After the excitement of receiving the (sometimes multiple) positive pregnancy test results, and you have scheduled an appointment with your Ob/Gyn, the next thing to look forward to is your 1st scan. This often coincides with the 1st doctor’s appointment, as it is common for most doctors to prefer to confirm the pregnancy by seeing a viable gestational sac. However, and as is the case with most women, there is usually a 2-week wait, as most doctors prefer to have this scan anytime from when you are 6 weeks pregnant. Considering you might have confirmed your pregnancy as early as 4 weeks, this is often the s-l-o-w-e-s-t 2 weeks in the history of man! But then finally, the day comes….and you get to see your baby/babies for the first time. You are already euphoric from the very idea of being able to see the life growing inside of you…but when you see the little dot(s) on the screen, it can be a bit hard to visualise it/them as your future babies.
I was one of those women who had that long and torturous 2-week wait between my positive pregnancy tests and my first scan. Considering I had 4 embryos transferred, I was almost losing my mind wondering how many passengers I was carrying on board. My starting hCG numbers were not as high as would be expected for multiples, so I had a feeling I was only carrying one baby. But then again, what if there were 4 of them?! The anxiety and anticipation literally kept me awake every day! Finally finally, the day came and I was over the moon when my doctor said he could see 2 sacs! I was carrying twins!!!
But my excitement was short-lived, as my doctor said he would not be able to confirm the twin pregnancy until he heard their heart beats, which he was finding it hard to do at 6 weeks. My heart sank when he asked me to come back in 2 weeks (when I would be 8 weeks pregnant), for another to scan to confirm the twin pregnancy. I could not believe that this man was subjecting me to YET ANOTHER 2-week wait. This time, I was even more restless. The could it / could it not be questions were literally driving me insane.
When I couldn’t take it any more, a week later (when I was 7 weeks pregnant) I went to a private radiology centre for a scan. And there the heartbeats were…2 of them, beating hard and strong. I was in tears listening to that sound. I might not have been able to originally connect with those dots, but there was no mistaking the sound of those wonderful heartbeats. That was the moment it all became real to me, that we were really pregnant…and with TWINS!!!!! The private scan proved to be a more comprehensive dating scan, as the sonographer was able to measure the babies, and estimate the delivery date based on their size. One of them measured 1 day ahead of the other, but it was safe to estimate the average pregnancy date. By the time I went back to my clinic for the 8-week scan, having my doctor confirm the twins was just reinforcing something I knew already.
However, for some couples, this 1st scan is not always good news. Sometimes, no gestational sac is seen. Other times, there is a sac but with no feotal pole, meaning the sac is empty. After the high of confirming your pregnancy, having this happen is one of the most deflating things that can happen. At my 12 week nuchal translucency (NT) scan, the sonographer saw that there had even been a 3rd gestational sac for me, but which didn’t develop further. As happy as I was that we were expecting twins, hearing that news still made me a little sad. So I can totally empathise with couples who are given this sad news.
Even more devastating is progressing beyond the 6 week stage, hearing the heart beat and everything, only to have the foetus stop growing. The heartbreak is sometimes compounded by having to go through an evacuation. I have a friend who refused the evacuation for almost 2 weeks, as she was praying life into her foetus. She had gotten pregnant after a difficult IVF cycle, and refused to believe that her child had died at 9 weeks! After a week had gone by, her friends and family staged a mini intervention, assuring her that God definitely had a plan, and that plan did not include her suffering any more complications by carrying a dead foetus for so long a time. So, she grudgingly agreed to an evacuation. At that point, she felt like her whole world had imploded around her. If only she knew that she would conceive later that year, and give birth to a bouncing baby boy shortly after.
At the end of your 1st trimester comes the nuchal translucency (NT) scan, is often used as a screening test for Down’s syndrome. Nuchal translucency is a collection of fluid under the skin at the back of your baby’s neck. All babies have some fluid at the back of their neck, but many babies with Down’s syndrome have an increased amount. After this comes the anomaly scan, or mid-pregnancy scan, which usually takes place between 18 and 21 weeks of pregnancy. This scan checks for structural abnormalities (anomalies) in the baby, and is often the time when the gender of the baby is ascertained. The build-up to both of these scans can be quite anxiety-filled, as you worry about what the outcome of either would be. For me, I knew that no matter what I was told, a termination would be out of the question, so my anxiety was even amplified. Thankfully, both scans went well.
Even though these are the 3 important scans in a pregnancy, I have to admit that I probably had about 20 scans with my own pregnancy :dohh:. Blame my hypochondria or OCD, but every time I went to the clinic, I just had to have a scan. My doctor called me a “social scanner”, as I would scan just to say hello to my babies. I remember when I had a scare at 9-weeks (I was spotting bright red blood, with even a few clots). It was a scan that showed me that my 2 babies were in perfect health, and there was nothing to worry about. And every week, I got to see how they were growing, how one of them was always energetic and somersaulting all over the place, and how her sister was always chilled out and relaxed. And when I got a 3D scan towards the end of my pregnancy, I got to see their faces :heart:.
So, if you are preparing for your first scan, try to stay positive. My prayer for you is that you will see that beautiful dot (or dots), and hopefully hear the heartbeat(s) that very first time. I pray that this will be the start of a beautiful ride for you, which will culminate with you holding your precious bundle(s) of joy in your arms. Trust me, there are very few things in the world better than this.
Good luck everyone!
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