It has been nearly 2.5 years since I have written a blog post, but today this one felt necessary. The last time I wrote a blog post was the end of Anya's story, the day of her funeral. Today has been 3 years since the day I received Anya's diagnosis, at her 19 week anatomy scan. It has been 3 years since my world turned upside down and has never been the same since.
To the Ultrasound Tech who diagnosed my baby's congenital heart defect,
I wanted to thank you. Thank you for being excellent at your job, and taking your time to get the images you needed of the news that would change my life forever. You were nervous and quiet- but I didn't notice it then. You barely spoke a word, except to ask me if I was familiar with looking at ultrasound images. I said just a little bit; however, I was too ignorantly blissful that I was just moments away from finding out the gender of my unborn child growing in my belly. At that moment, I couldn't have imagined of seeing what you were looking at.
You spent nearly an hour focusing on my baby's heart. Her little, miraculous beating heart. You looked from every angle you could get as clear of a picture as you could. I vaguely remember when you looked at her heart from the bottom angled upward. I didn't understand why then, but was too excited to care. I just wanted to hear the words, "It's a ___(fill in gender here)."
You were so focused on what you had seen, that you had forgotten to tell me my baby's gender until I had asked. You had my chart in your arms with dozens of ultrasound photos on a strip of photo paper long enough they were nearly trailing the floor. I didn't notice then. You were nervously trying to run out of the room to get the perinatalogist, leaving me for a few minutes to bask in the excitement that you had just told me I was carrying a precious baby girl.
A little while later, you followed the perinatalogist back into the small, dark ultrasound room that you had left me in. You knew then that I realized something was wrong as you handed me a box of tissues. You stayed quiet as the perinatalogist said to me, "Your baby has a severe congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. It is the most severe I have ever seen."
I was shocked, in disbelief, as the perinatalogist flipped through the dozens of images you had taken of my baby's heart, showing me an image you saved that showed no left ventricle, no mitral valve, and a closed aorta.
Thank you, ultrasound tech, for seeing through my blissful ignorance and diligently doing your job. You gave me the opportunity to plan and have my baby in a hospital that is equipped to handle HLHS, rather than finding out after birth and having her transported to a different hospital. You helped me to give my baby a chance at life, as short as it was I am thankful for the time I had with her.
Approximately half of congenital heart defects are diagnosed in utero. The rest are not diagnosed until hours or days after birth, or most unfortunately at autopsy.
To the moms out there who think, it could never happen to you- that is what I thought too. I did "everything right" too. Always ask at your baby's anatomy scan:
Do you see all 4 heart chambers?
Can you see all of the major blood vessels and are they connected where they should be?
Are the heart valves formed correctly?
Is the heart in the correct position?
Do you see both kidneys?
Is the stomach in the correct position?
Why should you care about congenital heart defect awareness? Because the day before my baby's CHD diagnosis, I wasn't a heart mom either.