Part 6 - Gender Reveal & Unexpected Consultant Appointment
Welcome to my weekly blog on impending fatherhood. I’m Jim, my wife’s name is Daisy, I turn 50 in September and Daisy is 37, and we're expecting our first child - hence The Geriatric Dad Blog! This is a proper, ‘in real life’ read from a man's perspective, so I hope you enjoy and follow the series as we go from pregnancy tests, to first scans, through all the ups and downs of impending parenthood. This week - the gender reveal...
First up, I must apologise. I didn't update the blog last week. No real excuses, other than to say it was my parents' golden wedding anniversary and we all got together for a long weekend to celebrate when normally I write it up and post it!
As part of that celebration, Daisy and I also did a gender reveal, as just a few days previous we'd paid to have a private scan in which we could check the progress baby was making and find out if Sprout - as we've come to affectionately call our baby - was a boy, or girl.
The set-up at the private clinic is small, but pretty good. You walk in, sit down, run through your pregnancy notes with one of the nurses and confirm what it is you are looking for from your scan.
Then you pay - in this case, £70.
Cynically, I suppose they request payment before the scan because - well - how terrible would it be to have to ask for money from parents after a scan has revealed something isn't quite as it should be?
I know and appreciate how lucky we are to be in a position to be able to afford these private scans. Not everyone can.
But if you can, and if you're older prospective parents - like we are: Daisy is 37 and I'm almost 50 - then I would highly recommend it. They definitely offer a regular peace of mind that the NHS doesn't have the capacity to match, unless you're a high-risk pregnancy.
Bag of nerves, x1
As per normal before this latest scan, I was a bag of nerves.
What would happen if Edward the sonographer found something wrong? Or if the worst had happened?
These things do happen. Only the day before, a poor lady on Daisy's October 2022 Facebook Mums group had suffered that very horror. Foetal mortality is a very real possibility in any pregnancy, with the risk at its highest in the first trimester. It's always on my mind before every appointment we have, whether privately, or with our chosen NHS maternity unit.
Edward squeezed a liberal amount of gel on Daisy's tummy and started the scan. I clutched Daisy's hand tightly and could feel her pulse racing. Then, I looked up at the screen.
And there was Sprout! At almost 17 weeks, Sprout was almost a complete mini human, the size of an avocado.
And there was Sprout's heartbeat, furiously pumping away. And there were the frontal lobes of his brain, the organs forming in his abdomen.
And all, according to Edward, were as they should be. The relief I felt... was indescribable.
Edward switched the sound on and, for the first time, we listened to Sprout's heartbeat. A wave of emotion such as I've never experienced before passed over me and my eyes watered up a bit, though I did the 'stiff upper lip' British thing and suppressed all the emotion as best I could.
Daisy, though, did briefly cry. I handed her a tissue to wipe away the tears.
Do you want to know Sprout's gender?
The scan continued and, there in front of me, I was suddenly sure I could see a 'winky'!
"LOOK!" I exclaimed. "Sprout has a winky! He's a boy!!!"
The nurses in the room stifled giggles as Edward the sonographer quietly explained that what I'd seen was a bit of Sprout's umbilical cord. Ahem. Daisy was less than impressed and apologised for my excited outburst.
"So you definitely want to know the gender?" Edward asked.
"Yes, yes!" Daisy and I said, loudly.
Edward zoomed in between Sprout's legs to have a closer look. "Well..." he said, adding a dramatic pause. "I can tell you... it's a boy! Look there - you can see his scrotum forming, and there his penis."
(I noted that Edward, being the pro he is, unlike me declined to use the word 'winky').
"IT'S A BOY!!!" said Daisy. "It is a BOY!" I repeated.
On the way out of the scan, we were suddenly upsold just about everything the clinic offered. Photos? Tick. Video of Sprout moving about? Tick. Cuddly toy bear with Sprout's heartbeat recording added? Tick. A blue confetti cannon for a family gender reveal? Tick!
We bought, we left, we were happy; though the bank account was substantially lighter than when we'd walked in.
Family gender reveal
I'd hinted in my last blog that a small number of family members didn't want to know what gender Sprout was. And they'd made it clear they didn't agree with our decision to find out.
I find this odd. Such a decision, in my view, is for parents and parents alone. Whether we wanted the surprise at birth, or - as we chose, via a scan - was our call and nobody else's.
"Call us old fashioned, but we don't want to know," they said.
Okay, but that being the case, don't blame us if someone else who does want to know accidentally spills the beans. Just please be happy for us and go along with it. Is that so difficult?
Still, both our parents were on-side and the following weekend, we did the gender reveal using the confetti canon at the end of my parents' anniversary meal. It was a lovely way to end the evening and didn't distract too much from the purpose of the main celebration, which of course was their marriage, not our Sprout.
Unexpected consultant appointment in the post
Our anxiety-free period of joy was short-lived, though.
A few days later, Daisy received an email saying she'd been requested to go for a glucose test indicating risk of gestational diabetes.
The test involves the pregnant woman fasting for 12 hours before having a blood test, drinking a glucose drink immediately after that blood is taken, then a second blood test two hours later to see if the body has processed the glucose as it should.
We were confused. A few days before, we'd had an appointment with our community midwife where our pregnancy had been categorised as 'low risk'.
Daisy was older, for sure, but her diet is good, she doesn't drink or smoke and she's fit. She runs. She is not obese. So why did we need that test at 17 weeks?
Daisy posted about it on her Facebook group. No other mums had been offered the same test. The mystery deepened. What had we missed?
We called our midwife - she hadn't ordered the test. We called the mat unit - they knew nothing about it, either. Was anyone talking to anyone?
Then, we got a letter through the post asking us to attend an appointment with the obstetrics consultant on the Friday upcoming. Which, for anyone superstitious, happens to be Friday 13th (tomorrow, as I write this).
No reason for the appointment was given. Nobody could explain it on the phone, when (again) we called the mat unit and our midwife. Either that, or they weren't prepared to say over the phone.
What was wrong? Had the consultant (who we've not met or spoken to) seen something on a scan that nobody else had picked up on? Or seen something in a blood test result that wasn't on Daisy's notes?
We checked her notes. Once, twice, three times. Bloods - normal. Urine test - normal and, interestingly, negative for glucose. What could it be? It made no sense.
Bag of nerves, x2
So as I write this, I am a bag of nerves yet again.
Of course, I will go with Daisy to the appointment tomorrow. But we are both worried. It seems to be highly unusual. Why would someone who has had three normal scans and has been classed as 'low risk' need to see a consultant?
What could be wrong? They're not going to waste NHS time seeing a prospective mum and baby who are perfectly healthy, surely?
Tomorrow we'll find out. And I'll write about it next week, whatever happens.
Until then, we're both praying that Sprout is ok and that he continues to make good progress growing inside Daisy's womb.
What else can we do?