Why I Did the Nuchal This Time (And Didn't the First)


In my first pregnancy, I did not do the first trimester screening (nuchal/ultrasound). At the time, I think it was the right decision for me. I simply didn’t want any mixed feelings about the pregnancy. I already knew I wanted to  carry it to term regardless of a Down Syndrome or other diagnosis, and I wanted to live fully in the newly pregnant bliss.

How serious were we about keeping the little one swathed in secrecy? We also declined to find out the sex when we had our first and only ultrasound in the second trimester. Perhaps it was a little naive, but I figured women had been having more or less “blind” births for some time and been doing fine.

This time around, however, feels different. First, I understand the depth of love a parent has for his or her own child. That kind of love is really a mystery until you have a baby, but once you do, you realize that there’s nothing that can be “wrong” with your child that will change your love for him or her.

Having the knowledge of unconditional love, I also have the knowledge of how incredibly difficult it is to raise a child (those first three months still haunt me!). I imagine that raising a child who has a physical or mental disability would be even more difficult, and I wanted to be ready for it–or at least the possibility. Instead of being scared, I would be prepared.

As well, I’m now in the over 35 danger zone. Not sure how many of you out there have delivered one child in the under 35 bracket and another in the over 35, but even my midwife–who last time had not seemed bothered by my skipping the first trimester screening ultrasound–recommended I go this time. The attitude is markedly different when you cross the 35 threshold.

And so I went. An hour in the waiting room even though I had the first appointment of the morning. More than an hour of being poked, prodded, shaken, jiggled, turned on my side, handed glasses of cold water. This baby did NOT want to be in the proper position. Finally the ultrasound technician got what she wanted. And we are in the clear, which, of course, is a sigh of relief. And I got the resulting amusing photo of my baby doing a headstand.

I’m wondering if other woman have made a switch in attitude on the first trimester screening from first to second babies–maybe you went the other way around? I’d love to hear your thoughts and reasoning.