20 weeks – anomaly scan

This week was a great week. On Thursday I had our 20 week anomaly scan. I was nervous about this – I think I probably was to some extent before the boys’ 20 week scans, because there’s all sorts of things that could be picked up as potential issues. But even more so given there are two of them in there this time, and I still have memories of our sad scan in the last pregnancy.

20 weeks

However, all was absolutely fine with the twins themselves and the sacs and placentas. It was lovely to see them in so much detail, I’m sure scans have become higher in definition since I last had them 4 and a half years ago. The print outs pictured below don’t do what I saw on screen justice. Or maybe the machines are just newer at this hospital compared to where to boys were scanned. They were both in good positions to get decent views of organs to check there were no issues, which apparently is quite uncommon for twins. I remember Joel wasn’t in a good position even just the one of him, so I had to go for a walk half way through his scan to see if he would move!

IMG_3899 IMG_3900ย The medical convention for labelling twins in utero is twin 1 for the lower one, and twin 2 for the upper one. This is because that’s the order in which they are born, if birthed vaginally. Twin 1 was the first to be measured and checked, and it was amazing to see him/her sucking their fist on and off, moving it in and out of the mouth, opening and closing the mouth each time – the detail was fantastic! Twin 2 was doing an interesting movement with his/her nose against the sac membrane, moving the head up and down as if sniffing/licking it. Quite often when the sonographer was trying to take a shot of one twin to measure something, there suddenly appeared a foot, hand, or head from the other in the picture. That was funny! Talking of funny, our nicknames for the babies are thing 1 and thing 2 – this is a reference to Dr Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat.


Another important point is that both placentas are posterior, on the back wall of the uterus. This is the best place for them to be, to avoid complications in pregnancy and/or birth that are involved with lower or anterior placenta placement. So that’s good news.

I was asked at the start of the scan if I wanted to find out the sex of the babies. I said no thank you, and the sonographer was great at telling me when to look away. We didn’t find out the sex of the boys until birth, for several reasons, and the same holds this time.

Above all, discovering the sex of our babies ourselves at the birth is a hugely important part of the birth experience for me (and Tom, though I think he’d go along with whatever I wanted on this as I’m the one who has to give birth ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) There are so few amazing surprises in life, I feel this is one I can’t miss out on. I have so far been blessed with quick and “easy” labours, which, compared to the sickness and nausea of pregnancy, I have actually enjoyed. For me, part of the enjoyment of the whole process of giving birth comes from the building excitement of finally meeting my baby and finding out all about who they are. Their sex is part of who they are, but there are many other aspects of their appearance and personality to get to know too, which you can’t find out from a scan.

We have already seen evidence from our two boys that sex is really not that much of an indication of who they are in personality anyway. Andrew and Joel are so different from each other in many ways, that knowing in advance that they were boys would have been no big deal. In some ways they are similar, but I don’t think this is entirely down them both having XY chromosomes rather than XX – the fact that they are brothers means their DNA will have similarities, because they both came from me and Tom.

We really don’t mind if we end up with four boys, three boys and a girl, or two of each. So I see no reason why we need to “get used” to whichever combination it is in advance of the twins arriving. We have always believed that any child is a blessing, and even more so since we experienced the pain of miscarriage. There are so many couples who struggle to conceive or to carry babies to term, so we feel incredibly blessed to have had the children that we have, regardless of whether they are boys or girls.

Most of our baby clothes are “gender neutral” in that they are white/cream/yellow etc. However, I personally don’t believe that colours belong to either gender, and have had no issue with putting pink cloth nappies and clothes on the boys. The blatant genderisation of clothes, toys and other consumables in our society annoys me. Just let toys be toys and clothes be clothes! We have given the boys access to all sorts of toys, and although their absolute favourites have tended to be what are seen as “boys toys”, they have also enjoyed playing with things such as dolls, prams, princess dressing up clothes and shoes etc. The same goes for clothes since they have been old enough to have a say. So it will make no difference if the twins are boys or girls, they will be dressed in any clothes that fit and play with any toys that are age appropriate.

We are just hoping and praying for healthy babies, an uncomplicated pregnancy, and a safe arrival. And we are looking forward to meeting them, whether boys, girls, or one of each. This is the kind of reply I’m having to give quite often when people make comments such as “I bet you’re hoping at least one is a girl!” or “What will you do if they’re both boys?!” I get the impression that not everyone shares our lack of obsession with sex and gender ๐Ÿ˜‰ Now to come up with several names for all eventualities!

After the scan, I had to go for my usual visit to a doctor in the twins clinic. Unusually there wasn’t a very long wait there (and the scan had also been surprisingly punctual!) First up was a blood pressure test, and of course it was high. Although I was by that time relieved that the scan was over and had gone well, my BP had been raised even since the morning at home, compared to what it has been consistently on non-hospital days, and I could feel the sensations of anxiety in myself – heart pounding, sweaty, dry mouth etc. It did come down a little on a second reading. As usual, there were no signs of protein in my urine.

The plan was to talk to the doctor about coming off the drug to lower my BP, because it has been going too low at home, making me feel dizzy – I only get high BP in hospital when I’m anxious. My parents had been advising me on this, as you have to cut down gradually to avoid a rebound reaction of higher BP. So my mum offered to come with me, to explain her opinion on this, since the last doctor I saw was adamant that I still needed to take it and just put up with the dizziness.

Well the doctor at this appointment couldn’t have had a more opposite opinion! After I explained, she didn’t hesitate to tell me I don’t need to take it any more! My mum didn’t even need to say anything. Just like another previous doctor I had seen, she admitted that doctors often over medicalise twin pregnancies, when actually there’s nothing to worry about. She was happy that I’m self-monitoring my BP at home, and that I would say if I see any changes that look worrying. And that was that! She said I just need to go back in 4 weeks for our first growth scan. From now on I will have scans every 4 weeks until birth, to check that the twins are growing well.

I find it quite difficult that I never see the same doctor twice – I’ve seen 4 different ones at the twins clinic, and 3 at the day assessment unit, all of which have had slightly different opinions on whether my BP is really an issue. Every time I have to explain afresh why my readings are high in hospital but not at home. But this is just the way it is. I wonder which new doctor I’ll see next time…..

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