This morning I had my first official prenatal visit at the health unit. Finally! It's only the third time I've been to the health unit since I knew I was pregnant ... but it seems like things are on track now. The doctors are acknowledging that there's a baby growing inside me, not just a miscarriage waiting to happen. As the doctor said, "You're never completely out of the woods, but getting that heartbeat was HUGE."
If you go by the date of my last normal period (off by a few days based on when I know I ovulated, but the doctor wants to go with it, so okay), I'm around 9 weeks along now. My official due date is 3 August 2010. I guess that means that officially, the baby is gestationally 7 weeks old, since the date of pregnancy is assumed to be two weeks before a woman actually ovulates and becomes pregnant. So, according to my pregnancy book, the baby should be about an inch long now. He or she should have elbow, wrist, and knee joints; fingers and toes; and external ear folds. Primitive neural pathways are forming. It's estimated that one hundred thousand new nerve cells are formed each minute. Wow! That's 100,000 a minute! What a HUGE little miracle God is working inside me!
Now on to the next big milestone ... early screening for potential problems. There are four options: (1) no screening, (2) an early invasive procedure--I forget what it's called--that risks miscarriage but can be done earlier than other screening, (3) amniocentesis, or (4) nucal translucency ultrasound plus blood tests. This ultrasound focuses on whether or not the baby has a nasal bone and on the thickness of the fluid at the back of the baby's neck. Apparently, this information, in conjunction with my blood tests and my age, is a highly accurate predictor of various problems with the baby, including Down's syndrome.
Jeff and I have decided to go with option #4, the only one that provides information about potential problems without increasing the risk of a miscarriage. We'll need to have it done in late January. We aren't at high risk, but the test is available and safe for the baby, so we've decided that we want to know. Many people want to know early so they can abort if there are problems; that isn't an option for us. No matter what, this is our baby, given to us by God, and we'll keep him or her as long as possible. But if there are problems, we'd prefer to have time before the baby arrives to prepare ourselves as much as possible. But of course, we aren't expecting problems--this is a routine screening that's offered to everyone, although the nucal translucency option is a new one. I don't think we would have had any screening done if the only options were the invasive ones that could potentially cause miscarriage.
Anyway, I just wanted to provide a pregnancy update. I'll continue to post updates as the situation warrants. Please continue to keep us in your prayers--as the doctor said, you're never totally out of the woods. We're so happy to know that so far, the baby is doing well and developing normally. We just pray that the baby continues to develop in a normal and healthy way.