“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.