The two main concerns noted by Dr. “B” on that first ultrasound were: 1. increased nuchal translucency measurement, indicating an accumulation of fluid under the skin at the base of the baby’s neck, and 2. an enlarged bladder. For at least 30 minutes he explained to us all that these initial findings COULD mean. He talked about the possibilities for testing and the timeframes necessary for testing if we would want to consider terminating ‘the pregnancy.’ We quietly assured him that termination would not be an option for us, regardless of the baby’s condition. Then he talked about ‘worse case scenarios:’ babies whose bladders became so enlarged their abdominal walls burst open and moms who were rushed into emergency deliveries because of pre-ecclampsia caused by carrying an unwell baby. After a while, we felt like we were in a Charlie Brown special and his words all began to sound like ‘wah-wah-wah-wah-wah.’ If you need a refresher as to what that sounds like, you can listen here: http://soundfxnow.com/sound-fx/charlie-brown-teacher-voice! 🙂 The kids were so well-behaved in the waiting room the whole time, and we headed home trying to answer their many questions – and looking for answers to our own!
Hours of research and reading on-line about babies with both increased nuchal transleucency and enlarged bladders, plus a follow-up phone consultation with Dr. B, led us to understand that there were three main possibilities to anticipate. 1. The baby had a temporary renal obstruction that would resolve spontaneously and all would be well, 2. The baby had ‘only’ an obstruction issue, and we might need to make decisions about surgery for the baby prior to birth, or 3. The baby had a chromosomal abnormality that was causing the obstruction, which would most likely indicate trisomy 13 or 18. The statistical chances of possibility one, based on clinical studies: 73.7% N, and of possibility three: 26.3%. Obstructions resolve spontaneously in about 90% of chromosomally normal babies, so possibility two was our least concern.
On the 21st, I had my first appointment with an OB-GYN from Wellspan York. I was quickly grateful for this new-to-me doctor. She was very down-to-earth with an instantly-likeable bedside manner. Having already read the U/S results, she said, “We’ll let you know when we’re worried, and we’re not worried yet.” She told me several best-case-scenario stories based on her clinical experience which helped to balance out the worst-case-scenario stories we had heard earlier. As the oldest of nine children, she also affirmed our decision to have a larger-than-normal family and also to have a baby at age 40. I left feeling encouraged and hopeful that perhaps our baby would indeed be well.
The kids were eager to share the news with family and friends, and at 15 weeks with baby six, I knew that our news would soon be obvious enough whether we were ready to share it or not! So we shared, deciding to celebrate this baby’s life in spite of the uncertainties.
Then we took our planned vacation to Bethany Beach and came home on a Sunday evening, anticipating our second ultrasound the next morning, which would hopefully – at 16 weeks – reveal more detailed information about our baby’s condition.