20 weeks. We are halfway to meeting our little girl!
The halfway point usually starts to bring a little more excitement to the pregnancy journey. Whether that is putting the nursery together, stocking up on more baby items such as clothes, swaddles, diapers, and bottles, or finally finding out the gender and picking out a name.
For me (and my husband and parents), at least this time around, this week brought with it a much-needed dose of relief.
It is no secret that I have been much more anxious and worried throughout this pregnancy than I was with my first. I believe it is because I am hyper-aware of everything that could go wrong. I have done this pregnancy thing before. I know at what step during the process things should happen, how the baby should look, and how things should feel. I know all the possible complications and issues. I also know you’re not supposed to compare one pregnancy to another because each pregnancy and baby is different, but it is honestly hard not to do.
My first pregnancy with my son was perfect. I feel as if using the word perfect is silly because nothing is ever truly perfect, but to me, that is how it felt. With my son, each scan, test, and check-up brought results that needed no further questioning or testing. He was growing and developing as expected with all the numbers and results that pointed to a perfectly healthy baby.
For this pregnancy, the situation was the same. Test results looked perfect. Numbers were falling into the ranges they needed to. At least that is how it was up until my 19-week anatomy scan last week.
As I laid there while the tech performed the ultrasound, with my husband and son sitting next to me, I couldn’t help but think that she was spending quite a bit of extra time looking at baby girl’s heart. After taking quite a few photos of it she questioned why I didn’t have a doctor’s appointment immediately following my U/S. She stepped out of the room to go see if my doctor had time to meet with me and that is when I knew. She found something.
My husband, son, and I were taken into a room. My doctor came in about fifteen minutes later and started throwing some big and scary terms around.
Relation to Trisomy and Down’s Syndrome.
I didn’t know what to think. Both my husband and I said at the same time, “wait, what is the issue?” No one had told us what the actual issue was that was found but my doctor was under the impression either the tech or a nurse had. He apologized profusely and explained.
They had found an anomaly on her heart. Echogenic intracardiac focus to be exact.
Now, I don’t know if I had known that an EIF was what was found before my doctor came in if I wouldn’t have worried so much when he mentioned those terms. That I will never know. But since those were the first two things I heard I obviously went straight to the worst-case scenario.
EIF is relatively common. It shows up as a bright spot on the ultrasound and for those that have zero other markers, it typically goes away by the third trimester and is nothing to worry about. Meaning, it is a soft marker so usually, if it shows up by itself with no other markers then it is nothing to worry about. On the other side, if you had the previous testing done and those showed markers for a chromosomal disorder then EIF will likely be another marker found.
Despite my doctor telling me that my cell-free fetal DNA test already showed that baby girl had an extremely low chance of having any chromosomal anomalies (which I already knew) and he was 99.9% sure this was just some calcification on her heart muscle and that this was absolutely nothing to worry about, I worried.
How could I not? I am a mom and I want nothing more than for my child to be perfectly healthy. I worry when my son gets a fever over 99* so how could I be expected not to worry about this? Especially since it is something wrong with my unborn child.
We discussed the EIF, what it meant, what it didn’t mean, and told me that he was going to send me to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Duke to have a level two ultrasound performed. He told me not to worry and to embrace this ultrasound as a great way to see my baby in a more advanced way that most women usually don’t have the opportunity to as they would be checking each individual bone on its own instead of an overall scan.
Queue more worrying. If there was nothing wrong why was he sending me to a specialist? But I was also thankful because I wanted to find out more and get more reassurance and answers.
We went next door to the Duke Perinatal office where I took the first available appointment. It was in four days and just happened to fall on a day my husband was going to be out of state on a work trip. My husband knew the worrying would keep me up at night and told me to go without him because he would rather me get answers than wait longer so he could go with me. He is truly selfless. I know he was also worried but he didn’t show it. He has this ridiculous ability to keep everything inside so that I don’t worry more. I am truly thankful for that because I already worry enough without knowing he is also worrying.
When we walked out to the car my husband asked if I was ok and I broke down. I then called my mom on the way home and cried more. I was truly helpless and there was nothing I could do to change that.
Two things happened later that afternoon that brought me a small sense of reassurance: the maternal-fetal medicine specialist I was scheduled to see, Dr. R, shares the same first name we have given our daughter and a double rainbow appeared in the sky. I am a believer of small signs and I took these as good ones.
However, the weekend of waiting was one of the longest of my life.
Fast forward to Monday and my level two ultrasound. The tech that performed my scan was extremely thorough. I suppose since she is a specialized ultrasound tech who went to school for much longer than a normal ultrasound tech she was able to actually talk to me and tell me what she was seeing every step of the way.
Each bone measured perfectly. Every brain section was accounted for. Every eye socket, toe and finger bone were present. Every valve was working and pumping as it should. And despite seeing the tiny white speck on her heart, she wasn’t worried.
After the almost forty-five minute scan she left and I waited for Dr. R to come in and review the findings with me.
Long, scary and worrisome story short: baby girl is perfect. Dr. R agrees with my OBGYN that this is absolutely nothing to worry about. All of my previous testing for any anomalies fall in line with the conclusion that this is definitely a soft marker that means nothing when it comes to anything more serious. And despite Dr. R’s percentage being at 99.7% (instead of 99.9%) and telling me that final 0.3% will not be able to be determined until I am holding the baby, I am much more relieved and relaxed.
In the end, nothing would have changed even if something more serious was found. We have loved our little girl so much ever since that pregnancy test came back positive. But I think in a way, you want to be prepared for what waits on the other side. Information is power so why would you not want all the answers you can get? Dr. R has a daughter that also had an EIF and she admitted that, despite her years of schooling and being a specialist of all things having to do with maternal-fetal medicine, she still worried because she is a mom and that is what moms do.
For those friends that did see me this past weekend or sent texts and my responses seemed a bit off, I hope you now understand why. My mind was elsewhere and there was no bringing it back. We chose to keep this information close to home until more answers were found but I also think that sharing not only helps me but it can help someone else that might find themselves in a similar situation.
So cheers to 20 weeks with baby E. I am back to celebrating and enjoying the majority of the pregnancy journey and my worrying is back to what it was before because that will never go away. Worrying is part of the pregnancy process (before and after conception) and is definitely a huge part of being a parent. I am electing to have another anatomy ultrasound to check on baby’s heart and development at 28 weeks just to see how things are looking but at the end of this process when she is born and laying in my arms, she will be perfect no matter what.