BABY DIARIES 6 – 19wk scan “I’m sorry, it’s his heart”

Photo by Zoe Morley Photography

Just when I though losing the first one was my cross to bear in the motherhood journey we were dealt an unexpected blow.

Sam and I were at my 19wk scan. The lovely sonographer had explained to us before we even started that she’d spend quite a long time looking at the heart because it’s such a complex organ so not to worry if she hung about in that area for a while. As the scan went on she talked us through every detail (which hadn’t happened at our 12wk scan where the woman barely spoke to me). When she was looking at the heart she was trying to work about Mr’s arm that was covering his chest. We kept trying to move him about but he was comfy and wasn’t going to move that arm. She suggested that I go for a walk, have something to eat and come back in 30mins so she could get the final shot she needed of the heart. There were zero alarm bells for me at this stage. I told Sam he should go to work because he had an important meeting and was a little on the late side already. Mistake.

I did as I was told. Went for a walk, ate, sat in the sun and went back. When I arrived the sonographer ushered me into an office. There was a phone off the hook and she said that they’d found something in the scan and that there was a Dr on the phone to explain it to me. Of course, alarm bells start going off in my mind. Everything slowed down and sped up at the same time but I remember thinking to myself “A Dr is about to explain something to you. Do NOT panic or go into a daze. Pay FULL attention. Listen to EVERY word he says and take it in.”

He explained to me that they’d found a problem with the baby’s heart. It was to do with the major arteries but he didn’t elaborate or give any further details. He just said that he wanted me to go to Royal Prince Alfred hospital that afternoon to see a specialist. He was trying to get me in to see her as soon as possible but was waiting to hear back from her. He just kept saying “I hope I’m wrong so I want her to look at it”. You hope you’re wrong?! What does that mean? It didn’t sound good. He was probably right. He sounded pretty concerned and the fact that he kept saying “I hope I’m wrong” made me feel like if he was right it was going to be, well “not compatible with life” as they say.

I was in shock. Obviously. Sam wasn’t there either so I was alone. I was crying a little. Maybe more tearing up than crying. I pulled myself together and headed out to reception. I didn’t want to freak out any Mums-to-be who were waiting out there for their scans. Sunglasses on and straight to my car. Cried for a bit. Sam was in a meeting that he was presenting in so I didn’t want to disturb him. I didn’t know when I could see the specialist at RPA yet anyway so waiting another 30mins or so to tell him wasn’t going to change anything. I called my parents instead & just sent a text to Sam to say the scan was done and to call me when he was out of the meeting. I didn’t want to alarm him yet so I kept it pretty light. By the time Sam called I had an appointment to see the specialist that afternoon.

I was supposed to be going into the office that day and I had a few hours between what had just transpired and the RPA appointment so I went into the office to organise some things because I didn’t know what was going to happen after that appointment. To clarify, I’m working freelance at this point helping out on a production project.

I picked Sam up on the way to RPA. We were sent to the Fetal Medicine Unit. The waiting room had faded yellow walls, old fluorescent lighting and it was depressing. While we sat in there I could hear a woman whaling from an ultrasound room. She was inconsolable. When she came out she was heavily pregnant. I don’t know what she’d been told but it obviously wasn’t good. I had a pit in my stomach the size of a planet. What were they going to tell us?

Finally we were called in. The specialist started the ultrasound. She said she wouldn’t talk through the scan so we just waited. She looked at the heart. I stared at it on the screen. I’m not a doctor so obviously I had no idea what I was looking at but I could see the four chambers like there should be, blood in and out, beating, no big scary holes. What the hell is going on?!

When she was done she got a piece of paper and started to draw a diagram and explain to me what they’d found. “Your baby has a rare congenital (meaning present at birth) heart problem called Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA)…..It will require immediate attention at birth and open heart surgery….It can be fixed.” Using the diagram she explained what that meant in regular terms and I’ll try to explain it the best I can without being a Doctor or Cardiologist (though my knowledge of heart anatomy has sky rocketed in recent weeks!).

The simplest way to explain it is that his two major arteries are around the wrong way. The blood isn’t pumping in the right direction. What should happen is that the blood coming from the body with no oxygen, gets pumped into the lungs, the lungs oxygenate that blood and then the blood with the oxygen goes back out into the body and the cycle continues. With Transposition, the arteries don’t cross over so essentially the blood without the oxygen is going to the body. Obviously that doesn’t work. You need oxygen in your blood to live.

Ok, that’s a lot to take in, and I need a little break from writing about it because it’s still a bit overwhelming for me at times. More on the next post!

Thanks for reading,

NEXT CHAPTER: A Rainbow Heart Baby

Ash =)