We went for our First Trimester Routine Scan today. The purpose of this scan is to ascertain that the fetus is alive (that was the important part) and screen for risk of chromosomal conditions such as Trisomy 21 (Down's) and Trisomy 13 and 18 (that was sort of important). Mr. Turtle was with me.
I don't like suspense (had enough of that these past 3 months!!) and I really don't do cute, so here it is, straight up. Like good whiskey.
Ember is ALIVE AND GROWING.
He/she has a heart rate of 150. And legs, arms, elbows, tiny hands and fingers, a stomach, a bladder and brain. Mr. Turtle's favourite part was when the doctor got a top view of the head and we could see the 2 hemispheres inside.
Ember hung out in a head-down position for the whole scan, despite the doctor trying to get him/her to move into a different position to make it easier to scan. But he/she did move arms and legs around quite a bit, "waving" and showing those tiny hands and fingers. That was my favourite part. And they were able to get all the measurements in the end.
He/she measures 12 weeks, 2 days today (dating revised from previous ultrasound which had put me at 11 weeks, 6 days today.) I'm into the second trimester - YES!! I woke up this morning in the first trimester and had lunch in the second trimester. OK, I know that makes no logical sense but you know what I mean. Based on this scan, Ember's due date has been revised from October 24th to October 21st.
Other than confirming that the fetus is alive (which was most important to us) the FTS also screens for indicators of chromosomal conditions and any birth defects visible at this stage. The screening consists of analysis of maternal blood sample for B-Hcg and PAPP - A, as well as the ultrasound of the fetus. The screen results were negative, which means that the risk of chromosomal conditions such as trisomy 21 (Down's syndrome) and trisomy 18 and 13 are very small. No further testing for these conditions was recommended. That is good news for sure, but the best news is that we have a developing baby.
The next regular scan is at 18-20 weeks and looks at anatomy in more detail.
Now what? Oh my.
Well, I really want to embrace this pregnancy, and our future, with optimism. That has been so hard to do the past few months. There were happy moments - the 7 week scan, for example, that showed an embryo and heartbeat - but any time I had spotting, or some weird if probably harmless symptom, I would hear the little voice in my head say "It was all too good to be true anyway." It is in many ways easier to listen to that little voice than to accept the lightning strike that left behind this little spark of life.
But I want faith instead of fear, hope instead of terror. Seeing Ember today and sharing those moments with Mr. Turtle was a gift, now I have to make the best use of it.
Here's the narrative version of today, now that I've gotten the important part out of the way.
Last night: didn't sleep much at all. Rationally and objectively, I thought we would most likely see a normally-developing Ember today. But, well, if there's room for doubt it fills up all the available space, at least for a pessimist like me. When I got up I had a nice juicy wave of nausea, and my boobs hurt like they were on fire for a few minutes, just to reassure me that wild stuff is still goin' on. We drove to the Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic, where we had never been before. It was very tastefully decorated with comfy chairs, which I found a way to resent Who cares about the decor if this is going to be the worst day of my life. I filled out a small amount of paperwork, and declined a CD of photos from the ultrasound. I couldn't accept the idea of asking for photos when the U/S might show my baby dead. Then I had nothing much to do but hold in pee and studiously ignore all the pregnant people in the room. Nope, still not identifying.
When it was finally our turn, I followed a terribly young tech (or would she be resident??) into the room. She said she was a student but that everything would be observed by the supervising doctor. I whimpered "I really have to peeeeeee" hoping as usual that I would be told to empty my bladder a bit. No such luck, she said cheerfully "That's great!" and invited me to lie on the table. I lay down resigned and thinking this had better be worth it.
I had imagined this U/S going in a variety of ways. Ember would be alive and insane joy would sweep over me. I would melt down in cathartic tears. In reality the first few minutes were very quiet. The tech would say things like "There's the baby" and "The head is pointing down" while I thought but is it alive or dead? I kept waiting for her to find the heartbeat or say something about the heart but she took her time about it, although she did mention the "bloodflow" (through the umbilical cord?) once. Meanwhile I was afraid to ask because I was thinking: She's new at this job - what if this is the first time she's ever had to tell someone their baby is dead? I know, my cheerful thoughts make the world a better place every day.
Meanwhile she was having a bit of challenge with Ember's head-down position. There were none of the typical fetal-side shots for the first few minutes. Mostly amorphous blobs, which I didn't find very reassuring. But at one point a tiny hand with curled fingers waved across the screen. That gave me a little jolt. Fingers are consistent with Ember's gestational age, at least. And then finally, she showed me the heartbeat and counted it. I relaxed a little bit then, and started making some comments on what we were seeing. Various body parts came into view - legs with leg bones, little arms with elbows, a head with what looked vaguely like a face. One shadow was the baby's stomach, another was its bladder. I was finally allowed to pee in hopes that Ember would turn over allowing for the important shot of the nuchal fold. No such luck though, the little one continued to do a headstand.
Finally the supervising doctor came in. She apologized for all the poking and probing, and for asking me to pee over and over again (but seriously, I was fine with that). She took over the camera, and although Ember wouldn't budge for her either, she was able to get a side shot to measure the nuchal fold. Which, for the record is 1.3mm. We also got the typical side view of the baby. By poking the camera rather deep in my pelvis, she also got a top view of the head and baby's brain - we could clearly see the two hemispheres. Ember continued to flail arms and legs a bit, and moved the head a little, I think - but was way too comfy reposing on his/her head to do more.
The atmosphere in the room was quite upbeat by the end. We left the U/S room for a private meeting room, and few minutes later a nurse came in with our report. I am so glad that they gave us the results the same day, and provided a printed report. The nurse seemed rather detached - which Mr. Turtle thought was because she had a glass eye, and was trying to avoid eye contact, and which I thought was because our results were normal and boring and she didn't need to have much emotional engagement. I personally am thrilled to be normal and boring.
Mr. Turtle and I went to lunch - I had salad and half a burger - and then he returned to work, and I returned home to ponder how sometimes what we hope for really does happen.