A foetal diagnosis: 1 in 1200

I turned up for second, supposed to be last, ultrasound in my first pregnancy with some apprehension. Here in the UK, it's often called the "big scan", done at 20 weeks to look for anomalies in the baby. 

You don’t normally see your baby again until they’re born unless there’s a problem.

There was a problem.

The sonographer couldn’t find a stomach.

My husband realized this was a problem. I didn’t.

I had been given a leaflet before the scan that said if the baby hadn’t swallowed any amniotic fluid recently then the stomach might not be visible and they will call you back for a repeat scan. So I assumed that was all it was.

We weren’t able to find out the gender in our hospital but we’d seen quite clearly the baby had male anatomy and we had a quick chat about the fact we were having a boy. Then my husband went quiet. I thought he was disappointed and assumed he had wanted a girl. Actually, he had picked up the fact the scan had been abandoned by the technician (I thought they’d just decided they may as well wait until the next scan to check the rest) and that there were other markers that something was amiss. Shorter limbs than the pregnancy dates suggested. Thicker fluid around the neck.

We returned the following week to a room full of the top obstetric staff from the hospital.

I was still oblivious to the tension in the room.

Only after that scan, when the doctor started pulled together all the facts, did the dots join together in my mind and the picture became clear.

Our son was very unwell and probably had Down Syndrome.

We found out a few weeks later he definitely did have Down Syndrome, and with that my uncomplicated first-time pregnancy became high risk. I was scanned weekly and had to be transferred to the regional specialist hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit, where we knew our baby would spend his early weeks....

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This story first featured on Kindred Mom as part of their series on Pregnancy and Birth for new mothers.