Mom shares secret, and fears

My Parenting Perspectives column for April 5:

This isn’t the column I intended to write for today. In fact, I wrote an entirely different piece two weeks ago to announce that I’m pregnant. Baby No. 2 is due in August. Then I got a phone call – the kind of call no expecting woman ever wants to receive.

Baby's First Picture

I’d had the routine mid-pregnancy ultrasound and everything seemed OK. I felt I was far enough along in my pregnancy, when there’s the sense of assurance, that I could spill the beans about my news.

But then, there was that phone call, the one telling me everything might not be OK.

The ultrasound revealed a choroid plexus cyst – a gathering of fluid in the part of the brain that makes spinal fluid. In and of itself, this cyst is no big deal. But it can be an indicator of a chromosomal abnormality, specifically Down syndrome or Trisomy 18, a life-threatening disorder. So, I’ve been referred for a higher-level ultrasound with a specialist. The soonest I can get in is mid-April.

The nurse who called me to schedule this appointment assured me the baby — it’s a boy, by the way — looked fine. That the cysts are common (Google tells me they occur in 1 in 100 pregnancies). More than likely, it will just disappear. The cyst may even be gone by the time I have the second ultrasound.

But that doesn’t alleviate my fears, or the tears I’ve shed, worrying about what could be. I didn’t realize I loved or wanted this baby so much until I was told something may be wrong with him.

A friend pointed out that 30 years ago I wouldn’t have had that ultrasound and wouldn’t know this information, and in both cases I most likely would have delivered a healthy baby boy. It’s a good reminder to keep the endgame in mind.

In my research, I came across an 11-year-old journal article by Dr. Roy A. Filly. In it, Filly questions the value in alerting mothers-to-be of certain abnormality markers, like choroid plexus cysts, when their babies likely are not abnormal at all, as usually is the case in low-risk women. He asked whether pinpointing these markers was doing more harm than good. The article’s title was “Obstetrical Sonography: The Best Way to Terrify a Pregnant Woman.”

In my line of work, too much information is better than not enough. But I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to not have gotten that phone call, to not experience this worry, especially if nothing’s wrong. Even if something is, am I better off knowing in advance?

So much for second trimester assurance, at least for now.

Sherri Richards is pregnant, has a 3-year-old daughter, and works for The Forum. She blogs at

16 thoughts on “Mom shares secret, and fears

  1. Dear Sherri,
    As the mom of a teenager with autism spectrum disorder, I sincerely pray that you will not need to travel the path of “special needs.” However, if/when you find yourself on this path, please know that there are wonderful, compassionate people all along the way. Meantime, difficult though it is, try not to borrow trouble. 😉

    People with special needs bring unique challenges, but they also bring unique joys! The joys are as different as the milestones, but they are ever so sweet!

    Peace to you. You’re not alone. <>

  2. Last spring my daughter had the same diagnosis with her pregnancy, and it was very worrisome for all. Things turn out fine and we have a wonderful healthy grandson who was born in August. I think that it was a lot of stress for my daughter even though she said it wouldn’t make a difference on their love for him, but my concern was what difference would her stress level have on his developement. Until the doctors could say their is difinitely a problem they should wait to tell you things but I also know it is helpful to prepare for your baby if there are real problems diagnossed in uthro and arm yourself with information you need. I hope you just try and relax because you can’t change anything now, I really believe your little one will be fine and adorable just like my grandson.

  3. I had the same diagnosis with my ultrasound 9 years ago with my daughter. I don’t know if it was because I was so young (22 years old) or what but they didn’t offer me any more ultrasounds which I found out they did for one of my co-workers a few years ago. The only thing they offered me was an amniocentesis which carries it’s own risks and I opted not to do. Instead I went home and googled it not even knowing how to spell it because the doctor gave me such little information and was relieved to find a site with multiple statements from people saying their babies turned out perfectly healthy and as you stated in your column isn’t that rare of a condition to show up in an ultrasound. My daughter was born perfectly healthy dispite having the thought in the back of my mind for the next 20 weeks of my pregnancy. I hope you receive some comforting news by your next ultrasound.

  4. We’ll continue to pray you through! You were chosen to be this little guys mommy! I know that this time of wait and worry is one of the toughest things that you will ever do. Regardless of the situation your life is changed, with the advance notice you’ll be able to face the outcome if the cyst remains and if it is gone….you’ll have a precious reminder of the gift of a healthy child, every time you look into his face.

  5. Sherri,
    My daughter-in-law was 20 weeks along when she was told that our Grandson also had this cyst. After many weeks of worrying, he was born healthy in January. I think this condition is more common than we know. It turns out her cousin also had this diagnosed in Chicago and her Doctor told her not to worry. I’m hoping that you will receive the same good results.

  6. Congratulations Sherri!!

    As a pregnant woman of “Advanced Maternal Age” your words hit home. I’ve sat threw enough reviews of charts… at this age we see a jump in babies born with [insert chromosomal abnormality of choice here]. If you’re interested, I shared my thoughts on my blog too.

    I chose to skip the tests that would tell me there’s a “chance” of problems. Like one of your commentors said – we are chosen to be the mommies of these babies. Regardless, you and I will have life changing summers as we welcome these bundles into our lives.

    Thanks for your frankness and sharing your story – I love your column!

  7. Thank you Sherri for sharing your story. I am also due with my second child in August. I just had my 20 week ultrasound on Wed. The doctor informed me that the ultrasound showed a echogenic intracardia focus (a bright spot on the heart). My doctor told me not to worry it and that this is very common, but then he went on to tell me the same thing that you were told. This bright spot can be a marker of a chromosomal abnormality, down syndrome etc. I received a call from the nurse today to schedule my higher level ultrasound with a specialist. Again I was told by the nurse that this is common and more than likely won’t amount to anything and was told not to worry. Really? Not worry? Impossible. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I am thinking about you and that you are not alone in this situation.


  8. We got good news today … The ultrasound was all clear of any signs of a defect, and the cyst was gone. I really appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers. I’m awed by how often this seems to happen to women. Katie — I wish you the best of luck on your ultrasound, and am crossing my fingers for good news, too!

    • I had my ultrasound yesterday and everything looks great. There are no heart defects and everything else looks great too! What a feeling of relief. I asked how much our baby weighs and was told one pound six ounces too!

  9. Pingback: A bittersweet sigh of relief: Ultrasound yields good news | Forum Mom

  10. I had this same news and im still so scared…doctors do not realize no matter how much they tell you its common, we still worry and stress. This being my first pregnancy, im so terrified..hopefully everything turns out ok.

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