly appreciated that the mass can be removed (by my friends the phagocytes) quickly and efficiently so the baby's birth can be unhindered.
On a funny note, the radiology technician was at first very confused by what she saw when using the ultrasound on my bellybutton. I don't blame her, its not like she's done many (if any) abdominal ultrasounds on a 38 week pregnant woman. At one point, she said that she wished there was another pregnant woman nearby who was not complaining of pain in the region that she could compare in order to see what the normal physiology looked liked. Surprisingly enough, when she went out of the room to consult with the doctor of radiology on call, the doctor was a 36 week pregnant woman who was gracious enough to become a test subject for a moment. Together, they looked at the normal physiology between the doctor's bellybutton and abdominal wall and were able to determine that the little bubble of fluid and mass of tissue that they were seeing was abnormal. I'm grateful for the coincidence that the pregnant doctor was on call and that she was willing to expose her belly for me.
And now if you are ready for some science, essentially the break down process of that fat deposit should work like this: The cells in that pocket are beginning to die off. The body has a system to removed dead and and dying cells: phagocytes which are found in white blood cells. The fat deposit should begin to attract the phagocytes to the area through a process called apoptosis where the dying cells communicate that they are being starved of blood supply (likely because its trapped and being compressed between my abdominal wall and skin layers). The phagocytes are then supposed to come along and do their work on the dying cells.
Now, I feel like I need to come up with a name for my new friend that is causing me so much discomfort, and hope that it goes away very soon.
Its nice to have an explanation for my pain and comforting that its something that can correct on its own, and that no scary procedures are necessary. Once again, I'll be turning to my Father in Heaven in order to determine if any further steps are needed on my part. Definitely there will be prayer for the quick breakdown and absorption of those wayward fat cells.