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First trimester screening, anatomy scan & gender reveal
Published Monday, April 30, 2018 12:16PM EDT Last Updated Monday, April 30, 2018 12:17PM EDT
My husband and I are thrilled to be able to share the news that we are expecting a baby girl, a little sister for our son Nero. We found out the gender at our 20-week anatomy scan but wanted a special reveal for our family. So after my ultrasound, I asked the doctor not to tell me the gender, but rather write it on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope.
I went to a Party City and requested a gender reveal balloon package, I handed them the envelope and told the cashier that I did not want to know what was in it – but if she could prepare the package with the colour coordinating with the gender of the baby. Once it was complete, I returned to the store and grabbed the opaque bag containing the balloons, went to my in-law’s place where my husband and son were waiting. I had my son Nero open the bag in front of our close family and reveal half a dozen pink balloons indicating we are having a baby girl! It was one of the best surprises of our lives. The next best thing to patiently waiting until the baby is born and having the doctor announce the gender in the delivery room.
The past five months have had their long, sluggish days but in retrospect time is flying and the anticipation is building. The waiting period in between my doctor’s appointments is hard to get through when you’re anxious and uncomfortable. I still have bouts of nausea, extreme fatigue, pressure headaches and body aches throughout the night. I would take all of these pregnancy symptoms along with a handful more knowing that I will get to hold my healthy baby girl in less than 4 months.
I had initially wanted to have a midwife with this pregnancy but due to my medical history with the last two pregnancies, my family doctor said I might be considered slightly high-risk. So I decided to get a referral to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at London Health Sciences Centre. I can’t say enough good things about the staff at the hospital. The nurses, the receptionist and my doctor are all phenomenal.
My first appointment with my OB-GYN was at 12 weeks. I went in to see her to review my dating ultrasound and my first trimester bloodwork. The results had come back with concern that my baby would have a one in 150 chance of developing a chromosome disorder. I was reassured by my doctor that this did not mean it was a positive screening for a chromosome disorder, but rather that I required further testing. She also mentioned that a lot of women have been going through this same scare lately because the first trimester screening has been moved up by a couple of weeks in Ontario, resulting in more false positives for disorders.
I was referred to get more bloodwork called Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT). Depending on what province you are in, this test can range in price from five to eight hundred dollars. In Ontario, it is covered by OHIP if you have been referred by your doctor due to your gestational age or if your first trimester screening comes back with a probability of a chromosome disorder. I want to clarify - NIPT tests for likelihood that the fetus could be affected by chromosome 13, 18, or 21. It does not screen for all possible birth defects and genetic diseases, such as open neural tube defects.
The test raises some ethical questions and as a result some women opt out of any form of screening. My husband and I wanted to be prepared, so we decided to move forward with the testing. Results take up to 10 business days to get back to the doctor. As you can imagine, these 10 days were agonizing for me. Due to my past experience, I couldn’t help but think of the worst case scenario.
I had spoken to a friend of mine who at 17 weeks found out that her baby had died in utero. Her first trimester screening at the time was not required until 12 weeks, and NIPT was not offered at the time. With her next pregnancy, this friend was able to achieve peace of mind by getting the NIPT test as soon as she was nine weeks pregnant. She went on to have a healthy baby girl, without the intensified stress and anxiety of waiting until she was 12 weeks in to get any form of testing done.
Thankfully, our results came back and they indicated a very low risk for any abnormalities. I could have chosen to do further testing at this point, but it’s a bit more invasive and causes risks to the baby. My doctor has reassured me there is nothing wrong and I should just take it easy and stop overthinking this pregnancy.
I wanted to address the issue of prenatal testing because while I was waiting to get my results, I spoke with a lot of other moms who were also going through the uncertainty of false positive test results for chromosome disorders. There isn’t a lot of information available because NIPT is fairly new. I found talking to other women who had either gone through the false positive or were in the same situation, helped reduce my stress.
Moving forward, I have routine tests once a month to check on the baby’s growth and my health. A lot of people have asked me how I’m feeling. I am usually hesitant to show excitement or talk about it because I know how fragile pregnancy is, and the truth is I force myself to choke back the fear of experiencing another loss every day. I also know what it’s like for others who might be struggling to become pregnant, and with that in mind, I don’t want to gloat about my pregnancy. I remember when I was struggling through the loss of our twins; I disliked seeing others pregnant, or having a baby. Not because I wasn’t happy for them, but because I was sad for myself. I have come to the realization that worrying this much is unhealthy for me and the baby, so I have decided to change my ways and start enjoying this pregnancy.
To everyone who has read my previous post and made it through this one, I want to sincerely thank you. I have received wonderful feedback and have even had a lot of people reach out to share their stories with me. It means so much to me that I am able to go through this journey with you.