We feel like old hands at this scan business now. This is the sixth we've had, including those with Olivia. They don't hold many fears really. The 20 week scan is AKA 'the anatomy scan'; where they check all the bits are there and developing normally; brain, face, spine, heart, stomach, bowel, kidneys and limbs. Given we've had the nuchal scan at the Fetal Medicine Centre, we're very confident that everything is okay. The baby is also kicking on a regular basis now - evening disco sessions are the norm - and this is another sign things are fine. Of course, it is still possible that something could go wrong.
The other thing they do at the 20 week scan is tell you - if you want to know - the sex of your baby. Well, we've already been given a good indication of what it is, so this isn't as exciting as maybe it could be.
We made a decision to bring Olivia along to the hospital with us. The appointment was at 10:35, which wasn't ideal as she's usually a bit tired and ready for her morning nap at about that sort of time, but we figured it shouldn't take too long and would be okay.
When we arrived at the car park, it was rather full and I had to drop K___ and Olivia and search for a space elsewhere. By the time I got in there, we barely had a couple of minutes before we got called. K___ lay down on the examination couch and exposed her belly ready for the operator to squirt on the jelly. I had Olivia out of her buggy and sitting on my lap. I pointed out the monitor and explained how she would be able to see a picture of 'mummy's baby' on the screen. It's difficult to know exactly how much she takes in. Sometimes she can follow reasonably complex instructions, or, by looking at something you've mentioned, indicate she understands words. We say to her, 'Where's Mummy's baby..?' and she'll lift K___'s top to show her tummy and pat it, but what actual understanding she has of what she's doing is debatable. I suspect not much. Something like the scan itself is a very abstract concept to grasp, and she seemed rather indifferent, it has to be said.
Actually, call it indifferent and fidgety. By this point, the operator had started the scan, and there was a picture on the monitor. I pointed at it and said to Olivia, 'There's Mummy's baby!', and for a few seconds she seemed interested. The quality of the scans seems to have improved significantly since Olivia's time. Either that, or the scanner at Southend hospital was pretty poor. Now, you can see an awful lot of information. Most clearly, I remember the clarity with which we could see the ribcage and the tiny toes of the baby's feet.
Unfortunately, the baby wasn't co-operating in terms of how it was lying, making it difficult for the operator to get some of the measurements she wanted. She had the head measurements, and was happy they accorded with the dates, and there were the right number of limbs but it wasn't possible to see all of the digits unless the baby moved, something it seemed singularly disinclined to do.
Meanwhile, Olivia kept arching her back so that I was having a hard time keeping her on my lap. If you've never fought a toddler that doesn't want to be held, you may be imagining that it would be quite easy to control them. No so. They're surprisingly strong and you have to be very careful that if you're attempting to restrain them, you don't accidentally bash them in the process. Anyway, after a few minutes fighting, I ended up putting her down, and she promptly went off and started opening the bins full of medical waste (just gloves and the like, not hypodermic needles) and generally being a bit of a handful.
And so, on to what is - bearing in mind we weren't greatly worried that there might be anything wrong - arguably the most interesting thing you find out... the sex! Now, we already think we know what it is, because when we went for the Nuchal, the scan operator had a look. We know it's not 100% guaranteed, but nevertheless, we're pretty certain we know the sex.
'That's right between the legs there,' said the operator. It has to be said that the angle made it a little difficult to make sense of what we were seeing. At one point I said, 'Isn't that...?' only to be told I was miles away from where I should have been looking.
'Well,' said the operator, 'I'm pretty certain it's a little girl.'
What?! A girl? No, it's a boy. We've been told it's a boy...
'Well, it's not one hundred percent certain, but I can see three white lines and that usually means a girl.'
I honestly have no preference what sex the baby is, but it was a bit of a curve ball. We had got used to the idea it was a boy. We'd even been calling it a boy's name and now we've got to adjust. Olivia, on the other hand, doesn't really seem bothered.