The room is dimly lit with just a faint glow of the day’s sunlight peeking through a crack in the curtains of the ultrasound room. There is warm air flowing into the room from the heater but also the soft hum of the handy air purifier fan we purchased. The cool gel is spread over her belly, the usual nervous giggle as the nurse blots to keep the goo off the waistband of the patients pants. The nurse gently relays what will happen now. Confirming what she sees, She’ll point out the uterus and the ovaries and stop to measure. There is almost always the sight of the full bladder and the lines of the cervix and vaginal canal. Its all there. Grainy and grey to my eyes but recognizable to the nurse.
Depending on how far along the woman or girl is determines the next set of images and measurements.
The next thing the nurse will look for and talk about is what’s called the “Diamond Ring”. Really! How beautiful. As you can see in this image the yolk sac is the ring and the baby is the diamond! This is one of the earliest sights of life though its already at 5-6 weeks along.
Here is another image. As you can see, the yolk sace (the ring!) surrounding what’s called the “Fetal Pole” The fetal pole is the first direct imaging manifestation of the fetus and is seen as a thickening on the margin of the yolk sac during early pregnancy. It is often used synonymously with the term “embryo”.
For the most part all is silent in the room except for the soft click as the nurse types in measurements and the soft whispers about the new little life.
The next image is another beautiful and miraculous story. A baby’s heartbeat can be detected as early as 6 weeks- this image is 6 weeks, 4 days. A healthy heartrate for a baby in utero is between 110 and 160 bpm (beats per minute).
I am always in awe when the nurse talks about the heartrate and we see the small flicker blinking over and over and and over and the measuring “peak to peak” or “valley to valley”. Its so fast!! The life is pulsating and full of life and zeal! Next Step specializes in early OB ultrasound – from as early as 5 weeks 6 days to 17 weeks. Typically our nurses and I are seeing the littles ones – meeting some littles for the very first time!
The next image is a little over 7 weeks. This is still the First Trimester. Baby’s feet, fingers, and toes are developing as well as her internal organs. Even her brain waves can be recorded! By 8 weeks baby is considered a “fetus” which is Latin for “Little One!
The last image is of a 12 week baby. She is curling her toes and her little lips are making sucking movements! She may even suck her thumb. She is breathing in the amniotic fluid which helps her respiratory system develop strong and her oxygen comes from the umbilical cord.
So that’s it – in a nutshell – some of the very early images Next Step sees. A new and unique life.
Not a potential human but a human with potential!!
And you are a big part of all of this work. You make it possible for our nurse to spend time with this woman or girl and sometimes even the father of the new and vital life growing within. Praise Jesus!