So far, I have been pretty impressed with Canada’s public health system in terms of using it to navigate this pregnancy — we’ve never had to wait too long, staff have always been friendly, and even the weird “hospital” we go to (ie. the third floor of a Hydro One office building that’s been converted into Mount Sinai’s overflow space and therefore kind of feels like a movie set or a pretend hospital) isn’t too shabby-looking. But yesterday, when we had our anatomy scan and opted to find out the sex of the baby, I had my first moment of “Hmm, maybe this is where hand-holding midwives come in handy.”
The scan itself went OK — they got us in right on time, baby was kicking up a storm, the ultrasound tech was in a good mood. Halfway through, he said he needed baby to flip around so he could get a better shot of the brain and heart, so would I mind touching my toes for 5 minutes? I did him one better and ended up in a series of upside-down yoga poses (yes, while still in the ultrasound room), which actually worked. As he showed us some images on the screen, we got an under-the-bum shot and I was pretty sure I saw two little balls. The tech said nothing in response because he wasn’t allowed to disclose the sex. But later, I was pretty sure I heard him reference “his arm” when talking about its position. So fine, I had a bit of a hunch and was leaning toward “boy” anyway because of my slowly climbing betas and because all of you guys seemed to agree.
But here’s the deal: As the tech can’t reveal the sex, and the ultrasounds are performed separately from your appointment with the OB, the office staff basically just hand you a copy of the report at the end, which mentions the sex “somewhere near the bottom.”
So hubby and I take our piece of paper, ride the elevator back down to the lobby, sequester ourselves next to a random fern in the corner, and start hastily scanning for the words “boy” or “girl”. We look at the bottom, as directed, and the first thing we see are comments from the supervising doctor saying something about “isolated echogenic bowel” in the lower-right quadrant and how this can be linked to Cystic Fibrosis, Trisomy 21 and other conditions, and how we may want to consider genetic counselling. In the midst of totally freaking out, we scan up and see the words “likely male”. At this point, neither of us care. There is maybe 10% of us going, “LIKELY? Is there a penis or isn’t there?!” and then 90% of us going, “WHAT THE FUCK IS ECHOGENIC BOWEL?!” We open up our phones and start madly Googling and find a few semi-reassuring studies, but are still left standing in the lobby of a hydro building feeling pretty upset about seeing words like Cystic Fibrosis on our report and having NOBODY there to explain what this really means.
Skip to today: I’ve seen my OB and he said he encounters fetuses with echogenic bowel pretty much every other week (I have to say, I find this slightly hard to believe, seeing as it supposedly only appears in 1% of second-trimester ultrasounds). But that in itself is not a problem and usually disappears by the next ultrasound. Technically, however, it can be a marker for stuff like Cystic Fibrosis, Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), IUGR, TORCH, etc. etc., so you just want to make sure to rule this stuff out. I already did my Trisomy bloodwork and the chances of baby boy having this are about 1 in 5,800 (fine). The baby was measuring on track, so pretty sure there’s no growth restriction (IUGR) happening. I don’t have any history of Cystic Fibrosis, but I guess hubs and/or I could be carrying it recessively, so we’re going to get tested, and same with the TORCH stuff. The rest of the anatomy scan was perfect and there are no other markers for anything scary, so basically we should try to relax about this. But still… I keep reading about there being a 5% chance of Cystic Fibrosis and that feels like a horribly high number. Will get results in a couple weeks.