It was week 8 of my pregnancy, and my baby was the size of a green olive.
I was sent for a “dating ultrasound” around this time, to determine exactly how far along I was. My ultrasound took approximately an hour for the technician to complete, and I remember feeling odd that it was taking ‘so long’; although when we left for hospital, I felt at ease, especially after hearing my baby’s heartbeat. “Okay”, I thought. This is real now.
My ultrasound was in the late afternoon, so after it was done, my partner and I headed home for the rest of the day.
Once we were home, it had been about an hour after my ultrasound, and my cellphone started to ring.
It was my doctor.
Her voice was low, and strict, and by this I knew something wasn’t ‘right’ with my ultrasound. She began to explain that the ultrasound technician noticed something that was a red flag. She explained that a fetus (hate using that word) at 8 weeks should NOT have a liquid bubble (called nuchal translucency) on the back of their neck, but my baby did. “It’s a red flag to us because it raises suspicion that the baby many have a chromosomal disorder (like Down’s Syndrome), or an issue with an organ”, she said. She further explained that they couldn’t do another ultrasound until I was 12 weeks along, to see if the liquid bubble had disappeared, or if it was still on the back of the neck.
Week 12 Ultrasound:
I was (sent) to the Fetal Assessment Department in the Health Sciences Centre for the ultrasound. Sitting in the waiting room, I was a bomb waiting to combust. I couldn’t sit still. My palms were sweaty, and I could feel my heartbeat in my throat. It was already so nerve racking that #1 – I was pregnant. And now #2 – we were about to find out if there was something wrong with this innocent baby who growing so quickly in my tummy.
We were called in, and brought into a warm and dark room. I hopped up on the bed, and the technician asked me the following questions “What is your name? What is your date of birth? Do you know the reason why you are here?” When she asked me the last question, I had the toughest time answering it. My throat choked up, and very sadly I said “they think there is something wrong with my baby”.
The technician then preformed the ultrasound. The entire time I lay there, I couldn’t stop praying (and I am not a religious person). All I wanted was for her to say everything was okay.
Unfortunately, that was not the news we received.
Another doctor came in, and also performed the ultrasound on my little belly. She lifted the (), looked at me and said “the nuchal liquid is still present, so this could mean the baby may have a chromosomal concern, or it could mean nothing at all. Sometimes babies do have the nuchal translucency fluid for longer and eventually it disappears, but USUALLY this is an indication to us that there is a problem”.
My heart cracked in half. I could not believe what I was hearing. A chromosomal disorder? What? Down’s Syndrome? I didn’t even know what this meant. I was so lost, and truly I don’t really remember what happened next. I remember being brought into a “family room”, where a genetic counselor sat down with us and explained the different kinds of chromosomal disorders that are most common.
She explained there was a blood test that would rule out any chromosomal disorders, it was covered by Manitoba Health, but it was only done at 14 gestational weeks of age (and I was only 12). She also said that there was a similar blood test that could be done that day, or sooner than 14 gestational weeks, but it wasn’t covered by Manitoba Health, and it would cost us $500.00.
My partner and I were going to be on a Cruise in January, during the time I would have been 14 weeks pregnant, so we decided to go ahead with getting the blood test don that day, so while away on our trip we would actually be able to enjoy our getaway, regardless of the results of the test.
So, for the next () weeks, I impatiently waited for week to appear. I counted down every day, and couldn’t wait for the time to pass and for the day to come when we would truly find out WHAT was going on with our baby.
On December 24th, I received, that somewhat was, the best news of my life. A genetic counselor from the Health Sciences Centre called me right at 8:30am, Christmas Eve morning. She said “so, I have here the results of your blood test…”. “The results show that your baby would have a 1 in 100,000 percent chance of having any kind of chromosomal disorder”. (basically meaning a chromosomal disorder was out of the question). GOOD NEWS! Then she asked “now I’m sure you know, but with this test we were able to determine the gender of the baby, would you like to know?”
“Our test shows………… “it’s a girl”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Best. Christmas. Gift. I will ever receive, and have ever received in my life.
I was crying, from joy. From the amazing news. Our baby didn’t have a chromosomal disorder, and our baby WAS A GIRL! I felt like a thousand pounds had been lifted off my shoulders.
The genetic counselor added as we were about to end the conversation, “now, that doesn’t mean that we are out of the woods, it could still mean there is something wrong with an organ, but we won’t be able to determine that until she is 20 weeks along, and all the organs have developed”.
Honestly, I barely listened to what else she had to say after that. I was already so happy because it was Christmas Eve, and I was bringing my partner home for the first time that afternoon, and then receiving the great news about Mckenna made me feel like there was nothing in the world that could get me down; I was on cloud 9, and convinced I was the happiest girl alive.
Just a scare, I thought.
Week 20 Ultrasound – “Anatomy Ultrasound”:
The purpose of an anatomy ultrasound is assess all the babies organs have developed properly, and that the baby is growing the way he/she should be.
I was back at the Fetal Assessment Department at the Health Sciences Centre; I went to this appointment alone, with the thinking that the prior issues had been ruled out, there shouldn’t be a worry that there would be anything else wrong. Oh how I wish I didn’t go to that appointment alone.
Yet another ultrasound was preformed, and it was neat again to see my baby. Half the time I didn’t know what part, or what, the technician was looking at, but I felt a sense of pride to see the little human I was growing. After some time had passed, close to an hour, I began to worry again. The exact same thing was happening all over again. This ultrasound was taking too long, and my gut was telling me something wasn’t right.
The exact moment I knew something was wrong was when the technician told me she was going to get a doctor to come and look at ‘something’ on my ultrasound.
The doctor came in, and did her thing. After 10 minutes, she took the ultrasound wand off my belly and placed it in its holder, put her head down, and paused.
That pause felt like an eternity.
She said… “Darby, there is something wrong with your babies heart”.
At this moment, I actually don’t even have the words to describe how I was feeling. It’s so hard to remember. I blacked out, actually. I pulled my shirt over my face, and I know I started to shake and scream on the bed, because the doctor and technician jumped to try calm me.
I could tell how bad the doctor felt for having to tell me that when I was alone.
I felt like in that moment my life stopped. My life changed entirely. I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t have words. All I remember saying aloud was “I knew it, I knew!” I screamed.
The doctor told me to call my partner to come to the hospital, and he did. He answered hello, and all I could scream was “there’s something wrong with her heart!!! Come!!!”
Four days later, we met with Manitoba’s only fetal cardiologist, and she did her own ultrasound, and explained to us her findings, and what the issues were.
I explain what the issues are in my blog post titled “Mckenna’s Complicated Heart”.
From my heart to yours,
– d ♥
In the picture below… in the second picture, you can see Mckenna’s nuchal translucency on the back of her neck – Mckenna at her 12 week ultrasound – kind of neat!