Monday 27 January 2020

The 12 Week Fetal Medicine Appointment

12 Week Ultrasound high NT fluid - Cystic Hygroma
Today (Monday 27th January) we made our way back to Birmingham Women’s Hospital, 6 days since our last visit. I had spent my time wishing the weekend away, eager to get back and make sure that little Nugget’s heartbeat was still swooshing away. 

Having been told I was high risk for a miscarriage, that is what I’ve worried mostly about aside from the potential of a chromosomal abnormality. The thought of getting to 12 weeks and then losing the baby I knew was growing away would be even more soul destroying than our initial miscarriage.

We arrived back at the hospital with time to spare, I had learned my lesson about guzzling lots of fluid before a scan after last time, so I had a small drink in the morning before we left home, and after the 50 minute drive there... I really needed to pee.

I had to go to the toilet at least twice to release a little, as I was getting fit to burst! As we walked into the Fetal Medicine Department first thing on a Monday morning, I could see just how much busier it was in the AM.

Our appointment was at 10:10AM but it was more 10:40 by the time we went in, it wasn’t an issue and we patiently waited our turn. Eventually our name was called and we followed the consultant into a scan room.

I handed over my pregnancy notes and lay down on the consultation table, the gel was squeezed onto my tummy and Dr Thompson apologised for the coldness (not that it mattered as I just wanted to see my baby was ok). 

My tilted uterus appeared on screen, and then Dr Thompson played the baby’s heartbeat straight away as if he had known that I had been feeling incredibly anxious that it wouldn’t be there. The swoosh swoosh of our baby’s heartbeat instantly reassured me and then he got straight down to bringing baby into view.

Having a retroverted uterus meant that it was hard to get a clear image of baby, which of course makes it harder to do all of the checks and measurements that were needed. 

Dr Thompson stayed incredibly quiet throughout, but I had a screen of my own to watch baby flipping around on screen. I was told that it may be beneficial to completely empty my bladder to see if it would provide a better view, at this moment the placenta was posterior and wouldn’t be easy to get to for a CVS.

I popped to the loo and came back, more gel was applied and the scan resumed. A long silence passed, I tried to peak at Dr Thompson’s screen where all of the measurements were being complied. Not a word was said as he completed a detailed scan on our little Nugget.

I did wonder if this was good news or bad.... on the car journey over I had pondered the thought that all of the fluid would have gone and returned to normal, but the idea seemed like crazy talk. Well... until....

Finally Dr Thompson spoke and brought us up to speed on what he was seeing. He told me that our baby’s Nuchal fluid was completely normal, that he had Re-measured it and it was between 1.2/1.4mm which is in the complete realm of normal.

12 Week Ultrasound high NT fluid - Cystic Hygroma

No abnormal Nuchal Translucency reading, no Cystic Hygroma, no fetal hydrops, no abnormality.

1 healthy little baby growing away!

I sat stunned and listened, happy butterflies bubbling beneath the surface. He explained that when I was initially scanned at just gone 10 weeks, this was outside the suggested scan period. They say that from 11 weeks or a minimum crown rump length of 45mm that a Nuchal Translucency scan can/should be carried out.

If today had been my first scan, I would have gone in and everything would have been perfect. I would have left and there would have been no concerns over our little nugget. Not one. 

Dr Thompson explained that based on what he could see today, he was looking at a structurally sound baby for the gestation. 

In that very moment I had decided against even attempting the CVS. There was no way any needles were going near my baby when the only marker that had enticed the idea was not there, or potentially even a valid measurement. It was such a early anomaly that could have been down to something as simple as the lymphatic system being underdeveloped or many other reasons.

I can’t recall how I broached the subject but I know I let the good Dr know that I was now against the idea of a CVS and enquired into the possibility of the Harmony test instead.

With this he said that we should go and discuss all of our options in one of the little rooms adjacent to the scan room. We all sat down and got comfortable, I didn’t want to celebrate too early, but I was feeling like I was on cloud 9.

Dr Thompson talked us through the options, he said that he could attempt the CVS but that it would be a difficult procedure. I got the feeling that Luke was leaning towards this, but I had already written it out of the options I was considering. There was no way I was having a invasive procedure that would be even more difficult due to the fact of where my placenta was positioned. It was a firm no go for me.

Secondly we could opt for the Harmony test (NIPT - None Invasive Pregnancy Testing) which would involve taking a sample of my blood that has the baby’s DNA within it. This would test for the 3 Trisomies and give a high or low risk. 

This is what I was hoping we would be able to opt for.

This would then be backed up with a detailed echo that would take place between 16-18 weeks - This is where they will take a closer look at Nugget’s heart and make sure that everything was as it should be.

Finally... we could do nothing and they would discharge us.

We discussed all 3 of these options and the Dr left us alone to discus them amongst ourselves. Luke was confused about how I had now changed my mind about the CVS. He was of the opinion that we should be fully prepared and know everything... I was not willing to risk my baby and wanted to do the harmony test and then enjoy my pregnancy. 

Eventually we agreed on the Harmony test and the echo. We were left in the very capable hands of Vicky - the manager of the midwifery department. We discussed our decision but she couldn’t say if it was the right thing to do, but in my heart of hearts I already knew that it was.

They had decided to try and look at the scan image from the following week before we made our final decision. Vicky came back to the room with the consent form and I asked about the previous scan, she said that she couldn’t really use it as the image was ‘skewed’ and it wouldn’t have been the scan she had used in the file (our original scan was done by a trainee consultant) - so we didn’t really know if the fluid was the same level at the 11 week scan as opposed to either the 10 week or 12 week. At this point I was too happy to mind. 

I signed the consent form and we waited for the blood room to become free. We followed Vicky down the hall and I had my blood taken for the Harmony Test, it was painless and over as quickly as it had begun. We were told it could take up to 2 weeks for the results to come back.

After a tough 2 weeks of waiting for answers, I was now happy, the results would just concrete the relief I was now feeling. I finally felt like I could be excited about our baby and their arrival in August. 

Only a day before I felt like I was in limbo, I had reached 12 weeks but didn’t think I would be able to announce our pregnancy in the near future. All of a sudden I felt that I could say ‘hey, I’m having a baby this year!’. 

It’s amazing what can change in a day!

Vicky told us that she would call with the results when they come through, got our report and new scan images together for us, and off we went. Ready to tell our families the absolutely amazing news.

I have had such amazing care at the Fetal Medicine Unit, they have taken their time to answer my questions and provided detailed scans to help our baby. Now we are coming out the other side, and I am in awe of the work that they do. 

It’s time to start being excited about the new life growing inside of me, it’s time to start thinking pushchairs, baby clothes and start getting prepared.

A high NT brings clouds, but they don’t always rain.

If you are going through this nightmare journey right now, a happy ending is possible at the end of all this. 


  1. Last week I also had my 10 week ultrasound and the doctor was worried about the nucal translucency being too high. But he said we have to wait until 12 weeks to know for sure. I wish he didn't tell me anything ! I cried all week , I am a mess , I have a lot of anxiety , I cannot sleep , it's a nightmare and I have to wait for two more weeks. Your experience gives me hope ! Thank you for sharing ! I really feel every word you wrote !

  2. Just wanted to post because I know people will have arrived at this page googling "high NT" and will likely be in the horrible situation of having this news at their 12 week scan. Our baby's measurement was 4.2mm at our scan, and my world fell apart when this news was broken to us, and then as we waited for CVS results. I now always wonder if we were just scanned a little too early - it was closer to 11 weeks. Everything turned out just fine in the end and I now have a very lively and healthy toddler. If anyone reading this has received a high measurement, ask yourself whether you're actually 12 weeks yet - I think it can have a big impact. I also wanted to share too that at our 20 week scan the consultant told us that with a reading of 4.2 we were still 75% likely to have a healthy baby - no one ever told us this statistic at 12 weeks, and I think it could have really helped me, mentally. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for sharing your story, and I hope everyone reading this has a positive outcome. Pregnancy is such a headfuck!


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