When a 12 week scan doesn’t go to plan

We were so blasé, sat there waiting this time, we’d been through this before, we knew what to expect, it would be fine!

We got called into the scan and quickly saw our baby wriggling away on the monitor. Relief. Everything’s fine, we smiled and joked while the radiographer took his measurements.

‘I can’t quite get the baby into the right position, can you sit outside for a bit and I’ll call you back in?’

No problem, we thought, still happy that he/she was wriggling too much to be caught on camera!

We get called back in and scanned again. We get told the nuchal fold is reading high (3.9mm when the safe cut-off is 3.5mm).

We get put in another room so we don’t have to sit in a corridor with all the happy parents-to-be. Midwife comes in. Basically tells us that the odds are that there’s a 75% chance that there’s something wrong with the baby… 50% genetic, 25% something wrong with the heart… So a 25% chance that baby is ‘normal’.

World falls apart.

She tells us our next options are an amnio or something similar. She says we’re referred to the ‘fetal medicine dept’ who we’ll hear from in a few days.

That evening I think we both felt pretty numb, as we both googled away I found there’s a private blood test (nifty) you can have for £500 which will tell you about odds of genetic disorder. (I think this the one now being rolled out in the NHS). A couple of days later I had that, they also scanned us again but said that baby was measuring at 11 weeks so too early to read the nuchal fold.

A week of agonising waiting… we’d agreed to take everything step by step and not make any decisions until we had some hard facts, we couldn’t make decisions based on odds. So I tried not to think about (thought about it at all the time) whether we’d have to terminate the pregnancy due to a life-limiting disorder, or whether we could raise a child with Down’s syndrome.

The test came back good, baby had 3million to one odds of having Down’s or another couple of major genetic disorders. Relief but nerves and uncertainty still prevailed.

A week later we had our first appointment at the fetal medicine department – another scan (this time I was actually at 12 weeks!) and an appointment with the consultant. He said the nuchal reading was now within the safe range, but because they’d spotted it earlier we were still at risk. He estimated that the 75% had dropped down to maybe 25% which would drop down further if the 20 week scan went ok.

He wanted to see us again before Christmas, so I was about 15 weeks. Again, happy with the nuchal fold and a short chat with him gave us much-needed confidence, he thought the odds of there being something wrong were now down to 10%-15%.
We finally started telling people, and could finally start believing that this was happening, we could start bonding with the baby.

So it’s been a very odd start to the pregnancy, if I’d known my dates I wouldn’t have had that first scan at 10 weeks with that reading. If I was a year younger (I’m 35) I wouldn’t be classed as high risk and my poor odds would have been much better. On the plus side, at 20 weeks pregnant I’ve already had 5 scans, 5 chances to see our beautiful wriggly baby. I’ll now get a scan every month, great service from our beloved NHS!

Above all, I can only be grateful. Hopefully we will have a happy ending, our odds are good. I know so many people don’t get their happy ending. I can’t for one minute try to put myself in their shoes, but those few weeks of uncertainty were enough to make me very lucky and blessed that we’ve got this far.


4 thoughts on “When a 12 week scan doesn’t go to plan”

  1. Wow, what a scary start. That first scan is such a huge deal and makes pregnancy feel real. I went into both of mine just assuming everything would be fine, and I’m not sure I could have handled anything else. You must have been so worried. Thank goodness your odds of a happy ending are good now.


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