It was the very end of our 16 week ultrasound when the technician said “well baby is looking great! There’s just one little thing here, her left foot is turned in, so the doctor will chat with you about that. Everything else is absolutely perfect!” it was a cheerful voice but you could tell it was awkward for her to say, how do you deliver news like this to a parent? She guided the ultrasound probe around to zoom in on her foot and showed us how compared to the other foot you could see all the foot bones in one plane which indicated that it was turned in. She didn’t use the term clubfoot until I said it. It was obvious she was politely trying to tip toe around things until the doctor came in so that he could do the talking. I asked a handful of questions which she tried to answer vaguely and kept reiterating that the doctor would have a lot more info for us.
I sat there with a lump in my throat thinking oh. my. god. what else is wrong with her?
The first thoughts that popped into my head my were nursing courses which immediately equated clubfoot with genetic disorders. I was stunned and in disbelief. This was our fourth child, we’d had a bazillion doctor appointments and ultrasounds between them all and had never had any “bad” news. I didn’t know how to take it. I kept all of this to myself and remained stone faced while my husband sat next to me with a look of confusion. He had been distracted with our bored 3 year old trying to keep him quiet during the ultrasound and had only caught the end and looked up abruptly and said “wait. What?!”
The technician left the room and my husband and I looked at each other with concern but didn’t really say anything. It was quite a wait before the doctor came in, he zoomed in on the screen and made few comments confirming what she had told us, that baby’s foot was clubbed, at which point I drilled him with questions about how everything else was looking? Did she look healthy? How was her heart? How did her nuchal translucency length look? Any other obvious genetic deformities? My husband sat there wide eyed, he knew exactly what was going on, this is what I do when there’s a serious medical situation, I don’t let on how serious things are until I have an answer and an explanation and then I let him in on the details. He looked at me and back to the doc then to me and then to the doc trying to grasp what we were saying. I could tell he knew I was scared which in turn made him very concerned.
The doctor made it clear that he thought the baby looked great, his opinion was that this was an isolated condition and that there were no other issues going on which was a slight relief. I needed more convincing and asked him about an amniocentesis. He said we could definitely do that but there were obvious risks and even a perfect amnio wasn’t a 100% guarantee that there would be no other issues. In the end my husband and I decided that we would definitely do the amnio, that was the only way we could get the information we needed to know about what the future could hold and have some peace of mind. We opted to do the amnio with full microarray which was a newer genetic technology allowing the testing of all of the individual DNA base pairs within each chromosome. It would show any obvious chromosomal abnormalities but would take everything a step further to identify any micro additions or micro deletions of DNA that can be associated with other issues and/or syndromes.
I signed the waiver acknowledging my understanding of the risks at hand and nearly held my breath for the next half hour. The actual needle stick was painful for sure but I underestimated how much I would hurt the following 24 hours. It was no joke. I felt like I had the flu I was so exhausted and the abdominal pain and tightness was pretty terrible. I spent the next few days continuing to hold my breath, praying not to be the small percentage of women who miscarry afterwards, wondering if we’d made the right choice.
After a few days thankfully everything was fine but the waiting game persisted. It was AGONIZING waiting for the results. All in all, it took over a month to get them despite my incessant phone calls. Only a couple of family members were made aware of what was going on and we all waited on pins and needles.
The technician who had informed us of the clubfoot called me to tell me that everything was back and that the karyotyping was 100% normal and the microarray analysis was also 100% normal. There were no micro additions, no micro deletions, and no variants of any kind.
Our baby was absolutely perfect.
It was the biggest sigh of relief I’ve probably ever had. And so our Clubfoot Journey began. If I’d only known then what I do now I would’ve never had such apprehension and anxiousness. She was then, and is now, perfect in every way. Including her special foot. It may not be the road we planned on but we’re all doing just fine!
Read more of our Clubbie Adventures over here!