After an agonizing three-day wait, Monday was finally here! Today was the day when we were going to see our baby and—knock on wood—find out the baby’s gender. I couldn’t wait.
Will called a half hour before we were supposed to leave for the ultrasound appointment to say that he was stuck at work in a presentation. I was sad that he was going to miss the experience, but I virtually skipped out of the house by myself, so excited to see the baby.
I lay there on the ultrasound table, giddy with the excitement, probably driving the ultrasound technician nuts when I announced: “I see 10 fingers! 10 toes! Wow, that’s a strong heartbeat, isn’t it?! Look at the baby waving! That’s a really big brain, right?!” (As if she doesn’t see this 10 times a day.)
“Mmmmm hmmm,” she’d smile back, as she clicked on the screen and entered numbers. When the ultrasound was over, she said: “The doctor’s just going to come in and take a quick look.”
“OK,” I replied cheerily, basking in the glow of the ultrasound screen.
Moments later, another doctor I’d never met came in, introduced herself, and then proceeded to silently look at the baby on the screen for a few minutes. Then, she stepped back from the ultrasound machine and said:
“Now, I don’t want you to worry, but…”
I immediately felt my heart in my throat as her “but” dangled in the air for what seemed like all of eternity.
“…your baby has a cyst on the brain.”
My own brain started swimming: “Cyst? Brain? There must be some mistake.” I wasn’t sure what she was saying. Immediately, my mind started extrapolating: “Was she saying that the baby has a brain tumor? Was it malignant? Was the baby mentally impaired?” I thought back to the recent call from the geneticist that said that all of our test results had come back normal, but that the test for Fragile X Syndrome had been misplaced or something, and did we want to repeat it? (No, I hadn’t wanted to repeat it at the time, I wasn’t at all concerned about Fragile X…)
The doctor’s voice broke through my mental fog. I tried to concentrate on the words that were coming out of her mouth, but it was all “Waah Waah, Waaah, Waaah, Waah, Waaah,” like some incredibly blurry Peanuts episode where I was Charlie Brown and she was the nameless, faceless authority figure. I heard snippets of “choroid plexus cyst” and “has been linked to chromosomal abnormalities like Down Syndrome and Trisomy 18...”
“I’m sorry,” I interrupted. “What’s Trisomy 18?”
I had a basic understanding that it meant some sort of “extra” genetic material on chromosome 18, but I had no idea what that ultimately meant for the baby.
The only part of her response that I actually heard was “incompatible with life… the baby will generally be stillborn, or will die shortly after birth.”
I held back tears and nodded.
“We can do an amnio today if you’d like to rule that out,” the doctor offered.
I somehow managed to get out the words: “I need to speak with my husband.”
The doctor encouraged me to take a few minutes to call Will and think about whether we’d like to do an amnio immediately, whether we’d like to sit on the decision for a few days, or whether we’d like to just decline the amnio altogether.
But, as she ushered me into the hallway, she stopped me and whispered: “It’s just that, if you have any thoughts of terminating the pregnancy, it’s better to do that sooner rather than later.”
I felt like I was in some sort of Twilight Zone, hearing the words "terminate the pregnancy."
“No, no, I don’t…” I blurted out. “I mean, I’ve never really thought about what we would do in that situation. But, I don’t think we would,” and suddenly all this verbal diarrhea was spilling from my mouth about “But, if it was Trisomy 18, I would need to know that, I would need to mentally prepare myself for that, I would want to know ahead of time…”
I sat on the steps in the hallway and dialed Will on my cellphone with shaky hands. I got his voicemail. “Ummm. Hi, Will, it’s me. I just got out of the ultrasound. Everything’s fine, but there are just a couple things I need to talk to you about. Can you call me when you get this?” I knew that Will was in a presentation and probably wouldn’t get my message for a while. I went back in and told the receptionist that I wouldn’t be doing the amnio today. I walked down to the car and waited until I got in before I burst into tears.
Join FitPregnancy.com's Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she blogs about her third pregnancy.