This morning we had our early anatomy scan, at 17 weeks. Spoiler alert: it’s all good news! But man oh man, have I been a mess until now. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day we found out our daughter died, and next week our son hits the same gestational stage. I’ve been… a little bit of a wreck the last few days. This morning I woke up at 2:30am with my mind buzzing full of worries about anatomy — I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I picked up a book, “read” it for a while, and finally fell back asleep around 3:30. Then I got up with the dog at 6:30, went downstairs, turned on my laptop, and read the horrifyingly sad post by Sweeping Up the Broken Pieces about her second bout with neural tube defects (which is probably going to lead to her third TFMR), which was just discovered on ultrasound this week. I sobbed for her. I’m not linking to her blog here, because I don’t want any pingbacks to what has turned out to be happy news for us to hit her at a vulnerable time, but seriously, if you don’t already follow her blog, head over there and give her some support (just google “Sweeping Up the Broken Pieces blog”). The universe is a crappy place sometimes, and it’s being particularly crappy to her right now.
With all that buzzing in my mind, we loaded up the car this morning (my mom had driven from two hours away to come to the anatomy scan with us) and headed down to MFM. They were running way behind, and our ultrasound took place almost an hour after it had been originally scheduled, so I got to spend plenty of time biting my nails and discussing choroid plexus cysts with my mom (who is a women’s health nurse practitioner) in the waiting room. Our sonographer was soft-spoken and reassuring (I asked her to tell us as much as she could during the scan), and as she snapped measurement after measurement and I slowly started to realize that maybe everything would be OK this time, the tears started rolling down my cheeks. I managed to hold it together enough that I don’t think anyone else realized I was crying (if the sonographer did, she didn’t say anything). But it was just so emotional after the horrific ultrasound 364 days ago in which the OB made the same measurements on our lifeless daughter that it just totally undid me to finally see a healthy wriggling fetus at last.
The scan went on so long that my husband started yawning (after all, he had been inadvertently woken up by a freaked-out pregnant lady at 3am), and I almost fell asleep. Apparently our little guy was being super-stubborn about getting into a position that would work for one particular view of the heart that they wanted to get. The sonographer called in the doctor, who tried unsuccessfully for a while, and then after a break the sonographer tried again. They tried everything — lots of tummy jiggling, running the ultrasound transducer up past my belly button to get a sideways view, tilting the table until I felt like I was going to slide off head-first (by that point the doctor had come in, and he was much more taciturn — he just said, “hold onto the sides, please,” and I really think I would have fallen off if I hadn’t!), and finally having me get up and walk around to try to get our little fellow to turn. But nothing worked, and eventually they gave up and said they could either have me come back for a short ultrasound next week just for this one snapshot of the heart, or they could just do it when I come in for my regularly-scheduled growth scan in four weeks. Since everything else looked normal (including every other view of the heart — four chambers, arteries, whatever else), we decided we could wait four weeks to tick the last box on the anatomy scan, and for now at least I’m feeling completely OK with that plan.
Everything else looked great — amazing, really. Tiny kidneys, brain, spinal cord, some cute shots of his nose and lips, fingers, feet (and, yup, a penis!) — all parts present and accounted for. There were a bunch of really neat color Doppler images of blood flow through the heart, umbilical cord, and arteries — you could even see the tidy spiral of the blood vessels around the umbilical cord. Our boy was more active at the beginning of the scan, wriggling and moving his arms and legs, and then I think he fell asleep at some point (my mom said they generally have ~half-hour sleep/wake cycles at this point, and indeed, it was about half an hour into the scan that he seemed to want to take a break and rest, in that unfortunately inconvenient position). Then we had a quick check-in with one of the MFM attendings to talk about adjusting my Lovenox prescription, and finally headed home just in time for lunch.
It’ll be another week and a half until I’m more pregnant than I’ve ever been before, but it’s really exciting to (mostly) pass a milestone — a normal anatomy scan — that I never reached in my first pregnancy. I still know that anything could happen with the placenta, and that abruption risk has nothing to do with fetal anatomy, but it still feels like something new, different, and GOOD, which is a really nice feeling to have. Hopefully this good news will carry me through the emotional minefield of the next week and a half.
So that’s our story! I continue to have freak-outs, and we continue to have nothing but good news at every turn. I’m showing enough now that I’ve gotten my first “Are you sure there’s only one in there?!” (from a retired old bachelor scientist), and people are starting to notice before I tell them. I still haven’t had the nerve to bring it up with any students (even my research group, which is starting to be problematic as they make their plans for the year), but that will inevitably happen soon. Every week feels a little bit more real, and today was a huge step towards believing that maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to bring home a living child this February.