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.
OMG, I would’ve freaked reading those results without someone there to decipher them! I’m sure all is well, but sending positive thoughts your way regardless! And congrats on having a boy! So exciting!
They seriously make you read and decipher this shit yourself?! I would be freaking out! I give you props for keeping yourself together long enough to get to the doctor’s appointment. I couldn’t have done it. I would have had a major breakdown right there in the middle of the office. I’m sure your little man will be fine! Five percent is a very very small percentage. That means you have a 95% chance of everything being okay! That’s a much better number right?
It’s a boy!!!! I was right! I’m so excited for you! But what the hell are we going to do with boys? I don’t know about you, but I have no clue what to do with boys. It’s starting to terrify me a little.
Yes about the boy…no idea either. (see my post today, still in shock!)
Congrats on your “most likely” boy!
It seems strange to me – and maybe a little cruel – for them to send you off with the report without having anyone discuss it with you first. This story makes me very thankful that my doctor insists on seeing me immediately after every scan so that I’m not left hanging. I hope that all subsequent tests show that baby is completely healthy. I know the wait is going to feel like an eternity, though. Hang in there.
Ack! How incredibly frustrating they would give you a report that said something like that and not have anyone explain it to you right away. Most likely everything is perfectly fine. I hope you get results to assure you of that ASAP.
congrats on a boy! I have to say, my gender reveal was pretty uneventful as well. the nurse told me over the phone when she gave me the results of all the chromosomal blood work. then I had to call and tell my husband. I guess there is something to the delivery room surprise but I do not have the patience to wait that long.
Oh geesh! I’m so sorry you had to go through this, and are now a bit worried. Our 20-week scan didn’t go as well as we hoped and I walked out in tears. I had to wait 10 days for a second scan, just to be told that everything was just fine. I’m hoping the same happens for you! I’m sure it will :)
But this is scary stuff… even if they say that it should be just fine.
A boy!!! Hooray! Boys are super fun! I’m sure girls are too – but I don’t know from personal experience!
Sister, I feel you echogenic bowel pain. If I may, I’d like to offer some sage-like advice I received from a very wise reader:
I hope this doesn’t come across as sounding dismissive or anything, but I have a feeling neither baby will have Downs OR a missing kidney… the odds for Downs are still vastly in your favour, so keep reminding yourself of that…
It’s super stressful to get unexpected news, but my doctor and the perinatologist both had the same reaction–very likely no big whoop.
Congrats on likely boy! Focus on THAT.
HAHAHA… took me a few secs to realize who this “sage reader” was. :) Dayum, I’ve never been very good at taking my own advice, but guess I’ll have to try.
Congrats on your little man!!! And seriously, were they trying to give you a heart attack? I would definitely have a heart attack if I had to decipher that information on my own. I hope the next scan puts you 100% at ease.
Just came across this post and wanted to clarify one thing: I think there’s actually a very wide range of methods and standards used within Canada for this sort of thing. I had my baby in Toronto too, and have several friends who had babies there within the last year….and everyone’s experience was different when it came to ultrasounds, OB’s/midwives, hospitals, etc! I had my ultrasounds done at a women’s imaging clinic near Bay and Dundas and it also varied depending on the tech. But when they told us the gender, the technician walked us through the image and then told us the gender during the appointment. (I had wondered if that would happen at all because there had been a lot of news coverage at the time surrounding south Asian women and high rates of selective abortions for female fetuses, so some places were apparently opting not to reveal the gender period). I was NEVER given a print out of results to decipher on my own – so I wonder if it’s something with Mt Sinai? I didn’t deliver there, so can’t speak to that hospital. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that there’s a VERY wide range even just within the city and your experience isn’t actually indicative of a typical ‘Canadian’ approach, which seem to be of every shape and colour. (I suppose that’s good since you can book an appointment elsewhere if you don’t like the approach of a particular lab). Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy! I had a good experience overall with the care I received in Toronto….am now living in the U.S. and can’t believe how expensive the health care is!!!!
Hi Mary! Thanks for the comment — don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a great experience so far, and generally think the healthcare in Toronto is AWESOME. My OB rocks, and everything else at Mt Sinai is great. It was just this weird procedural thing of handing the results directly to the patient that seemed off to me. I’m sure some patients actually prefer this, but if there’s anything abnormal, you should really have a doc explain it to you first.
Wow they are pretty darn blase’ about the whole we see this every other week. If it were their pregnancy I’m sure they’d be a tad worried too!
Man, I’m really sorry that such a shoulda-been-happy day ended up being so stressful. BUT look at it this way, there is a 95% chance that everything will be perfectly fine! I’m on the side of THAT statistic. As for the other news, yay team penis! Now you can start buying ironic hipster onesies with moustaches and little pinstripe suits.
Hello… I’ve just found your blog and I am excited/terrified because i will be having my first ultrasound in that same converted hydro to hospital building. I hope that you are feeling better and remember that yes, no matter what the odds be ever in your favour ;) you have a much better shot of having a super healthy little boy than not. Looking forward to reading more.
Welcome! I love meeting other local bloggers!! Especially ones who can empathize with the weirdness of Mt. Sinai’s system… you should also follow Aramis at It Only Takes One — she’s another awesome 416-er. :)
Good luck at your first scan — it’s a bit awkward navigating the 3rd floor that first time, but afterwards, everything is easy-peasy.
CONGRATS on baby boy!! I agree with you and pp, baby boy is just fine!
Yay for boy! I’m purposefully ignoring all other potentially frightening news because I say it’s going to be A-OK. They just love to scare us, don’t they? Focus on finding blue ironic onesies and making your list of names for that sweet little boy.
A boy! Awesome!!! I would certainly focus on the good news here- they really do see this stuff a lot, and in the vast majority of cases, it means absolutely nothing. But they sure seem to get off on scaring the living shit out of parents-to-be, don’t they? Lovely. I’m banking on everything turning out just fine. I’ll definitely be stalking you for the rest of your results… looking forward to the GOOD news!
Eeeee gads! I wish they would’ve chatted you up a bit about that instead of slipping it in all casual like.
But congrats, congrats! A boyyyyy!!!! And everything is going to be awesome, I can feel it in the pit of my storkiest self.
This makes me so mad that they did this to you. The system shouldn’t be set up this way such that parents could find out this information with no support or explanations. I mean, imagine how much worse some of the information could be that people are finding out on their own! Anyhow, if your doctor is not worried, that is a good sign. In the meantime, I will be sending good thoughts your way and you need to promise to keep us posted as soon as you know more.
And the boy thing…wow. Congrats! has it sunk in yet? Read my post from today. My “girl” is no longer a “girl.” I am absolutely in shock.
oh goodness that is just not a responsible way to handle these things!!! Sounds like the odds are still very low, but wish they would have done a better job explaining it to you. Hope you are able to celebrate this news at some point, even if it is after your next normal ultrasound! Thinking positive thoughts for you!
Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry you had to go through that!!! I would freak out reading that on my own! That is so effed up! It sounds like your odds are very very low, but I know it must be nerve-wracking. I will be thinking super positive thoughts and say some prayers for you guys!
Congrats on your baby boy! I am confident there will be lots to celebrate about when you get the news that everything is just fine. *hugs*
I hate the anatomy scan. We had an echogenic cardiac focus on our second scan and an increased NT measurement on our first. A fetal echocardiogram revealed multiple ventral septal defects- we were told we had a 97% chance of having a baby with downs syndrome. At 20 weeks, I gave in and had an amnio. It was nowhere near as traumatic as I had envisioned it to be. While I waited the longest week of my life for results, Google provided me with example after example of people who got at least one abnormal finding on an anatomy scan. Our amnio results came back predicting with 99.8% accuracy that there was no chromosomal problem with our child at all. Our little girl was born, perfectly healthy. We were not alone in all the stories I found on the internet. If I had known then what I know now, I would never, ever have gotten an anatomy scan. All it did was cause worry/ stress and tears. Probability is not my friend, I like black and white. If you’re worried at all, get an amnio or CVS it is well worth the piece of mind.
Oh no, I’d freak out, too — and I agree that they shouldn’t just send you out with the report when it shows anything worrisome!
Congrats on the baby boy news! I hope very much that by the next ultrasound everything will look fine!
What the hell!?!?! They send you down the hall with the results in hand?!?! And then you meet with the OB? Wrong. Just wrong. I’m so sorry you had to go through that vs. just meeting with the OB afterwards. Seriously, I don’t understand why these scans don’t mandate an immediate appointment with the OB afterwards. Leads to so much unnecessary stress.
That said, congratulations on the boy!