Nothing is ever simple

“Why don’t you go and empty your bladder,” said the nice ultrasound tech at my anatomy scan yesterday. “I’ll take a few more pictures and then the doctor will pop in for a look.”

“Does the doctor usually come in to see the scans?” I asked.

“Oh yes, most of the time,” insisted the tech.

Well, maybe that line works on first time mothers, but I have had an anatomy scan before (admittedly not at that same location) and I know it is NOT AT ALL normal for the radiologist to come in and consult during the scan.

Nor is it normal to have the radiologist and the tech stare at the same part of your baby over and over again with identical puzzled/furrowed brows.

Nor is it normal to have the radiologist ask the tech “Is it right or left you were looking at?”

At this point, you can picture me quietly freaking the FUCK OUT while trying not to move while they scanned and scanned and scanned. I knew it wasn’t the brain because I could see the part of the baby they were focused on. I thought heart or lungs.

I was wrong.

I forgot that we are supposed to have two kidneys.

My baby apparently only has one.

On a scale of “one to panic”, this is a “hiccup in pregnancy” as the radiologist put it. It is not brain or heart or spine. Provided the existing kidney functions as it should, there is no reason to think this will affect this baby in any real way except possibly make him/her more likely to develop hypertension. It also gives us an ironclad reason to forbid contact sports (no hockey, no football, no rugby- I am not at all heartbroken by this).

I am ok, mostly because labmonkey crunched all the data for me yesterday afternoon and told me that there were red flags they should have seen in the ultrasound if the existing kidney was not developing properly (even though they don’t come fully online until after birth, they are busy during the pregnancy processing amniotic fluid). I spoke to my midwife again this morning and she went over the report in detail. With the exception of the likely absent kidney, everything else looked perfect. So it is probable the existing kidney will work just fine, and there is no evidence that the baby has developed abnormally anywhere else on that same side (which was also a possibility).

Next steps are to meet with a genetics counsellor to discuss potential outcomes and a follow up ultrasound in three weeks’ time to check again and see if they can see anything else. My midwife is also arranging a consult during pregnancy with a pediatric kidney specialist so we can line up the baby’s care for after birth and make sure we have everything streamlined. At some point we will bring E’s paediatrician into the mix as she will be coordinating the testing once I leave the midwives. One big advantage to living in a big city in Canada- I have world-class medical care a short hop away by transit and I don’t have to pay for it out of my own pocket.

Right now there is no sense I have to transfer out of my midwives’ care or plan for a c-section. I will need to give birth in a hospital, but I think I had just about decided against the birth centre on my own anyway, so that is no big loss.

I am angry that, once again, nothing in my life to do with babies is simple. But I have also been quietly fretting about the anatomy scan for weeks now. I had a gut feeling something was wrong. And I have had too many friends who have been told at that scan that their baby was going to die to feel anything but relief that if there is something wrong with this baby, it is something that could ultimately be entirely inconsequential.

I hate that I am on a scale of “things aren’t perfect but they could be worse”. I would like to just have a perfect report. I would like to be one of those oblivious pregnant women who treats the anatomy scan as a way to learn the sex and whose biggest concern is whether to reveal with blue or pink icing in the centre of the cake or hide balloons in a big box.

But that’s not me. And that’s not my life or my experience of pregnancy.

And today, despite all the upheaval and emotion of the last twenty-four hours, I am still pregnant and there is no real reason to think we can’t bring home a healthy baby in June.

I am going to hold on to that.



Filed under Anxiety Overload, Me? Pregnant?!, Medical issues, Midwives

9 responses to “Nothing is ever simple

  1. Beth

    Just wanted to chime in and say, I was born with only one kidney and had NO idea until I had some testing done at age 32 for an unrelated concern. Hope that helps. I know I haven’t commented before but I read all the time and am sending well wishes.

  2. Rebecca

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while – even before you fell pregnant. I can only imagine how much stress/anxiety you must be feeling. I hate that things can’t go as planned. We found out some less than happy news at our 20 week scan. I initially let it stress me out for a while until my OB made note of my elevated blood pressure and told me to chill out/find a way to destress and then threatened medication to help lower BP. That snapped me out of my emotionally stressed mindset. I too am in a large Canadian city and am thankful for the immediate care we have access too. I’ll keep you and baby in my thoughts. (Anecdotally, I know of another baby with one kidney – she is now a very very very active 6 year old.)

  3. Marianne

    Fuck. I’m sorry it wasn’t perfect, but thank god it’s more of the “hiccup” variety. I think this actually happens more than we would think…I’m sure you’ve researched the incidence. Sounds like you’re in great hands and have a good plan. Thinking of you!!

  4. Turia

    Thanks, ladies. I am definitely getting to hear all the stories of happy, healthy people with one kidney! And this baby should be one of those, provided the existing kidney works. That is a stress point for me, but we can’t be 100% sure until the baby is born and I can’t spend the next 20 weeks freaking out. So I just have to trust that it will work and hopefully follow up ultrasounds will continue to show great levels of amniotic fluid.

    Rebecca- I’m sorry you have received stressful news too. Feel free to email me (rescogitataeATgmailDOTcom) anytime if you want to compare notes.

  5. I know I’ve already said it, but I’m truly sorry that you have this hanging over you. I have every faith that this will not be a problem- just a minor inconvenience if you have to fight with this kid about playing soccer some day. Hang in there!

  6. Not the kind of surprise anyone wants to have… sorry you have another source of worry and unknowns to add to your plate.

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  9. Beth’s post is very encouraging! Hoping that your child has the very same uneventful experience!!! Hugs

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