My husband gripped my hand tightly as tears began to slip down my cheeks.
The scan operator explained that there seemed to be no sign of any nasal bone. Also, since this was a nuchal scan (a more detailed diagnostic scan than the usual NHS dating one), she could see there was a worrying amount of fluid in the folds of tissue behind the neck: a major indicator of chromosomal abnormalities.
But the past year has been an unsettling time for the one in three British women who have chosen to terminate a pregnancy.
Heated debate and controversy surrounded the recent parliamentary vote on whether to change the time at which an abortion can be carried out (in the end MPs voted to keep the current limit of 24 weeks).
I am not sure how long it was – possibly only a minute or so – before we realised that the medic operating the scanner was ominously quiet.
All of our ultrasound services comply with guideline recommendations and are maintained to the required standards. We are registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) who are the independent regulator of health and social care in England.
In the spring of 2003 I was expecting my first child.
The whole matter of making babies was lent urgency by the fact that my mother’s breast cancer had returned – so I was thrilled to tell her on her 66th birthday that I was ten weeks pregnant. A heartbeat was swiftly found and my husband and I stared at the pulsing little embryo on screen.
The fact that it was a swift decision for us did not remove one iota of the pain.
Ten days later, I returned to the hospital for an abortion.