From the category archives:

Week 11

The description from Baby Center about what Nuchal translucency screening is:

This prenatal test (also called the NT or nuchal fold scan) can help your healthcare practitioner assess your baby’s risk of having Down syndrome (DS) and some other chromosomal abnormalities as well as major congenital heart problems.

The NT test uses ultrasound to measure the clear (translucent) space in the tissue at the back of your developing baby’s neck. Babies with abnormalities tend to accumulate more fluid at the back of their neck during the first trimester, causing this clear space to be larger than average.

The NT scan must be done when you’re between 11 and 14 weeks pregnant. (The last day you can have it done is the day you turn 13 weeks and 6 days pregnant.) It’s usually offered along with a blood test in what’s known as first-trimester combined screening.

Like other screening tests, an NT scan won’t give you a diagnosis. But it can assess your baby’s risk for certain problems and help you decide whether you want to have chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis to find out whether your baby is actually affected.

The NT scan has been performed in the United States since 1995, mostly at large medical centers. Ultrasound technicians (sonographers) and doctors need special training and high-resolution ultrasound equipment to perform it correctly. They must be certified by the Fetal Medicine Foundation in London, the organization that sets the international standards and provides the software that enables a doctor to evaluate your baby’s risk.

I sense that this test is the beginning of many ways that we’ve introduced new ways to worry about pregnancy. The desire to know everything comes from the fear that something scary will happen with the pregnancy.  But, strangely, because of the nature of these results, knowing more in many cases only causes you to worry more.  Not only that, but doing these tests costs money and also increase the chance of miscarriage.

Another statistic, mentioned in last week’s This American Life, which focused on America’s health care system, is that up to 33% of our medical procedures are not needed.  Because we feel like the insurance companies charge us too much, we in turn try to run up our hospital bills with costs to justify the big spending, which in turn makes us a country that spends a lot on health care but isn’t any healthier.

I suspect that the infinite number of blood tests, screenings, etc are a big part of that 33% of things that don’t need to happen.  Less is more.  By avoiding these tests, I will be saving money (our health insurance has a $3,000 deductible and only covers bills 80% after that, so costs are very real to us), we will be avoiding procedures that increase the risk of problems, and in the meantime we won’t have to worry about ambiguous results and statistics and false reasons to worry.

What do others think about this?


Becoming more real

by Milton on Thu, Oct 15th, 2009

in Parenthood,Week 11

It’s weird trying to balance all the practical aspects of preparing for a new baby with the totally 180 degree opposite reaction of the emotional aspect of becoming a father. I probably tend to over-prepare on the practical side rather than investigate the emotional side.

Reading this lovely blog, Dear Baby, from beginning to end has reminded me that I need to also spend some time really thinking about this new life that will be joining us soon. A real live person, built from my wife and my own genetic histories, going all the way back to the first walking amoeba.

I want to write this baby songs, give it a comfortable and beautiful place to grow up, happy examples of how to live, protection from the elements at first, and then help taking them on him/herself eventually. I want to feel the feeling of its own weight push against Esther’s belly. I want to know all about this baby that’s in there doubling in size every week.

I guess since yesterday’s ultrasound I feel like this is all becoming more and more real.  Real is good.  Being a parent is gonna be so great.


Here’s my in-progress list of questions to ask the doctor on Friday.  If anyone has any feedback, suggestions, additions, etc, let me know!

  1. Do you work with any midwives?
  2. What is your induction rate?
  3. What percentage of your patients get an epidural?
  4. What is your Cesarean rate?
  5. Are you okay with deliveries that happen at night or on weekends without inducing?
  6. Do you attend breech births? Frank breech?
  7. What’s your philosophy on going past 40 weeks?
  8. What’s your philosophy on big babies?
  9. What is your philosophy on what to do 24 hours after water has broke if there’s no sign of infection and mom and baby are fine?
  10. What kind of monitoring do you require?
  11. Do you allow movement during labor, and choice of delivery position, birthing baths, etc?


Went to another ultrasound today (we’re at 10 weeks, 4 days), and confirmed that the little fig-sized being is still alive, still a-wiggling, and seems to be in optimal position to continue to grow into a human.

I must admit that every doctor’s visit makes me put my excitement in a little box in case I am surprised with sad news and have to put the box of excitement back in storage for a while.  And, the good news always comes very welcomely.

Heartrate: 169 bpm

Size: 3.4 cm

Adjusted due date: May 8th, 2010 (same as from LMP)

I want to scan in the two little ultrasounds we have, they still don’t look like much (I can barely tell which side is the head) but they’re milestones.

We both feel like we can now be more confident in telling people about the pregnancy as there are no warning signs at all of anything going wrong.  We’re trying to tell people in person, as it’s more fun, but there will probably be a group announcement on Oct 23rd (Esther’s birthday party) and shortly thereafter on the internet.

Now, we gotta get serious about figuring out if we’re really going to do this with an OB and a hospital, or if we are going to go the midwife/birthing center/home route.  Just have to make a couple appointments.  But, we’re meeting with the doctor for the first time on Friday, and I think her answers to the questions I’ve made up will help guide us on whether or not she’s on our side with the non-induced, no-epidural, no-episiotomy, no-cesarean route or if we’ll need to look at the other options.

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A quarter of the way there!

by Milton on Sat, Oct 10th, 2009

in Week 11

The baby is also about the size of a kumquat.  Or the size of the head of a hammer, if you go by Tarzan’s pregnancy guide for dudes, which I prefer to do.

Day 70.  10 weeks, or in the 11th week.  However you want to confuse yourself.  Of course, this is going on the 40-week (10 month) calendar from the first day of the last menstrual cycle.  If you count from conception we’re 14 days less far along, give or take 7 days.  Yup.

But, since this is how most people seem to count, and it’s the one that gives us the “highest score”, I’m sticking with that.  2 more weeks til we’re in the second trimester and worrying is supposed to decrease one notch.  Supposedly.

Things to worry about this week

Seems like things become more exciting and more worrisome each week.  Esther picked up a cold in NYC while we were there, which has me worried about H1N1 (sigh).  It’s the only wild card in this that there isn’t a whole lot of “it’s normal, it’s okay, this always happens” in the literature.  Because, of course, it’s a new thing that people don’t really fully understand yet, and also because flus (and their accompanying fevers) are potentially pretty dangerous if you don’t do everything you can to keep temperature down.

But, a cold is not a flu.  And colds are totally fine.  I sort of annoyed Esther this morning with my meta worrying that the cold might actually be (or become) a flu (it doesn’t help that the CDC and other health resources are so vague about the symptoms… how are you supposed to relax when coughing a runny nose are signs of a life-threatening illness?), but of course she’s not worried and I know that she not only has all the information, but is also a bigger worrier than me.  So, I shouldn’t worry, right?

I’m not worried.

My way of coping

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m handling this pregnancy by over-saturating myself in information. Being in the huge minority on the babycenter birth club forums. Reading every baby-related book in site. Making long lists of things to avoid, symptoms of problems, myths, fallacies, and misleading studies only to throw them out once I’ve memorized them.

Esther is going through one of the most amazing, scary, and potentially fulfilling events of her life.  It’s happening INSIDE her.  I’m outside.  And yet I want to know what’s going on.  I want to experience some of the amazement, some of the scariness, and as much of the fulfillment from the process as I can.  So that’s why I’m acting like this, I think.  It’s just an observation, not sure if there’s any significance beyond that.  But I do notice that this is not normal behavior.  How do other fathers-to-be cope?