Fifteen years ago, I was expecting my second child and went along for a scan at about 22 weeks. I remember that the echo machine was new, and being demonstrated to some pupil midwives – I was quite happy to show off my unborn infant, but it was irritating that I couldn’t see the screen.
To begin with there was lots of chortling – oh, you can see the head … I didn’t realise they moved so much … I can count the fingers.
The radiographer was saying look, there are the kidneys and we can get a really good look at the heart. Then she went silent. When one of the others asked her what she was looking at she said ‘I’m just looking to see if I can show you all four chambers – but the baby is not in a good position.’ Then she asked me if I would take a walk around so that the baby would change position. I was quite flattered that she was using me and my perfect baby to teach what foetal organs should look like.
When I went back after 15 minutes, there was a man in the room with the radiographer and the midwives had all left. She muttered something about the doctor being interested, and off we went again. They muttered between themselves, and took lots of pictures, and I asked if I could see. Then I was told that someone who specialised in hearts would want to see them, and I wasn’t to worry. Do you know, my first feeling was one of betrayal. How could they have pretended to be admiring the baby when in fact they thought there was something wrong?
In fact, Emma had TGA without a VSD, and after several more scans, I was booked to give birth at a time convenient to the surgical team, so that they could operate on her as soon as she was born. As it happened I went into labour a couple of weeks early and had to have a Caesarean, Emma was whisked off, and the next time I saw her she was post op, having had her arteries switched around, been through intensive care and back on the Baby Ward.
She is checked every year, and has a mild leak through her aortic valve. She has just taken 10 GCSEs a year early and got high grades in them all. I sometimes think that my scars from that time are much worse than hers.