Why I Dislike Baby Scans

Scan (verb): Look at all parts of something carefully in order to detect some feature

Someone from the loss community said “I’m sorry that you generally don’t like baby scans” and it made me realise, huh, she doesn’t understand why that would be the case. I didn’t mind that comment, it just made me realise, perhaps I haven’t explained it very well.

No, I’m not jealous, it’s called trauma.

I’ve blogged that I dislike baby scans – seeing them, receiving them, having them done – simply because James and I have had such a horribly mixed journey with them. We have had over 20 scans, yet never a 20 week scan.

With BoC – our first ever experience of baby scans, as hopeful and naïve parents  –  we had a scan with no fetal heartbeat. With our second pregnancy, My Baby, we got to see ‘her’ heart beat plenty (we had lots of scares and lots of scans), but it didn’t last. And with Summer? Just pause a moment to reflect on this: with Summer, towards the end, we were in the heart-breaking position of having scans twice daily, with all onlookers hoping that her heart had stopped beating (Summer was making me very ill and the doctors recommended a termination for my safety). All of those scans, holding our breath for a heartbeat and then the complete opposite – Summer had other plans though. Good girl.

So scans do not fill me with excitement, they fill me with dread.

When I see a scan, it’s an assault on the senses. A black and white reminder. I don’t need to see your scan, to understand that you’re pregnant. The word, by itself, is enough.

When a colleague got engaged, she didn’t put the news on social media, when I asked her about that, she said she’d been waiting for a proposal for so long, that seeing others on social media used to upset her. At the time, I didn’t understand it. I do now: it’s the same for me with baby scans.

People do a weird thing, they go “oh, I know you don’t like baby scans, but you’ll like MY one won’t you?” People do this all the time (my family have even comically done it with James and spinach. He hates spinach, but people say “oh but try my saag (Indian spinach), you’ll like mine!”) and when I wrote a blog to say I didn’t want to receive any more pregnancy announcements this year, unless it’s from the loss community, I received a few messages to say “you wouldn’t mind mine though, would you?”.

I understand that it’s somewhat contradictory, because I’ve always loved being pregnant and I often look back at our scans. Bruthfully, I’d like to be able to enjoy other people’s baby scans, I just don’t at the moment. Good old gluckschmerz! Maybe one day though.

Yo, pregnant lady, I know this makes it difficult for you. What the heck are you supposed to do? Not share your scan or celebrate because some people have lost their babies? Wise up! Even I know that’s unrealistic and asking way too much. In all honesty, I have no idea how you’re supposed to tell me you’re pregnant. I have thought about this a lot. There is no good way for me to hear the news. One friend said “I think I’d have to write you a letter” – that wasn’t a bad shout. I think I’d feel bad about her having to go to the trouble of doing that, I’d appreciate the effort and the space given, and then hopefully I’d bounce back. Who knows? Cue the 2021 glut of letters, hey! “But you told me to write you a letter!”

In the season of goodwill, let me offer something uplifting about baby scans, to finish. For I have a few pregnant friends and mums-to-be (gluttons for punishment, clearly) reading this blog.

When we all go for early baby scans, I think we assume things are magnified by about a hundred times, well they’re not. If you’re seeing a head, legs, arms, feet on the screen, that’s because they’re actually there in real life, for the eye to see now. That’s something I never fully appreciated until I met Summer. At 19 weeks and 5 days, she was all there: little ribs, tiny toes, knobbly knees. She just needed more time to grow.

So if you are using an app which estimates the size of your baby’s hands or feet, just know that it’s actually pretty gosh-darn accurate. I compared Summer’s hands and feet to the Ovia Pregnancy app and –  even though I was looking at that app, religiously, every day – was stunned to discover that she matched up to the screen. So enjoy. It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it. These babies are not a figment of the imagination, they’re stunningly real.

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(3) Comments

  1. I’m with you on this. I didn’t even want to look at the screen either time with my miscarriages. I do the same with blood tests. That’s not a healthy comparison is it….

    1. Anjulie says:

      Safe space, pal. All thoughts / comparisons etc welcome xx

  2. Melanie says:

    I think this is completely understandable!! The words “I’m pregnant” are enough. Scans are not required to “make it more real” for the people you are announcing it to. I didn’t do a pregnancy announcement on social media, nor hardly anything about our pregnancy at all, for the same reason as your colleague not announcing her engagement. We had waited so long and all pregnancy announcements and posts were too painful. So I was mindful of that same feeling for others. To use a favourite term of psychologists, it was “triggering” for me. Baby scans are triggering for you. Nothing to explain about that xxx

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