Pregnant & Posting: 20 weeks
After quite a wait, we finally got a look at the little peanut that I've been carrying around for the past 20 weeks. (I was about 20 weeks, 5 days at the time of my ultrasound.)
My appointment was in the afternoon. First, we sat in the waiting room for almost 45 minutes past the scheduled appointment time. One of the things you learn pretty quickly when you're heading to the obgyn on a regular basis is that you need to be prepared to wait. Whether you're with an OB or a midwife, always be ready to wait when you show up for appointments. They may be called away at any time to do a delivery or deal with complications. You may spend significant time in the waiting room, you may spend time waiting in the exam room. Certainly, some providers tend to be more on time than others, but you may need to wait with any provider. I usually try to schedule my appointments in the morning whenever I can. I'm more likely to have a shorter wait this way. Because I understand that waits are possible, I never get upset about it (though I certainly hear other people get upset). I don't schedule other things within the few hours around my appointments and I make sure to bring a book or something else to do.
After the delay, my partner and I were escorted back to see the ultrasound technician. I should preface this by saying that they generally suggest that you try to come with a full-ish bladder when you have an ultrasound. It's not required, but it can help push everything up and allow for clearer pictures. By the time we went back, I was so ready to get this deal done so that I could use the bathroom! The technician had me lay down on a special reclined chair and pull my pants down around my thighs. It was cool because they had a big screen TV mounted near the ceiling so that we could see the pictures clearly. (With my last pregnancy, we were only able to look at the computer screen on the cart with the ultrasound.) The technician lubricated the wand and started to work on my abdomen. Thankfully, they keep the special lubricant gel warm so there was no cold shock! She was able to get a clear picture right away.
We could see our new little peanut hanging out in there. The little one had been very active about an hour before, but apparently had settled down by the time we got back for the ultrasound. The technician started by trying to get a picture of the face, but a little hand kept getting in the way. After a few minutes of pushing around, she moved on and started to collect images of the various anatomy bits. Ultrasound technology today is truly amazing. She could zoom in directly on the areas needed and immediately capture and print the images for the OB to review later as well. The technician measured limb length and checked out the internal organs and other structures. Even though the little one was not wanting to smile for the camera (so to speak), it was happy to flash us. The technician said right away that this little one looked like it had the bits to be a girl. The picture was very clear and she was quite sure about that assessment. After determining this, the tech went back and tried to get a picture of the face again. She pushed and prodded and finally got a clear picture for us. (So we were given print outs of a full side shot, the "it's a girl" bit, and one picture of the face.)
After capturing and measuring all of the other things, the technician also got images of the placenta and umbilical cord. The major vessels were properly placed in the cord. She was also able to determine that my placenta is anterior this time. "Anterior" means that the placenta is attached to the front of my uterus. (If you have a "posterior" placenta, it means that it is attached in the back of the uterus.) The placenta being anterior probably explains why I did not feel movement as soon with this pregnancy as I did with my previous one. (I consistently felt movement 2-3 weeks earlier last time and I believe my placenta was posterior then. I was also 10 lbs lighter, which might have contributed also.) In looking at this, the technician also noted that my placenta was a bit low. She noted this for the OB to review.
After cleaning the lubricant gel off my abdomen, we were sent back into the waiting room. After another 15 minutes or so, they took me back to see my OB. As usual, they checked my weight and blood pressure. I also had to provide a urine sample. (Thank goodness! I was so ready to pee it wasn't even funny! After having someone push and prod around on my abdomen while I had a full-ish bladder, I was about to burst.) Everything looked good, so I was put into an exam room to wait for my doctor. After several minutes, he came in to talk to me about the results of the ultrasound. Happily, everything looked good. My little peanut's bits and parts were exactly the way they should be. There were no signs that indicated any extra worries. However, my OB did mention the low lying placenta issue that the technician noted. He said that it is not placenta previa. So while the placenta is low, it is not covering or so near the cervix that it is cause for significant concern. Throughout the course of the pregnancy, the placenta will probably migrate upward and become even less of a possible issue.
Given that my pregnancy has otherwise been uncomplicated, I usually would not have another ultrasound. However, because of the low placenta, my OB will probably order one additional ultrasound toward the end of the pregnancy. My delivery will be a scheduled c-section. (I'll talk more about this in a later blog entry. To be clear, I am not having the c-section because of the low lying placenta. While complete previa is often cause for a surgical delivery, women with low placentas can still very much have vaginal deliveries. It is a decision that needs to be made after careful discussion of risks and benefits and the woman's situation.) My doctor wants to be sure he knows where the placenta is before making the incision during the surgery. By the time I'm ready to deliver, it will likely have moved up and not be an issue. For me personally, if he wants an extra look before preforming a major surgical procedure, I'm completely in favor of that.