So this morning I drove 45 minutes to a lovely little town in which I promptly got completely lost. Thanks to my cell phone and father-in-law whose knowledge of the county is vast, I was able to arrive just in time to get completely lost on the hospital campus. A bit of wandering and the help of a kind receptionist in what turned out to be the wrong office, and finally, I was at my destination.
What for? I was to have a Nuchal Translucency ultrasound, which is simply an ultrasound with the specific aim to measure the thickness of fluid at the back of the fetuses neck (and by thickness I mean the distance between the baby's neck skin and body structure--in between the two is a pocket of fluid). The thicker that pocket of fluid, the higher the chance the baby has a chromosomal condition--like Down Syndrome. The scan is a part of a comprehensive screening process which includes the scan measurement, plus the results of two different blood tests done at specific times. All the info, including age of the mother, is entered into a mathematical formula that then generates a "risk" for certain chromosomal conditions. A FAR from perfect science, but one way to gather a bit of information without intruding upon the fetuses personal space--so to speak--with a definitive test like an Amniocentesis.
Anyway, this is how it went:
First, I will say seeing baby (who, by the way, Calvin insists is a girl) was just what I needed after a tearful evening last night. It's been a little rough lately: I still feel nauseous (flu-like really) every afternoon and evening (since FEBRUARY!); we've some big decisions to make about simplifying our lives further to make space (physically, mentally, emotionally) for another family member; plus, just being a mom to one 2 year old who is feeling oh so emotional lately (and oh so not sleeping at night!), and one four year old who is 2 in development and feeling the same (but luckily, he is sleeping like a log). All considered, I've been, well, a little scared about welcoming another child into the fold. So it was uplifting to see our little one on the screen, waving it's arms and rolling over and over in there. It reminded me of just how much I want to meet this little person.
The NT measurement was 1.5mm, so no concern there (2.5mm and below is considered normal, and above 2.5mm would be considered a risk factor), and the nasal bone was obvious (which is not an official part of the screening process, but just another factor on the plus side of things being, you know, "normal"). Of course it is just a screening test, and honestly, Charlie looked absolutely "normal" during the u/s we had at 20 weeks with him. Still, as we supposedly have a higher risk of having a second child with Down Syndrome (some theory about "sticky chromosomes", though our geneticist was not all too sure about that), we feel good to know what we can in advance as our birth plans might be changed by the info we gather (as in the location in which we choose to birth).
The ultrasound tech was great, and we had a nice chat about the awesomeness of Down Syndrome during the exam. :) She asked me "how severely Charlie is affected," which is a common question I get. I told her he is very much your average child with Down Syndrome, but that "average" is much higher functioning than I ever would have guessed before we began to walk down this road. Anyway, she took some extra images for me, and we listened to the heart beat--155bpm. Raymond couldn't make it, but I have a couple great photos to share with him, including one of the baby with both arms up by it's cheek as if resting, and another "full body shot" in 4D with it's little legs crossed at the ankles. You can see it's knobby little knees. :)