12, well 13 week scan
So time for the 12 week dating scan. Which fell on when I was estimated to be 13 weeks bang on. We left for the hospital quite early as we don’t live far and chose to walk. I was armed with a few cereal bars and litre bottle of Volvic. They ask you to drink 500ml of water an hour before the scan as a full bladder will make finding the uterus easier. At this stage the baby is only 6cm long so that full bladder is very needed, although so is the need to pee after you have drunk that much fluid. We arrived in plenty of time and booked in. Then were shown the vending machine that you pay a small fee for photos of the ultra sound. We chose to get two pictures one for each of us and then sat down and waited. Now I had read up a lot about this scan and the midwife had given me a leaflet about the screening tests they can do at this stage so I was prepared and had decided to go for the nuchal translucency and combined blood test.
This is where they measure the amount of fluid at the back of the babies neck and take a blood sample from the mother to measure two different hormone levels. Human chorionic gonadotrophin hormone (HCG) and Pregnancy associated plasma protein A (PAPPA). HCG is the hormone secreted by the placenta after implantation of the foetus. These levels rise constantly until around 12 weeks when the placenta is fully formed and takes over the role of feeding that baby. HCG is what makes you throw up and high HCG levels are what cause Hyperemesis gravidarum. Now although I felt like I had this I did not, and for anyone who has had HG I take my hat off to you because I had days where I felt like I wanted to just lie on the bathroom floor and just pass out so I could get some relief. But to have this throughout the whole pregnancy and spend the majority of that in hospital on a drip because you throw up so much you collapse with dehydration. I think these people are amazingly strong. Nine months is a long time when you are constantly ill. One of my cousins had this with both of her pregnancies and she now has two lovely, happy and healthy children. So if this affects you remember you can do it and you will have a wonderful baby at the end of it all.
The second Hormone, PAPPA is used to show issues with the placenta. The levels of these hormones together and the measurement of the nuchal translucency are combined with the mothers age to give a risk factor for the three most common chromosomal abnormalities. Trisomy’s 13, 18 and 21. These are Edward’s syndrome, Patau’s syndrome and Down’s syndrome. The risk factor is given to you in the form of 1 in 500 for example. If a woman gets a high risk result she is advised to have further tests to get a definitive diagnosis as this is only a risk factor and cannot say for sure if the baby has one of these problems or not. Now Trisomy 13 and 18 are generally considered to be “not compatible with life” which is what I read in the leaflets and with a diagnosis of this many women are offered termination of the pregnancy. Trisomy 21 on the other hand is “compatible with life” and if you have ever met a child or an adult with down’s syndrome you will know that although they may have special needs they do not suffer with their syndrome and are generally very happy and affectionate people. So there is your back ground information if you ever are asked if you want this screening test I hope this helps you understand whats involved so you can make an informed decision as to whether this test is for you or not.
Anyway back to the scan so after deciding to have this done as its not a problem for me, just an extra measurement on the scan and a quick blood test which I am fine with. We wait to be called in and then when I am called we both go into the darkened room together and the ultrasonographer asks me to lie down on the bed. She quickly checks my details and that I am who she has on her list. Then tells me what she is about to do. There is a second screen next to the bed so we can watch. Now by this point I am more than a little nervous. I was fine waiting but once I’m lying there the anxiety creeps in. What if there is no baby, what if there is no heart beat, what if its twins! I don’t know how I would cope with any of those. So many people know now, what would I say to them if I had lost the baby. This fear was immediately dispelled as soon as she placed the probe on my belly. There on the scene was a clear bean shaped baby and a fluttering heart beat right where it should be. And it was jumping. As she moved the probe around it would twitch and flick its arms. My baby was alive and well and there was only one! The relief was amazing. Other than the constant vomiting I did not feel pregnant but now I had proof. She did a few measurements and then said she thought I was not as far along as I thought I was and put me at 12 weeks and 6 days. One day back, big deal. Then came the nuchal translucency measurement. Now again I had googled this (Im a need to know everything kind of girl) and read that anything under 3mm was considered normal. First measurement was 3.1mm. Hmm, high end of normal, then another of 2.6mm normal but not the 1mm I was expecting. She did a few more and came out with an average of 2.7mm. now this is in the normal range but seeing the first 3.1mm on the screen flashed a tiny warning light in my head. I wasn’t worried really just had a tiny gut feeling that something was not right but pushed it immediately to the back of my head. I had a baby and it was alive and moving around and that is all I cared about. She printed off two pictures for us which although clearly show a baby, but it still looks like a bean with the cord coming out of its mouth.
So out we go pictures in hand back to the waiting room to be called for the blood test. When I am called my husband stayed behind as he is not good with blood and needles. Again the nurse has a quick chat with me to check who I am and that I understand what this is for then she takes some blood which took about 5 seconds. Really not that bad at all. And I’m back out waiting for my notes. When my notes come back though they tell me to check my booking for the 20 week scan as my dates will have changed, which when I checked was fine anyway so no need to change the appointment for that scan at all. Off home we go to share the news to the greater world of facebook and send whatsApp pictures to family of the bean inside me. Then we go for a celebratory lunch out where I attempted to eat and keep it down. I didn’t, but morning sickness does not stop just because you had a scan. Later that evening I was sitting quietly watching tv and I felt a little tickling down low on the right side of my abdomen. Im quite in tune with my body and have IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) so I know what all the normal spasms and bubbling feel like, but this was different, I had never had a feeling like it before. It was kind of like when you get a muscle twitch but on the inside. Could this have been my first twitch and kick of my baby moving inside me?