Baby No. 2 ~ 12-Week Scan Complications
As you will have guessed from the title… baby no.2 is on the way and we couldn’t be any more thrilled!
That being said, so far things haven’t gone as swimmingly as they could have done, hence the late announcement. But I’ll explain more about that in a moment.
First, I should probably give a bit of background story for anyone who might be wondering why, for us and any other couple’s suffering from infertility, it’s a huge deal and not as easy to come by as it is for others. You can also read a little more about it here… Unexplained Infertility ~ A personal experience.
Long story short – our first fresh IVF cycle resulted in a beautiful healthy baby girl and two further embryos that were frozen for later use. In December 2019 we used one of the frozen embryo’s but unfortunately, this ended with a negative pregnancy test. A few months later we decided to use the second embryo with every hope that this would be the one to stick. Sadly it didn’t.
It took a while to get our heads around the thought that unless we did a full fresh cycle all over again, we were left with no option of having another biological child. Although it took me more so than hubby a while to come to the decision, we eventually decided to give it one more go.
So, another full fresh IVF cycle later & £6k (ish) lighter we had a fresh embryo transfer on 11th Nov 2020 with the highest quality embryo and a further 4 headed to the freezer for possible later use. Given the two failed Frozen transfers, we were not holding out much hope for another frozen transfer so we were thrilled we were able to have a fresh transfer. Although, with a full-on pandemic on the go, it was touch and go for a moment.
Following the transfer and the dreaded two-week wait, test day was finally upon us. I did the usual and well-practised pee in the plastic container, the same one I’ve used for all the tests I’ve taken (cleaned after each use – obviously). My OH came into the bathroom just as I was dipping the stick in the pee and holding it there for 10 seconds (or whatever the recommended time was). Then I placed it horizontally on top of the container and left the bathroom telling my OH I didn’t want to look.
After what felt like a lifetime, my OH came into the bedroom where I nervously waited and said something I was not expecting “you need to come and check because I’m not sure”. Initially, I was flabbergasted, surely it wasn’t that difficult to figure it out, there are either two lines on the stick or there isn’t. You can’t really get it wrong. Then it slowly dawned on me, I knew this man well and there’s no way he wouldn’t know how to read a bloody pregnancy test as if we weren’t used to the process by now.
Hope took hold. The realisation that for him to tease me like this could only mean one thing, it was positive. Going back into the bathroom with him trying to keep up the pretense of playing dumb and the smile off his face, I checked the stick myself and burst into tears upon seeing those two precious lines indicating the test was positive.
Obviously, we then tested with another test, just to make sure.
From that moment on the excitement at the prospect of finally being able to expand our family with a second child and a sibling for our 3-year-old took firm root.
The 7-week scan came around and I got to see a little frog-looking blob on the screen, yolk sac and all. Finally, confirmation that we were in fact expecting. I took the little scan picture out to hubby who was eagerly waiting in the car (due to Covid-19 restrictions) and we spent the next few weeks loving our little secret and looking forward to the 12-week scan – the next milestone that needed crossing.
Two things were different from my first pregnancy 12-week scan. One, we are in the middle of a pandemic and unfortunately, my partner wasn’t allowed in for the scan. And two, the scan didn’t end the same way my first scan did.
During my scans for my first pregnancy, each scan was textbook. We got to see an active healthy baby and left the scan eagerly looking forward to the next one.
This time, the scan started as I expected it would. Well, except for the sonographer explaining it would be a trainee sonographer doing the initial checks but the trained sonographer would check everything was correct afterward. Anyone going into the medical field needs to train with real people at some point and as I didn’t have to get my lady bits out, I was more than happy with this.
So with that, I hopped up on the bed and within a minute or two my baby popped up on the TV screen opposite and I got to see my tiny 13-week old baby’s heart beating in its chest while it moved its limbs around and opened and closed its mouth. Then, at the end of the scan, the trained sonographer took over and did a quick once over, checking baby from head to toe. The last thing she checked was the nuchal translucency at the back of the baby’s neck. This is a test they do to see if there is any risk of the baby having a chromosomal issue.
Unfortunately, this is where things took a worrying turn.
When the scan doesn’t go to plan
The sonographer kept repositioning the scanner (or whatever the bit is called they roll over your stomach to get the image) and remeasured the same area at the back of the neck each time as if she was double, triple, and even quadruple checking the measurement.
Once I was back off the bed and fully dressed she explained the nuchal fold at the back of the neck was a little thicker than they liked. She was going to fetch someone from the FMU (fetal medicine unit) to sit down and go through what that meant for us going forward.
My heart sank. Well, to be honest, my heart sank before that point. While laying on the bed and realising she kept rechecking the same area, I knew something wasn’t right. But as soon as she confirmed my fears, I felt tears spring to my eyes. I just managed to hold back the emotion instead of turning into a blubbering mess in the middle of the very public waiting area. At this point, I was glad my other half wasn’t with me, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to hold back the tears if he were there.
After waiting 5 minutes or so, all the while thinking the absolute worst, the FMU lady came along to take me off to the private room to talk it all through.
For anyone completely unaware of the Nuchal Translucency test, I’ve gone into a little more detail about it in another post. You can find it here Abnormal Nuchal Translucency Screening
To cut a very long story short, the FMU doctor explained they were concerned about our baby’s NT (Nuchal Translucency) thickness. Anything over 3.5mm was out of the normal range. Ours being 4.2mm meant our child was at risk of having one of the three main chromosome disorders; Downs syndrome, Edwards Syndrome & Patau Syndrome. She briefly explained what these disorders are and that I would need a blood test to further determine our risk which would take other factors into account.
They took my blood to complete the tests and I left the hospital in a bit of a mess. Thankfully, my partner was waiting in the car park for me. We headed home with me explaining to him what I’d just been told the best I could through the tears.
Blood test results
We spent the next two days waiting for the call with the blood test results. For anyone who has experienced this before, you’ll know a lot of things go through your head at this point. I’m very grateful I have a partner who does everything he can to alleviate my worries, even though I know he’s just as worried as I am. So he spent most of the two days trying, in vain of course, to reassure me. Telling me there’s no point in worrying until we have things confirmed, either by tests or further scans.
When we finally received the call, it was not what we wanted to hear. After completing blood tests, it was estimated that we had a 1 in 57 chance of having a child with Down Syndrome and therefore considered high risk. We were made aware of further testing that was available to us, CVS, Amniocentesis & NIPT, and what each one would tell us (take a look at Abnormal Nuchal Translucency Screening where I’ve explained these tests in more detail).
We never expected to be in this position. Although we knew we would continue with the pregnancy regardless, we also wanted to see if we were able to find out for sure if our child had Downs, more so we could prepare ourselves and do as much research as possible before our little bundle arrived. So with that in mind, we opted for a more in-depth but non-invasive blood test, the NIPT.
Discussing the possibility of Down Syndrome
During this waiting period, we both discussed how we would feel, should we find our child has down syndrome. Having a family member with down syndrome and understanding some of the challenges that come with the condition, it didn’t take long to agree, we would absolutely continue with the pregnancy. The alternative wasn’t really a consideration for either of us.
I do feel it’s important for any couple to be on the same page when it comes to these things. It really is worth having the conversation even when just planning for kids.
Where we are now…
As it stands we are 14 weeks along and awaiting our results back from the NIPT test. Honestly, we are kind of expecting the worst. But after doing much googling and forum scrolling, I’m maintaining a little optimism. Many people who have had similar results as ours i.e. the NT reading of 4.2mm, also went on to have the NIPT test and found they are actually very low risk.
To be honest I find myself feeling guilty for hoping our results come back clear. We have a family member with Down Syndrome. He lives a beautifully full and meaningful life. He brings laughter & light to the family and always has a huge smile on his face. But I also know, with the various medical issues aside, sometimes he feels sad that he can’t have the same things his siblings have. He would love his own home, a full-time job, complete independence and a family of his own.
We all just want the absolute best for our children. It breaks my heart at the thought of my kids not being able to experience the things they knew were possible for others, but just not for them.
Regardless, I know we will do everything in our power to give our children the best life we can give.
Until our results come back, I’m trying to put everything out of my mind and continue to enjoy this pregnancy. I should also point out, as far as pregnancy symptoms go, I’ve had it pretty easy, so at least there’s that.
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