Scans, surprises, and science…

Joseph Scan

Ultrasound scans are a modern tool used to give us so much more information than previous generations of pregnant women had access to… but can scans give too much information away?! I have now had two pregnancies, and I always found the ultrasound scan to be both exciting and nerve racking. It is such an emotional time, filled with great anticipation and curiosity. I have friends (my age) who actively chose not to have an ultrasound while pregnant, and they are confident with that decision, whereas, I have other friends who have had every scan, blood test, and any other medical observation available to pregnant women done. I think I am somewhere in between the two extremes. I have never wanted to know the sex of our babies before they were born, yet we have always chosen to have scans, perhaps just so we could rest easily, and also because I loved seeing the little baby parts moving around.

When my mother and my mother-in-law were pregnant, it wasn’t common to have ultrasound scans in the US or the UK. You’d find out you were pregnant, the midwives or doctors would check heartbeats, etc, and then you’d hope for the best. So when I was pregnant with Beatrice, four years ago, I asked my mother-in-law if she wanted to join us for our 20 week scan appointment. She had had three kids herself, and four grandchildren, yet this would be her first scan.

The three and a half of us went to the appointment. Husband, mother-in-law, and me with the baby bump.

What I remember from that appointment wasn’t just how exciting, emotional, and amazing it felt to see this tiny human growing inside of me. It was also how touching it was to watch my mother-in-law’s face when the baby first ‘showed up’ on the screen. She had been pregnant and yet had never experienced this moment. It captivated her. It was such a special thing to share. We were all relieved that everything went well, and we walked away clutching the sonograms in hand, smiling ear to ear.

Yet my mother in law could hardly catch her breath. She was rendered speechless by the entire experience, amazed and astonished to meet her 20 week (in utero) grandchild, and impressed by the incredible advancements in technology (and science!) in one generation since she was a pregnant mum.

Then with pregnancy number two, we completely lost track of which appointment we were going to – with busy schedules, juggling toddler child care, etc, so we brought our toddler with us. However, we had the funniest surprise at our 36 week check up. Within seconds of me laying down for the scan, the technician had located the baby and there it was, on a massive screen… a 3-D scan of our baby’s face. In an instant! Seconds after walking in the room. Perfectly clear, and detailed and so… REAL! And I have to say, it actually freaked me out a bit. I wasn’t expecting it. A face so formed, so clear, yet still unborn.

We had made great effort not to find out our baby’s sex, yet I was lying there and looking at the shape of its nose, the space between its eyes, and the slant of its lips. It was a bit bizarre, not to know the sex but to know such detail of the face structure. Incredible, and surprising. And I was reminded of my mother in law’s face when she saw our first baby. It is amazing, but almost overwhelming. It felt like the surprise had been revealed before the baby was born. It felt like a secret we weren’t supposed to know yet. Perhaps we needed a spoiler alert. : )

In the matter of three years, 3-D scans have improved significantly. I can only imagine what will happen by my grandchildren’s generation!

What did you do?… What will you do? … Did you find out what you were having? Did you want the 3-D scans? Or were you even asked if you wanted a 3-D scan? And would you ever bring the future grandparents to see the scan?

Lara. xx

p.s. – Fortunately the 3-D scan didn’t take away any of the joy or excitement when the baby was born. It was a HE! A boy. And yes, the 3-D scan didn’t lie, it did look just like him. An unexpected sneak peek.


Comments (6)

June 23, 2016

I don’t like surprises, so I do all of it! The scans, the blood work, the sex reveal. I want it all! I am also nervous by nature so every scan and test that comes back with a good result puts me at ease. Which is also why we wait for the anatomy scan to find out the sex (as opposed to the earlier blood test) because it helps take my mind off the nerves that they will find something wrong. We only did the 3D scan with the first though. I didn’t like the look of it, and my baby looked like me in the scan, but when she was born she looked EXACTLY like her dad and it really threw me!

Lara in London
June 23, 2016

My daughter looked JUST like her dad when she was born too!

June 23, 2016

This was my first pregnancy and I did all sorts of tests and scans because the doctor and the hospital I went to told me so and being a little nervous myself I felt better by doing so. I totally understand people who want to keep the surprise of the baby’s sex until birth though. Actually, I think it’s really brave to go so long without knowing! I was too curious not to ask for it! 🙂 A for the 3D scans, I asked for them at each ultrasound appointment but it never worked out 100% as Oscar was always hiding behind his arms and hands. We got a glimpse at his nose, mouth and one eye one time though and it was wonderful! I loved discovering a little bit more about our baby boy even if it didn’t really look like him yet, maybe it was still too early.

Lara in London
June 23, 2016

Congratulations! I can totally understand doing all the tests, if it gives you peace of mind. And don’t think for one second that I didn’t really really really want to know the sex of the baby, I am not usually that relaxed! I just thought I would go for the good ol’ fashioned surprise approach. 🙂

June 24, 2016

As soon as I found out I was pregnant my husband and I knew that we wanted to find out the sex of the baby at the 20 week scan. I had a strong feeling it would be a boy and I was correct! The scan also revealed that our baby had a congenital birth defect called a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. (CDH). This meant a hole in our baby’s diaphragm was causing his bowel to move up into his chest and was compromising his lung growth. He would need to be taken straight to intensive care for careful ventilating and then operated on if he was stable enough. I had a scan every month which was very scary and nerve wracking. But the kind doctor would always take a moment to show us our baby’s beautiful face in 3D. These images kept us going through the last difficult months of the pregnancy. I’m so grateful that the technology was available to diagnose my son. It meant that all the doctors were prepared for his arrival. Protecting the lungs with careful ventilating is key to CDH survival. Happily my son made an excellent recovery after 4 weeks at Great Ormond Street hospital. But sadly this isn’t always the case. CDH research is not currently funded by the government and needs support of fundraisers.

It makes me angry when people refuse scans. If I hadn’t had one my son may not have survived.

June 30, 2016

I am currently 15 weeks pregnant with my second baby and the technology has changed in just the two short years in between. We decided to find out the sex of our babies during pregnancy, although we contemplated waiting for the second. My husband just really wanted to know and it would be too great of a secret for him to keep (or for me to let him keep)so I decided to find out with him. As for scans, my doctor is of the belief that less is more so we go with her guidance. We have the standard early scan and then the 20 week scan, both are really great for determining even the smallest of issues. For example, the placenta during my first pregnancy was quite low and they needed to monitor it because if it was blocking the birth canal late in pregnancy, I would need a C section. This would be to avoid rupturing the placenta and causing very grave issues for both mama and baby. How wonderful to have that information and be able to prepare and avoid issues. IN the end, it was not in the way and we proceeded without a C-section. A friend of mine had her 20 week scan to find out her daughter would be born with a cleft lip. It gave them the opportunity to arrange the surgery with a top team ahead of time and to prepare themselves for what to expect. I think it’s really such a modern miracle to be able to check in and address simple issues that could cause harm to you or your child. I can’t ever imagine not having a single scan knowing what it can unveil. I had the 3D scan the first time but it was quite a surprise to me as well. They just turned it on without any warning or my asking. Not sure how I feel about that as much as just general scans to check in on the baby! But to each their own. Technology is a wonderful thing!

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