Joe and Emma were excited to become parents for the first time but 12-week scan showed a worrying gathering of fluid in the womb. Staff at the fetal medicine unit at St Michael's Hospital were able to use sophisticated 4D scanners to carry out vital tests. 

Chloe is our first child. When we had our 12-week scan, it showed a raised nuchal translucency, it’s where fluid collects behind the neck of the fetus. At that stage, we were pretty much told to expect and prepare for the worst. We then had a really awful few weeks where there was really nothing we could do except wait. 

Dr Tim Overton and his team at the fetal medicine unit were able to perform Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS). This is a procedure where a needle is inserted in the womb guided by the ultrasound image from the new 4D scanner. That procedure then enabled a series of tests to be carried out on a number of things that could have been giving rise to this raised fluid on the back of Chloe’s neck. Happily, all those tests came back clear.

The whole story of Emma’s pregnancy really was starting off from pretty low chances going all the way through to a positive ending. Each time we ticked something off, there was slightly more hope. Tim and his team were brilliant in terms of explaining everything and being realistic about our chances throughout.

Having then come back clear on all those tests, Dr Patricia Caldas then carried out an echocardiogram on Chloe’s heart at 20 weeks and picked-up a small hole in her heart. As it was so small we were told it shouldn’t cause a big problem. Had there not been such sophisticated scanning, we wouldn’t have been able to rule these issues out and put our minds at rest, so it was a big relief.

We can’t speak highly enough of everybody during our hospital experience. From the sonographer at Weston General who had to break the initial news, Tim, Patricia and the team at St Michael’s, and then the midwifery team during labour and the aftercare keeping Chloe in for two days for observation.

The staff were brilliant at explaining everything really clearly and giving us a realistic, but sufficient, amount of hope. Every single stage of the process has been absolutely brilliant and we were overwhelmed by the care that we received.

After we were walking out after one set of scans, Tim came out clutching one of the scan pictures that he was able to capture and print out - a picture of Chloe’s footprint. The little touches like that clearly show the staff going above and beyond the normal procedure and were really gratefully received.

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