· The Pregnancy ·
"I'm pregnant!" The tried and true home pregnancy test never
lies. A subsequent visit to the family doctor confirmed the test
result. My wife, Leslie, and I were going to have our first child!
12 May 1993 [week 18]
I went with Leslie for the first
ultrasound scan of our baby.
The pregnancy had been going along very smoothly to this point.
The obstetrician actually had an ultrasound machine right in his office,
which was very convenient. This ultrasound was routine and the
obstetrician said that everything looked fine. Despite that, he wanted to do
another one at 22 weeks, just to make sure. I can't say for sure, but I
think he had suspicions of something right then.
9 June 1993 [week 22]
The second ultrasound took place at the obstetrician's office. This
time nobody stated that everything looked fine. The obstetrician
brought in his partner in practice to study the ultrasound picture
and then told us that he wanted us to go to the
Ottawa General Hospital
(OGH) for a more in-depth ultrasound. He said that he suspected that
something wasn't quite right with our baby but would not elaborate.
His refusal to tell us what he thought was wrong led to a long,
worrisome night for Leslie and me.
10 June 1993
Off we went to the OGH. The ultrasound technician did
her work and was joined by one of the staff obstetricians, who told us
that they could only see one of the
ventricles in our baby's heart.
He wasn't quite sure exactly what defect he was
seeing, but knew that it was a
Congenital Heart Defect (CHD).
He immediately sent us next door
to the Children's Hospital of Eastern
Ontario (CHEO) for yet another ultrasound and a visit with the Chief
of Pædiatric Cardiology.
It was at CHEO that we finally got the Whole Truth: our baby had just
one ventricle where there should be two, a rare and complex Congenital
Heart Defect, known simply as
Single Ventricle. The cardiologist then gave us
an hour-long explanation of this defect and its treatment in just five
minutes! He spelled it all out. Our baby would need extended
hospitalisation right after birth. Treatment would consist of two or
maybe three operations: a
shortly after birth (if the baby wasn't doing too well), a
Bi-directional Glenn shunt, and finally a
Fontan procedure. That conversation,
which took place at one end of a long table in a cluttered conference room
at CHEO, is one that I will not soon forget.
My wife and I were in shock for the rest of the day. We wandered back
to the OGH for another chat with the obstetrician there. He talked at
us for a while about more tests and brain disorders that could come with
the heart defect, etc. Part way through this conversation, we realised
that he was trying to offer us the option of aborting this baby. That
was one thing that we would not even consider. That was a bad day -
the worst ever.
June 1993 - October 1993
The next week, Leslie was transferred to the High-Risk Obstetrics
Department at the OGH. They took excellent care of her and the baby
over the remainder of the pregnancy. Ultrasounds were done with each
and every visit (totaling fourteen). We found out that our
baby was a girl. We had about four months to prepare for the events
that would follow.