Nothing can just be easy for us, can it? Damn it.
So we learned that the Penguin is a boy at today’s ultrasound. In addition to identifying the sex (for those parents who want to know), the purpose of the 20-week ultrasound is to examine the fetal anatomy for any potential problems, birth defects, etc., that can be diagnosed in this least invasive way.
Almost all of the news we got was perfect. First and foremost, we learned that my cervix is nice and long and closed. So the pressure I’ve been feeling is most likely just the weight of the baby—joints and ligaments tend to spread more easily the second time around. But it doesn’t appear that anything is causing me to dilate too early. That was an immense relief. I can live with the stupid pressure as long as I know it’s not something to worry about.
Second, almost everything on the anatomy scan is totally normal. The Penguin has all the right parts in all the right places and his heartbeat is strong. But you know when you see the ultrasound tech go back again and again to take the same picture and mark the same thing, something must not be quite right. And sure enough, when the perinatologist came in, she told us that they see an echogenic focus in the left ventricle of the baby’s heart. This is basically a small calcium deposit in the heart—it is not a defect in and of itself, nor can it cause any heart problems, but it is what they call a “soft marker” for Down’s syndrome. The perinatologist said that these spots are fairly common and have very little clinical significance when there are absolutely no other indications of Down’s. In our case, my only increased risk factor for Down’s is my age. My bloodwork was totally normal and nothing else in the baby’s anatomy indicates Down’s. When she put the echogenic focus into the computer as part of the risk assessment for Down’s, our risk did go up, but only very slightly, from 1 in 5800 to 1 in 3500. Normal risk even for very young women is something like 1 in 2000, so we’re still well within the very, very low risk category. Most echogenic foci go away on their own and the vast majority of babies who present with one in an ultrasound are born completely normal. And yet, it’s that damned odds game again. We’re just not very big on odds around here.
The other issue is that the baby is measuring pretty big right now. He’s above the 97th percentile for fetal growth right now. In fact, today’s ultrasound puts our due date 10 days earlier, on May 14 (and therefore very uncomfortably close to the anniversary of Hudson’s death). However, since he was only measuring six days ahead at the first trimester ultrasound, they won’t actually change my due date. The perinatologist said that either I’m just growing a big baby (although she said it would be a little unusual to go from a normal 7lb 6oz baby like Hudson to a 9+ pounder) or there is a concern for possible gestational diabetes, which tends to make babies larger. She said she’d like to see him be somewhere below the 90th percentile when it’s all said and done. I saw the OB right after this, and she seemed totally unconcerned, particularly since I am so tall, I’ve only gained 8 pounds so far (exactly what I’d gained by this point with Hudson), and my belly is measuring right on. She said it was not time to start worrying about a ten-pound baby yet and that we’d do the GD screening at the next appointment (24 weeks, which is 4 weeks from now), but that in the meantime, it would at least be wise to pay attention to the amount of sugar I’m consuming. Which means, at least for now, until we rule out GD, no more sodas for me. Aside from the potential complications for both me and the baby that can come with GD (which I’m just not even going to think about right now), I really, really, really hope I won’t have to end up paying detailed attention to everything I eat. Even though I know that in the grand scheme of pregnancy complications, this one is not so bad, having to count carbs at every turn would just be an added level of stress that I would be really grateful not to have to deal with.
Why, oh why, isn’t it just easy and totally worry-free? Don’t we deserve that? Sigh. The perinatologist encouraged us not to worry and to enjoy the pregnancy, that none of this is likely to be serious, but it is still just hanging out there. If anyone’s dealt with either of these situations before and has anything reassuring to say, I’d be grateful to hear it.