Anyone else a huge checklist person? I feel like checklists totally keep me in line and productive. Throughout this crazy journey, I feel like there has been this imaginary checklist, but it doesn’t give me the same feeling as the ones I make on my colorful post-it notes at work or home. It’s imaginary, but so prevalent in my mind. We have to go test-by-test to ultimately have an answer for Baby K.
The next thing on our checklist was a fetal echocardiogram. One thing Kyle and I knew we would have to eventually face as parents (or soon-to-be parents) is working closely with a fetal cardiologist. We knew this before we even began TTC because of a heart condition Kyle was diagnosed with just 4 short years ago. He has something called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which is an enlarged heart. This is the heart condition you often hear athletes collapsing from during sporting events and unfortunately not surviving. It’s quite scary to think about since he has been very athletic his whole life; he played sports from a young age and all through college.
Now that he is diagnosed and we know this condition can be genetic, we are able to take precautions when necessary. Although we didn’t exactly know what this would entail when we had babies of our own, we did know that this condition is liveable and manageable as long as there is a diagnosis. We feel confident and educated enough through his experience that it is something we can successfully manage if need be.
Knowing that the chromosomal and DNA testing came back normal, Kyle and I for sure thought that his heart condition had to be the main cause of this cystic hygroma. We weren’t sure exactly how HCM impacts a fetus, especially one that is only 19 weeks gestation, until we dove deep into conversation with the fetal cardiologist and genetic counselor.
Since HCM affects the size of the heart (yes, my husband has a big heart…literally and figuratively- I’m a lucky lady), there seems to be no current research being able to diagnose it in a fetus because the heart is still developing and growing. Typically, this heart condition wouldn’t be diagnosed until teenage years (according to the genetic counselor who specializes in the heart). However, it can be carried within a gene. Knowing this, when Baby K is born, our little family will be frequent visitors to Lurie Children’s HCM clinic to have genetic testing and monitoring done to be as prepared as possible for this potential inheritance.
After learning this, I felt even more nervous going into our echocardiogram. If it wasn’t the expected heart condition of HCM, then does that mean our little girl has a different heart condition or defect? Is it so severe that she will need heart surgery as soon as she’s born? Is it something that will mend itself in the womb before birth? So many thoughts, questions, and feelings.
As we headed into the appointment, we were honestly so excited on top of our nerves. We heard amazing things about the fetal cardiologist we were seeing from Lurie Children’s Hospital and have been so interested in the heart ever since Kyle’s diagnosis. We entered the room, which was the same room where I had my amnio and the doctor began scanning. A fetal echocardiogram is a very detailed ultrasound of the baby’s heart. The doctor walked us through every little piece and part of the heart she was able to see at 19 weeks gestation. She showed us blood flow and how the chambers were working together as well as the various veins and arteries that are important to heart health.
It was unreal; so fascinating to see this little heart beating away!
After the scan, the doctor drew up a diagram and explained everything on paper for us. I’ll save y’all the medical terms, but she said that at this point in development, Baby K’s heart is looking strong and well-developed! She was explaining the parts of the heart that she keeps a close eye on through development because those are the areas that are most commonly in concern in a fetus. A baby’s heart actually has some openings and extra arteries as a fetus because it is pumping blood and oxygen from the mom/placenta and when the baby is born it is important that those openings close properly. Crazy, right?! But it all makes total sense.
She felt that it was important that she does another echo on Baby K in about 10 weeks (mid-end of August) to make sure things are still progressing and developing as expected and there aren’t any concerns.
So, as we go down the checklist, we can check another test off our list! Another great day with some good news about Baby K to celebrate! We could really get used to this good news stuff 😉