The first day of work started promptly at 8am, and following a meeting with our advisor in Nicaragua, we start seeing patients (see Jon’s post). Afterward we planned our ultrasound curriculum for physicians and students, but the highlight of the day came when we returned to our hostel.
Vanessa works at the hostel and is about six months pregnant. She had never been ultrasounded and did know the gender of the baby. Before I arrived to Nicaragua, the plan was to try our best to perform a fetal ultrasound to see the baby.
We briefly reviewed basic fetal ultrasound techniques before starting. With our recently acquired equipment, we first explained our limited experience but our desire to provide our best effort for Vanessa.
The four of us worked as a team, each piecing together the various planes we visualized into a more complete image. Our first eureka moment came when we found a small, pulsating, four-chambered organ, which quickly became our reference point. Glimpses of other parts were also accompanied by the smiles and gasps of an excited mother watching the ultrasound screen.
That didn’t compare to our reactions when the correct sagittal plane was found to reveal a head sucking a thumb, legs crossed, at times kicking and kicking. We found him.. or her.
While the gender of the baby was not officially determined, for the patient, it was the first opportunity to see her child in a new way: feet moving, fingers curled and body rested and comfortable, ready to meet mom.