On Monday, we had our long-awaited appointment for our fetal echocardiogram. You might remember that at our 20 week scan, we had been told that the baby had a calcification on his heart, which was a soft marker for Down Syndrome or other chromosomal disorders.
The doctor specifically told us not to worry and that the echo test would determine whether there was anything to worry about or not. He said a similar thing is found in about 8% of all fetuses, so we took comfort in that knowledge.
When I got home, I did some research, and it did seem that it was a fairly common thing, so I was happy to hold off on the panic I felt threatening. I figured why worry until there was something to worry about? Sure I was nervous, but I was confident it would be okay.
Then I read some forums where I found that doctors generally only decide to go this route if they think there IS something to worry about. If they truly think it’ll go away on its own, they simply wait for it to do so. Further testing is usually only advised if they believe the problem isn’t going to go away.
Then I started to panic a little bit.
Anyway, Monday was D day. Since it came right after my scare on Sunday, I was a little more nervous than I normally might have been. As soon as I arrived, I was taken in for blood pressure and weight checks (fun fact: I have put on about 12 lbs so far!). My blood pressure was a bit higher than usual at 120/92. I generally have low blood pressure, and this was noted by the nurse. I almost told her about my trip to the ER, but honestly, the woman spoke so fast and I could barely understand what she was saying to me, so I just decided to wait until I saw the doc.
I was returned to the waiting room and made to wait nearly an hour before I was FINALLY called in for the scan. The ultrasound tech was the same lady I’d had at the 20 week appointment, so she was happy to chat with me while she did her measurements and tried to get some good photos of the baby’s heart. She had a really hard time because the little man was pressed right up against my uterus and would turn his back on her whenever she tried to get a good look. I remember Dexter doing the same thing when he was in my belly, so I thought it was pretty funny.
The tech went off to write her report and had to come back in three or four times to try again so she could get a picture of all four chambers of the heart as well as the vena cava and other important veins. She took the echocardiogram and then left me alone to await the doctor.
When he came in, he explained that the echo itself looked “okay,” but that the baby was slightly small and still had a “hole in his heart.” This was pretty scary to me, as I hadn’t realised it was a “hole,” having it in my head that it was simply a “calcification.” He pointed out on the screen where the hole is and said that it’s not really a huge deal, as it is too early to tell if it will be a problem or not. He said that the baby might have to have surgery as soon as he’s born, OR he might be okay for several months before surgery would be needed. He then said that for all intents and purposes, he might be born and have absolutely no troubles at all. It is just too early.
He said that I WILL have to come back in ANOTHER four weeks for another echo test, and to be sure the baby is growing properly. It looks as if I will be having these scans monthly for the duration of the pregnancy.
On the plus side, I did get to see the little man again and take home some pictures, though they were pretty blurry for the most part. I think the focus was on getting views of the heart rather than cute facial features. Ah well.
Since we came back, I’ve had a huge amount of support from family and friends online who have all been very kind as to share their own stories of similar experiences. Even if they don’t have specific knowledge about heart problems, so many mamas out there have had their share of traumatic baby stories, NICU stays and surgeries. So thank you to everyone who has shared to help me feel a little more settled.
Once again, I am not letting myself worry until there is something to worry about. The baby was kicking and moving the WHOLE time and had a strong heartbeat, and that’s all I can ask for.