Musings of a heart mummy: why I don’t get excited about seeing my baby on scan

​​I suppose there was once a time when going for a scan was exciting. When it was an opportunity to see my baby again, something to look forward to. I don’t really remember that though. The first scan with Jessica wasn’t exciting. It was an early scan due to a first trimester bleed. A scan where I prayed that I would be reassured that my baby was still there, still growing, had a heartbeat. A scan that I was anxious about. Thankfully it was a reassuring one.

 

The private scan I’d booked two weeks later was an exciting one I think. Our baby was still a secret between me and hubby and he was going to see it on scan for the first time. I’d been reassured by the earlier scan and don’t remember feeling anxious about it at all.

 

With the 12 and 20-week scans, I might have been excited, but I was also slightly nervous. Being a midwife at the time meant I knew too much. I knew that scans were to check that the baby was developing normally. They were there to look for concerns, rather than being an opportunity just to see the baby.

 

A 20-week scan picture - "Musings of a heart mummy: why I don’t get excited about seeing my baby on scan"

 

The 20-week scan changed us forever. I will never forget that moment of being told that our baby had a complex heart condition. A moment when our world came crashing down around us. I remember the shock, the fear, the thought that our baby could die. There were many scans from them on. With each one we prayed for encouraging news. Some of them gave us hope; at others the prognosis seemed to worsen.

 

Ever since then, I get anxious about going for scans. Being in the room where that 20-week scan brings those memories flooding back. I am acutely aware of the sonographer’s tone of voice, of silences, of how many times they measure something. Fearful that I will be told once again that something is wrong.

 

The thought of going for a scan alone fills me with dread. This week we had a fetal cardiac scan for Peanut. Hubby could not come with me and I wasn’t able to move the appointment. I didn’t want to go alone. I had kind friends and family members who would have come with me if they were able to do so. And yet, as thankful as I was for their kindness in considering whether they could come, I would have declined any offers to do so.

 

It might seem strange that I would prefer to face something I dread alone rather than accept support. However, having support at a scan has to be the right support, for the following reasons:

 

1) It feels a bit too intimate

Going for a scan feels like quite a intimate thing to me. I’m exposing part of my body and someone is looking closely at the inside of my unborn baby. Other than the necessary healthcare professionals, it just doesn’t feel quite right to have someone other than my hubby, or perhaps my mum, there for that kind of moment.

 

2) Having to manage my own response

If I receive bad news, I don’t want to feel like I have to put on a brave face. I don’t want to have to hold back my own response because I don’t feel comfortable crying in front of someone else or reacting in any other way that feels natural to me.

 

3) Managing someone else’s response

Having someone else with me means I may have to manage their response too. To deal with well-meaning but clumsy, or sometimes even hurtful comments. I might end up feeling like I have to reassure someone else, deal with someone else’s fear, even comfort someone else. I don’t want to have to deal with someone else’s emotions before I’ve even had time to process my own.

 

 

 

Although there are times like this that I might decline offers of support, it doesn’t mean that I’m not grateful for those offers. Knowing that people care enough to offer it does help. There are also many other times where that offer would be very much welcomed and accepted.

 

In the end, I went alone to the fetal cardiac scan. Yes, I was scared and anxious, but as can often be the case, the fear of doing something is worse than actually doing it. I knew the doctor doing the scan – she was a key part of Jessica’s care antenatally and we still saw her regularly until a couple of years ago. It was lovely to see her again and to update her with how well Jessica was doing. Best of all though, it was a huge relief to hear the words “the baby’s heart looks completely normal”.

 

Hearing that things are normal on a pregnancy scan is probably something many people take for granted. For me though, it feels like the most wonderful news. I may never get excited about going for a pregnancy scan, but they can still bring me joy nonetheless. Those six little words on that fetal cardiac scan report – “demonstrated normal cardiac anatomy and function” – are the best words I could have asked to hear.

 

Peanut's heart scan report with the words "demonstrated normal cardiac anatomy and function" circled

 

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18 Comments

  1. March 21, 2018 / 10:28 am

    I’m sorry that you’ve had some bad experiences with scans. I know exactly what you mean though about not feeling excited for scans. I’ve had quite a few reassurance scans, where I’ve sat in the waiting room surrounded by beautifully pregnant ladies, and I’m sat there wondering if there’s even a baby still. It’s a horrible feeling, waiting, isn’t it.

    Wish you all the luck for any future scans!

    Jemma x
    #BloggerClubUK

    • Louise
      Author
      March 21, 2018 / 10:42 am

      Thank you Jemma. It is hard when you’ve had a worrying experience with scans – you never quite take it for granted that everything will be okay after that do you? I remember coming out of the scan room after Jessica’s 20 week scan and seeing lots of excited looking pregnant ladies and wondering if I looked every bit as shell-shocked as I felt.

  2. Soffy
    March 21, 2018 / 10:33 am

    I honestly could have written this post. Back in 2015 I was experiencing my first pregnancy and our 20 week scan wasn’t happy either, my son also had a rare heart condition which had no treatment whatsoever. He was born at 32 weeks and passed away 70 minutes later.
    During my Rainbow pregnancy, a year later, I would really try to get excited about scans but that just wasn’t possible. I had so many scans and each time in that same room, it’d be unbearable. But I do remember those words fondly of ‘the heart is absolutely normal’ but the experience with my angel baby has changed my perspective on scans altogether. Thank you for sharing something so personal xx
    #BloggerClubUK

    Soffy // themumaffairs.blogspot.com

    • Louise
      Author
      March 21, 2018 / 10:43 am

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your son Soffy. I can well imagine how hard it must have been for you going for scans during your rainbow pregnancy. That reassurance that everything is fine means so much in that kind of situation. Thank you for sharing your story too x

  3. March 21, 2018 / 12:08 pm

    I’m so glad the scan went well and baby’s heart is fine. I totally understand why you chose to go alone. I didn’t know you used to be a midwife, what an amazing profession.
    Nat.x

    • Louise
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 9:20 am

      Thank you Nat. I loved being a midwife, it was such an amazing job. Not easy to fit around our family life though!

  4. March 21, 2018 / 1:13 pm

    I think scans can be quite anxious for any parent, but if there’s any previous bad news at them, that heightens it more. I wasn’t too bad, but my OH was terrified nearly all of the pregnancy, I think because he was just worried after his sister in law had a stillborn baby for her first. Thankfully all was fine, but it really does impact the run up in different ways. Great news on a positive scan this time round for you though #bloggerclubuk

    • Louise
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 9:22 am

      Thank you Emma. I think knowing that scans can give bad news can make them very worrying. I’m not surprised that your OH was so worried throughout your pregnancy given his sister-in-law’s experience.

  5. March 22, 2018 / 5:28 am

    I’m so glad that the scan went well for you and that all is okay. I have felt incredibly anxious during this pregnancy for no real reason why. I agree, scans are really quite intimate and the only people I think I want with me is my partner or my mum. #BloggerClubUK

    • Louise
      Author
      March 22, 2018 / 9:23 am

      Thank you Kayleigh. I hope that all goes well with your pregnancy and that your anxiety eases x

  6. March 23, 2018 / 12:08 pm

    I’m so happy that Peanut is okay, I can understand how you feel about scans though. I didn’t get any bad news with Star but I had to have regular scans because I bled throughout the entire pregnancy. I had a massive bleed at 29 weeks and they kept me in hospital preparing me and baby for an early birth. But the scan showed that she was fine and the bleed was put down as unexplained and she remained put for another 9 weeks!
    #BlogCrush

    • Louise
      Author
      March 28, 2018 / 9:50 pm

      I can imagine that must have been quite an anxious time. Glad that Star managed to stay put until you reached term at least!

  7. March 25, 2018 / 1:43 pm

    First pregnancy, first scan, and I was told the baby had no heartbeat. Had stopped growing around 9-10 weeks. I’d miscarried but my body hadn’t ‘responded’ yet… I NEVER took a scan as a happy, non-scary, occasion again. I totally get your anxiety and I’m so glad everything went well for you and peanut.

    • Louise
      Author
      March 28, 2018 / 9:53 pm

      I’m sorry for the loss of your first baby. I can well imagine that scans must have been very worrying for you after that x

  8. March 28, 2018 / 9:27 am

    Yes I really relate to this – especially having to weigh up having the company vs. having to manage someone else’s responses and putting on a brave face. It really is difficult and, however close our friends and family, it is completely different being the parent and living with it day-in-day-out.

    But I’m really glad that it was good news at this scan – what a relief for you. And congratulations because someone loved this post so much, they added it to the BlogCrush linky! Feel free to collect your “I’ve been featured” blog badge 🙂 #blogcrush

    • Louise
      Author
      March 28, 2018 / 9:56 pm

      Thank you Lucy. That support from friends and family is lovely, but you’re right that it is completely different living with it day-to-day x

  9. March 28, 2018 / 9:35 pm

    Wow, a poignant and heartfelt post, Louise. I know those feelings when a room or smell or just a thought can take you right back to a time of deep fear and worry about one’s child. Different reasons to you but the same emotions. So wonderful about Peanut’s scan, that must have been huge relief.

    • Louise
      Author
      March 28, 2018 / 9:57 pm

      Thank you – it doesn’t take much sometimes to trigger those memories, does it? Such a relief when we got good news this time around.

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