When I was 20 weeks pregnant, my boyfriend and I went in for a routine ultrasound. The technician was really nice. She was checking out every inch of the baby, but for some reason she kept stopping and focusing on the heart.
After I left the office, I got a call about two hours later from the doctor. He said my baby’s heart was showing echogenic foci on its heart. These are calcium deposits that show up as small reflections in one of the ventricles of the baby’s heart. They told me not to worry, but I needed to go to a specialist.
Yeah, right: I totally freaked out. Nobody wants to hear that something could possibly be wrong with their unborn child. I couldn’t stop crying; I looked it up on the Internet; I called the doctor’s office with questions excessively. All of these things made it worse because the doctors were telling me not to worry, and the Internet said it could be connected to Down syndrome. To top it off, the appointment at the specialist was about three weeks away, so I had to wait a while.
Well, I finally went to the specialist, and they examined the baby with a more advanced ultrasound machine. It turned out that the baby was fine. The way they calculate your risk or possibility of having Down syndrome is through markers. The more you have, the more likely the baby has it. Well, showing echogenic foci is a small marker that is insignificant without any other markers present.
The specialist told me that since my blood work came back showing a very small risk for Down syndrome, and since I was only 21, the echogenic foci were insignificant. She told me they did increase my risk, but it was like I was a year older. The older you are, the higher your risk, but you really are not at increased risk until after about 35. This put me at the risk of a 22-year-old. She also explained the calcium deposit as similar to having freckles. It’s like a birthmark, not a birth defect.
As for what I read on the Internet, only about 1 percent of people with Down syndrome have echogenic foci. So it is not really an indicator of Down syndrome. I was so pleased to hear all this. I couldn’t believe I had freaked out about it so much. I would have been better off listening to my doctor. In the end, everything was OK. And, I just went in for a 4D ultrasound at 32 weeks, and I got see what my little one is going to look like, and it was really an awesome experience. And the baby is still doing fine.
I am glad I went through this because it helped me get closer to my baby. I never knew how deeply I would have been affected if I had lost my baby or if my child would have had to go through a hard life. I knew I would be devastated, but it really shows the connection a mother and an unborn child have, even before you can feel the little one. This situation for me symbolizes the first obstacle my family and I had to overcome as the three of us, and we have gotten closer because of it.
I thought it would be important to share my story for other mothers who might possibly go through this. It really helps me to get feedback from people who have experienced situations I am going through, so I wanted to reach out to other mothers. My advice for another mom going through this is to listen to your doctors. They know what they are talking about. All the worrying and crying only hurts the baby, and you haven’t received the whole story yet. Wait until they tell you, “Your baby has Down syndrome” or any other disorder that can hurt them. Also let everyone around you support you even when you want to just roll into a ball and cry. Hang in there and listen to the professionals.
Labels: A Scary Ultrasound Experience for a Mother-to-Be