On Thursday one of my close friends went for her 20 week detailed scan, she text me after to tell me ‘everything was ok, everything was where it should be’; I was so relieved for her and her husband. No one ever expects to be told that there’s something wrong with their baby and from firsthand experience, it’s, well, I can’t quite find the right words to explain what it feels like right now.
Firstly I’d like to point out that others have gone through a lot more than we have and throughout, but not initially, we’ve known how incredibly lucky we were and thankful of the fact that it could have been worse and that the prognosis was always good. I’m writing this post as a reminder to myself that whatever life throws at you, you can get through it. As my Doctor said to me ‘Pressure makes Diamonds’…..
As my husband and I were called in for our 20 week scan, we were so pleased to have the male sonographer, we’d seen him before and he seemed so nice and friendly, something we hadn’t experienced before with some of the female sonographers at the Mat Unit. We weren’t wrong, he was happy to find out the sex of the baby (although I’d already told him I was having a boy – you just know sometimes, right?) and was talkative at the appropriate moments. When I looked over at the scan the organs were really visible and I even questioned if that big black thing was the stomach as it looked massive but the sonographer ignored my question (I didn’t mind, I could see he was concentrating) and then asked us to go for a walk as baby needed to move round for him to complete the scan. We were so happy that we were having a boy, we didn’t really think about what it really meant, so we went outside for a walk and to phone the grandparents.
After 10 minutes the sonographer called us back in, I lay on the table and he started scanning the baby. Baby hadn’t moved round but the sonographer seemed ok with this and continued measuring – although measuring the same bit again. That’s when he turned to us, with a serious look on his face, and told us that he’d been trying to find a consultant sonographer as baby’s right kidney was enlarged. He explained that was called Renal Pelvis Dilation (RPD) which was a kink in the tube (ureter) that carried urine from the kidney to the bladder, which is very common in male foetus’s and usually straightens out in the uterus in a matter of weeks. He had arranged a scan for the next day with the consultant sonographer Miss Steel and told us ‘whatever you do, try not to go home and search for it on Google!’. We had a friend whose son had shown this at his 20 week scan and two weeks later it had gone, so we went home feeling ok with it all.
The next day we were supposed to be going to Centre Parks for the weekend so we packed our car up and headed to the Mat Unit. We waited over an hour to be seen as the sonographer was running late, we’d heard that she was very thorough and really didn’t mind as we knew we’d be treated in the same way. We were called in…
The sonographer scanned the baby and then we sat down and talked. She said the baby had Hydronephrosis in his right kidney not RPD. She explained that Hydronephrosis is the distension and dilation of the renal pelvis, which is usually caused by obstruction of the free flow of urine from the kidney to the bladder down the ureter. A little more serious than RPD as it could stop the correct development and function of the kidney. The renal pelvis should measure less than 4mm at 33 weeks gestation, our little one’s was measuring 8mm at 20 weeks. Miss Steel explained the best case and worst case scenario. Best case would be that at the next scan in four weeks it showed that it was developing the same and hadn’t got worse and therefore would probably not cause any problems after he was born. He would be given antibiotics as a prophylactic (preventative treatment) should he have a urinary tract infection. Worst case would be that at the next scan in four weeks the hydronephrosis had worsened in the right kidney, the left kidney had developed it and I had low Amniotic Fluid Index (AFI), then she would send me to Queens Medical Centre (QMC), Nottingham for immediate referral to see Mr McEwen and Professor Watson – two leading consultants in fetal development as early delivery would have to be considered in case the size of the kidneys pelvis had an effect on the development of the other vital organs. I asked if I could have done anything differently to prevent this – she said no. Off we went, worried sick with fingers crossed that it would be best scenario.
Four weeks later, worst case scenario! We even got put in the parent’s room while Miss Steel wrote a letter that was to be faxed to QMC. She even emailed Mr McEwen immediately after. We were numb, I couldn’t have my baby at 25wks, it wasn’t right. It should be there for 38wks at least. That afternoon I had a phone call from QMC and we were to go up in 2 days.
At QMC, we had our scan with Mr McEwen (their equipment is so much better than at PDH), he reassured me that baby wasn’t in any pain with the hydronephrosis. He then took us to a parent room and invited Professor Watson to join us. They explained that Miss Steel’s findings were correct (if slightly smaller than their measurements), his right kidney had severe hydronephrosis (30mm +) and his left kidney had mild hydronephrosis (4mm – 10mm), they were happy with my AFI and weren’t going to deliver then. They were happy for Miss Steel to continue scanning me every 2/3 weeks at PDH and should the left kidney get worse then they would see me again with possible early delivery. I should also point out at this stage that they diagnosed a Pelviureteric Junction (PUJ) obstruction. The plan of action at this stage (if it stayed the same) was that once Boo was born he’d be put on antibiotics, have a scan at one week of age, have a Mag3 scan at three months and depending on the outcome of the Mag3 scan, an operation to correct the PUJ obstruction or removal of the kidney at six months.
Every2/3 weeks we had a scan up until I was 34 weeks, the consultants’ were happy. The left kidney’s pelvis had stayed the same 10mm and they concluded that this was possibly as it was over compensating for the right kidney, that although the right kidney’s pelvis was now measuring 76mm, its size was increasing at the same rate as his growth and my AFI was constant. We were so pleased and had started to relax, the little man was going to stay put for the foreseeable future.
When I was 36 weeks pregnant I had a phone call from Miss Steels secretary asking me to come in for a scan on that Friday, we had no idea why as it was all arranged by voicemail and we didn’t think we were having anymore! On the Thursday I also had an appointment with my consultant Mr Srie as I’d had an Emergency Caesarean Section with my first labour and I had a choice whether to have a natural birth or elective caesarean, we turned up and although I hadn’t made a decision, he wouldn’t let us make a plan as we had the scan booked in for the next day. He explained that the reason we were having the scan was that Mr McEwen was concerned that Boo’s abdominal circumference was larger than the head circumference, so would I be able to give birth naturally anyway?
It was decided that a natural birth would be ok as the stomach is soft and would mould (gross!). By this time I was so scared about him getting stuck (as my first did) that I opted to have an elective c-section at 39 weeks and 5 day, Mr Srie agreed with my decision, a massive weight off my mind! We were over the moon to get this far with the pregnancy.
Boo was born weighing a healthy 10lb 2oz, I was really pleased with my choice of a c-section! He looked perfect. He was put on antibiotics and then the fun began. This wasn’t the end of our journey with Boo’s kidney problem; I will post about that another time. I’m not sure I’ve got the emotional energy to relive that at the moment.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, it is a bit long. Before I’d written this, it was easy for me to think ‘why were we so worried, everything’s fine now’, but reliving it has brought back all the emotions we went through, worry, anger, fear, jealousy etc.. I’ve gone through a whole packet of tissues writing this, I look such a state. I’m hoping that this has helped me to put this part of my pregnancy to rest; I will post about what happened once Boo was born another time. We have been through so much emotionally, but I am TRULY grateful and thankful that this was all it was. We were one of the lucky ones. What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.