Last Thursday, we had our routine prenatal ultrasound. We were asked if we wanted to know the gender of the baby, and said that if it was obvious then sure, but it wasn't a huge priority. We're having a boy. The ultrasound tech got a couple of good views and we brought home two photos--one the typical head-and-body, and the other one of our son's genitalia :)
Unfortunately, the ultrasound tech also got a couple of other views which aren't quite as good. My OB called later that afternoon to tell us that they think that the baby's umbilical cord has only one artery and one vein (instead of the normal 2 arteries), and that his kidneys looked a little dilated (which could mean that there's some blockage keeping things from flowing through normally). He did repeat that the baby's size, heart, and the amniotic fluid levels all looked good. I will be going to Missouri Baptist within the next week or so for a follow-up, more in-depth ultrasound. In the mean time, I also stopped by the lab on Thursday to have blood drawn for the routine "quad-screen" test, which can signal some "defects", including chromosomal ones. We don't have the results of that back yet. So we're in a waiting game.
Thursday and Friday, my husband and I did a little research online, and talked to my Mom (a nurse who's worked in NICU for probably 20+ years), and both have helped. Here's what I've pieced together (I hope I'm getting all my facts straight..please don't use this as positive research!) It appears that the single-artery umbilical cord is somewhat common. In about 25% of the time, it is associated with other chromosomal problems , but the rest of the time it is not. It is frequently associated with renal (kidney) problems, and according to my mom, when a baby is born with a single-artery cord, they typcially need kidney ultrasounds after about a month to see if they would need surgery or any treatment. A single-artery can be capable of sustaining a pregnancy to a healthy, full-term baby. They will, however, watch to make sure the baby is growing appropriately (i.e. probably more ultrasounds, especially towards the end to check the baby's size).
The dilated kidneys may or may not signal some sort of blockage or defect in the kidneys/renal tract. Many times they resolve themselves. One of the big worries here is that in-utero, the kidneys are producing the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby. Without sufficient volume and quality of amniotic fluid, the baby's lungs may not develop properly. After birth, if there is a kidney problem, the baby may be more prone to infections. Apparently, they frequently are prescribed antibiotics as a protective measure.
The good news that we know so far is that they didn't detect anything abnormal in the baby's size (so the artery isn't affecting growth, at least not yet), the fluid (so the kidneys are doing ok so far), or the heart (many chromosomal problems have associated heart defects).
The other, possibly-unrelated, news that my mom told me and asked me to share with the OB is that I was born with a pre-auricular tag. That's a funny-looking bump on the outside of my ear. Most of it was removed when I was a baby, but I still have what looks like a permanent, cartildge-y zit on my right ear. It's mainly a cosmetic thing. I've known about the silly thing all my life, but didn't know until now that they are sometimes associated with renal problems. I guess developmentally, ears and kidneys are related. My mom said that whenever they see a baby born with a pre-auricular tag these days, the baby generally gets a kidney ultrasound to check for problems. I don't know if I've ever had any myself (a few bladder infections and UTI's, but nothing major), but it might be related.
So now, I guess, we wait. And pray for the health of our little boy. And take a lot of deep breaths because anxiety over what might be won't help a thing.