Yesterday we had our first ultrasound for this pregnancy, at about 35.5 weeks along. We’ve had two other very healthy, natural pregnancies and births and saw no reason to need an ultrasound with this pregnancy (or the one prior!). However, this baby is presenting breech according to our midwife so off we were sent to consult with an OB/GYN and have an ultrasound done. Our hope was that even with a breech baby, if in the “right” breech position, we could attempt a hospital vaginal delivery. Or, we would see the baby was in a bad breech position and would have to do a c-section.
However, during a quick scan ultrasound, a mass in the lower uterine segment was noted. Two things went through our head: a second baby that had died early on in the pregnancy, or a cyst on me. The OB didn’t really expand so that’s what we left thinking. We still thought, “hey, if it’s not big or not bad, maybe the baby will end up turning and a natural delivery can still be feasible!”
So the doctor referred us to have a full diagnostic ultrasound done at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing – that we had done today. The only other prenatal ultrasound I have had was with our first son, Parker, at about 20 weeks gestation. Not a big deal. When you’re 35+ weeks pregnant though? Ultrasounds that last for 30+ minutes are not comfortable. Lots of pushing and prodding to get at measurements. And we barely could see the baby’s face because its hands/legs are up in front of it.
The ultrasound tech did her thing, then we waited a bit until the doctor came in. I got a little scolded for not having the complete blood-work that is typical in pregnancies and so we started off on kind of a wrong foot. We didn’t have detailed blood-work with either of our other pregnancies and saw no reason why this pregnancy would be different. Then she had me lay on the table so she could do some talking with us while doing an ultrasound again on the baby. Her first question at that point was “Do you know why you’re here today?”, and I started going into some long-winded story that apparently had no relevance to what she truly meant (I thought she was asking us because SHE didn’t know!). Richard interrupted me thankfully and said that yesterday’s ultrasound showed a mass in the lower uterine segment. Probably the first time he’s been more concise and to the point than me!
The doctor got right to the point herself, saying “We see that the mass is on the baby, not on you, and we think it’s Spina Bifida.” We were both caught very off-guard here as it never crossed our minds that this mass would be on the baby – we truly thought it would be a second baby or something on me. NEVER thought of something on or wrong with the baby. So we were instantly thrown into this realization. I was angry at first with her just coming out and saying that because it felt as if there was still a slight question of the accuracy of her diagnosis and she shouldn’t be just throwing that information around lightly. In fact, she is quite confident in the diagnosis and we proceeded to see more of what the ultrasound had to show us.
There are few things we know for sure, or even partially at this point. We know the cystic mass is coming off the bottom portion of the spine (the lower on the spine the better – less chance of paralysis). We can see that there is not a ton of fibers/nerves/bones wrapped up into the mass – this is good as if the spine/nerves are wrapped up in there, it would cause more issues with the surgery and recovery. We know the mass is about 10cm (about 4 inches). One foot appears to possibly be clubbed but it could just be how it’s tucked up by the head (baby is in pike position). While the cyst does cause a pull on the brain, in the cerebellum, it doesn’t appear to be excessive and there doesn’t seem to be fluid/swelling in the brain.
So what’s next? We have an appointment next week with a neonatology doctor, or ICU specialist. Another appointment will get scheduled with a pediatric cardiologist. This doc will do some sort of echocardio-ultrasound or something along those lines to check the health of the heart for surgery after birth. Then another appointment will be setup with the neurosurgery doctor that will perform the surgery after birth. And of course, weekly visits with the OB/perinatal specialist as well.
During the ultrasound, realizing all the unknowns that are coming our way, I decided then and there I didn’t really care if it was a boy or girl and the surprise didn’t mean as much to me anymore. So I asked the doctor to let us know the gender. So we are now excited (and a bit nervous) to welcome our third son, Colten Robert!