Week 11



pregnancy calendar
Your Baby:

  • Is the size of a small lemon or large lime. With a twist! Yeah, we’re done with the bean and nut comparisons and have moved onto fruit. Next stop, small household appliances!
  • Is officially a fetus, and is downright human-baby looking with non-webbed fingers and toes, although s/he needs a lot more cooking and fattening up.
  • Is moving and kicking and dancing and even hiccuping, although you won’t be able to feel the acrobatics for a few more weeks (sometime between weeks 16 and 20).


  • Please, it’s just all more of the same. The pregnancy books are all yapping about how much better and less sick/exhausted/crabby we should be feeling by now, and I spent a very productive morning hurling several particularly annoying tomes at the wall.

Okay, this week’s entry will cover several things that I am in no way qualified to cover. But considering this is the Internet, I’d like to see anyone try and stop me.

We already sort-of covered some of the typical first-trimester tests, or at least the ones tied to your family’s genetic history. Now it’s time to start thinking about all the other ones. If you’re over 35, your doctor may be a little more pushy about genetic testing. Conversely, if you’re under 35, your doctor may just assume you’re not interested in them. No matter what your age, the tests are entirely optional, so it’s obviously best for everybody to educate their own little selves about the available tests and decide which ones (if any) they’d like to pursue.

With Noah, the only test I was offered (and likewise accepted) was the triple-screen or multiple marker test, which is a simple blood test performed between weeks 16 and 18 that screens for neural tube defects, Down syndrome (trisomy 21) and Trisomy 18. I’m not sure what we would have done if we’d gotten a positive result — usually further testing like an ultrasound and an amniocentesis is next. Our results were negative, however, and I was able to stick with my plan of only accepting the tests that offered absolutely no risk to the fetus (even though I knew these tests also had higher rates of false positives, bah!).

Today, though you have more options! Easier and more accurate options. Even more options than I had, back when I wrote the original version of this article.


For my second—and third!—pregnancy, I opted for the nuchal translucency ultrasound. It was considered a “newer” test at the time, and a big step up from many of the “old” procedures like chorionic villus sampling (CVS) that carried a risk of miscarriage (1-2%). It is still offered today, though getting rapidly lapped by the newer options I’ll touch on in a bit. You get an ultrasound at any point after you hit week 11 and before week 14. Your OB measures the clear space at the fold in the back of your baby’s neck. Babies with chromosomal abnormalities tend to have extra fluid in this area during the first trimester, so the ultrasound (sometimes combined with a finger-prick blood test for mama) could actually give you a decent head’s up on potential problems.

While the nuchal scan scored points for being safe and non-invasive, it definitely lost points in the accuracy department. False positives and negatives were very possible and quite common, so it was NOT considered an actual diagnostic tool. If something didn’t look right, you had to move on to the more invasive and risky CVS if you wanted an accurate (99%) answer.

Now there are new DNA-based blood tests available that check your baby’s chromosomes for trisomies 21, 18 and 13. You can get a simple blood draw done (as early as week 10) and generally get the results back in about a week. These tests (with brand names including Harmony, Panorama, Verifi, and several others) are a HUGE leap forward in the accuracy department: about 99.9% accurate for detection of an abnormality, and an incredibly low rate of false positives, at least compared to the “old” tests.

Again, these tests are completely optional, but most insurance companies will still cover them. (My nuchal scans were covered, and were resoundingly and accurately negative.)

Back when I originally wrote this, I included the following as a bit of “here’s my general line of thinking in regards to the optional tests:

If I am going to have a child with disabilities, I’d like to know as soon as possible so we can prepare ourselves for it. I tentatively believe I’m one of those “I’ll have this baby no matter what” people, but I also admit to being rather spoiled and blase about the whole thing, because I don’t have any reason to believe my child would even be disabled. I’m only 30, have no family history, my first kid turned out all right, etc. Ah, hubris.

(Trust me on this, though: about 10 minutes before my appointment I will fuh-REAK the eff out over the test and panicpanicpanic because THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH MAH BABY I KNOW IT.)

You might have some mitigating factors that make the whole genetic testing topic more of a minefield for you, and if that’s the case, it’s best to read as much information about the various tests as you can, and have several talks with your partner about your options and the potential outcomes. We (thankfully) have many, many choices available to us — and it’s funny how I actually value those choices even more after having a baby, because it honestly never occurred to me that those choices are extremely relevant to WANTED pregnancies as well.

Oh Yeah, THIS: I have zits all up in my hairline. I suppose that’s significantly better than getting them right on my nose, or something, but MAN, this is annoying.

New This Time Around: (whispers) The puking has stopped. Last time I puked straight through week 14, and still couldn’t really eat anything until week 16. I’m still not loving food and food smells, but oh, dear God, I think the puking has stopped.

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About the author

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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24 Responses to “Week 11”

  1. Wallydraigle Apr 02 at 2:45 pm Reply Reply

    I’m at week fourteen and still with the uncontrollable rage. This is wonderful, since I work in a restaurant. It’s only a matter of time before I throw hot coffee on an annoying customer (and by annoying, I mean someone who has the nerve to ask me for more coffee). It’s bewildering, all this anger. I have, so far, managed to hold it in, but there have been a few close calls; and a few times, I’ve gone to a more private place and just started throwing things. My poor husband doesn’t know what to do. When he came home from work last night, just the sound of his breathing made me cranky.

  2. Tricia Theis Rogalski Apr 02 at 3:08 pm Reply Reply

    Ah hubris, indeed. I was once the same way: only 30, no family history…I did not yet have a first kid, but whatever. That ultrasound was alluring. All I am saying is read up and be prepared everyone. I hope all is ok with your baby(ies) and chances are it will all go fine, but just know those numbers can surprise you. I am now the mother of an almost 16-month-old firecracker who happens to also have Down syndrome. You don’t know what you’ll do until you’re in the situation.
    They tried to pressure me into going forth with CVS or Amnio when our NT scan showed some abnormal findings. Since we were of the “keep the baby either way” mindset we opted not to do the invasive tests. But you may need to make a snap decision and you ought to think about what you want while you are rational just in case. If they tell you something like ‘1 in 8’ and use words like ‘mortality’ and ‘defect’ chances you’re going to be going, “holy heck, what do I do now!”
    A lot of info out there is outdated and the best way to know what you would is to spend some time cruising some current info.

    • Kat Mercury Oct 06 at 12:25 pm Reply Reply

      Seconding all of that. Do your research, Mamas. (See my post further down on my batshit, blinding, BFF love for my brother and his extra chromosomes.)

  3. Adele Apr 03 at 4:31 pm Reply Reply

    Am loving these updates. I’m a few weeks further on (wk 13) so I try and add a bit to the ‘baby is now the size of a lemon/small hamster/princess leia play figure’ in a very technical way. Like perhaps imagining a large lemon. Hmm what could 2 weeks add to a lemon? A twist of lime perhaps?
    (The illustrations are fabulous too)

  4. thatgirlkelly Apr 04 at 12:41 pm Reply Reply

    I’m 39 so we have opted to do the amnio at week 15. We are of the intellectual mindset that we would terminate if there were genetic issues. I’ve noticed that this opinion is not the most popular on many forums and often, I think not mentioned for fear of the ire it may cause. It’s an intensely difficult thing to contemplate, so heres to a lack of chromosomal deficiencies for all.

    • Megan Apr 11 at 12:28 pm Reply Reply

      Your comment cut me to the core…I’m not even pregnant anymore, just passed this calendar along to a friend who just happens to be at week 11 and saw the mention of genetic testing.

      My son is 4 months old and has Down syndrome. We learned at 20 weeks through a new, noninvasive blood test with 99.8% accuracy (it’s called Maternit21 and deserves mention in the post above…I’m assuming it wasn’t around when the original post was written. I’d be happy to answer any questions about it, as I’m SO glad we had this available for us).

      We decided not to terminate, but did consider it. Even so, your use of terms like “intellectual mindset” and “chromosomal deficiencies” is insensitive and inaccurate. Maybe you didn’t mean it that way, but that’s exactly how it comes across to mamas like myself. My son is not “deficient” (ironically, Ds is an extra 21st chromosome; nothing is missing) and we celebrate his Ds because it’s a part of who he is. Also, to imply that anyone who would continue a pregnancy in the face of this diagnosis lacks intellect is just cruel. Perhaps your past opinions on other forums were met with disdain because your language was insensitive and uninformed.

      • Rachel Apr 18 at 5:02 pm Reply Reply

        Amen. My daughter is 3 and has Down Syndrome as well. I didn’t find out the diagnosis until she was born, but even if I had found out sooner, it wouldn’t have matter. This pregnancy, I’m not doing any genetic testing because even if it were to happen again, it wouldn’t change anything. I would keep this baby. My daughter is the love of my life and I wouldn’t change her for anything. She is sweeter and more loving than most kids probably are. I think maybe you just need to change your mindset and realize that it could be a blessing in disguise.

        • Amanda Jul 08 at 11:55 pm Reply Reply

          Genetic testing isn’t just for potential disabilites. The nuchal fold measurement/AFP blood test and CVS both also test for Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 13, which are incompatible with life, and can be used to do more extensive genetic testing for people at higher risk. Some people choose to carry to term (or until the baby dies naturally) even if they get an incompatible-with-life diagnosis, but that poses a greater risk to the mother’s life and future fertility. I terminated a very much wanted, very loved baby at 29 weeks for a brain abnormality that was incompatible with life, diagnosed by ultrasound at 28 weeks. In any future pregnancies, I will have a CVS at 12 weeks to test for the specific mutation that would have killed my first daughter within days of her birth. I have a hard time imagining a change in mindset that would see a diagnosis incompatible with life as a “blessing in disguise.” 

      • Nicole Aug 05 at 2:04 am Reply Reply

        I would love to learn more about the Maternit21 test. I am in week 12 or 13 and I’m signed up for an ultrasound paired with a blood sample to test for Down Syndrome and perhaps more? One friend said she took the Maternit21 test and the results came back as “yes’ or “no” instead of “1 in 8 chance” – is this true? Would you recommend the test? I wonder if there is a way to connect with you outside of this forum?

      • Kat Mercury Oct 06 at 12:23 pm Reply Reply

        My baby brother is 10 (I’m 30). He has Down Syndrome and he is perfect. His parents elected not to even do any testing, because they didn’t care. They already knew what it was to love someone with DS and did not feel the need to even know in advance.

        I will probably “inherit” him some day, and it’s going to be difficult and challenging. Great. Bring it on. Can’t wait. He’s perfect and fantastic and hilarious and ornery and often cantakerous, and I have never loved anyone more (says the woman gestating her first child). He’s goofy and weird and we have a whole host of inside jokes. He’s my baby bear, and I doubt anyone but the parent/older sibling of a person with serious disabilities would ever understand.

        What people like the misguided poster to whom you replied do not know is that with Down Syndrome comes a lot of joy and a lot of love. My brother and his extra chromosome are perfect. Absolutely perfect. I don’t know what I’d do without him. I can’t even imagine.

        ‘thatgirlkelly’, perhaps that mindset is met with “ire” because some of us interpret “I would terminate for Down’s” to mean “People with Down’s aren’t worthy and should be discarded.” “Gee, baby, you weren’t what I was expecting, so I’ll just be rid of you.” Knowing that there are people who would rather have killed my brother (very pro-choice, here) than let him live? Yeah, I take it very personally. And before someone mentions “suffering,” let me just tell you my brother suffers from nothing.

        Thank you, Megan, for standing up and saying something. Good on you. :)

        • Julie Jun 24 at 11:13 am Reply Reply

          Its a very difficult and personal choice.  Thatgirlkelly never said all people with anueploidy should be terminated.  Thats something you read into her comment.  My husband and ii discussed it and should we be told our child has chromosomal abnormalities or spina bifida or any other very debilitating congenital defect we will terminate the pregnancy not because we couldnt love a disabled child or have some weird Nazi view point on perfect children but because we are neither prepared for nor want the responsibility of raising a child who will need us to care for it into our geriatric years and my family strongly supports me in this choice.  The fact that you would make a different choice is your prerogative.  I dont judge you for it.  I dont say you should make the same choice that i would make.  Its just a little bit rediculous to suggest that there is only one “right” choice in this matter.

  5. AmyG Apr 08 at 12:15 pm Reply Reply

    Amalah – did you recently write about cheese and the fear that it strikes in pregnant women everywhere? I was reading back, trying to reference the cheese section, but cannot find it (could be my pregnancy brain acting up). Can you help me out and direct me? I need to show my husband that I will not die when I want to consume some delicious cheesey goodness. Thank you!

  6. MissAndera Jun 27 at 2:18 pm Reply Reply

    I am still nauseous. I can’t eat chicken. Oh God, I can’t even TYPE the word without gagging! I am so cranky that my jaw literally aches from clenching it. Also? I am exhausted All. The. Time. Come ooooooon 2nd trimester!!!

  7. april Oct 11 at 6:18 pm Reply Reply

    i’m in my 3rd month.i’m pregnant with my 3rd child.i’m very cranky and tired.i have finally stopped puking all the time.i puked all through my other 2 pregnancys,so hopefully i’m done puking now.

  8. jenn Jan 13 at 10:44 am Reply Reply

    Im right at 11 a cranky b*tch..seriously..what is wrong with me! this is my 3rd baby… I cant stand chicken, or anything fried, and well, Im southern so this has been odd for sure! I cant get enough sleep, Like I could sleep in until noon if I could, but I am constantly awake at night, not to mention I am already peeing 3-4 times during the night, yipee, cant wait to feel my full bladder at 6 months! also, my skin, omg it goes from perfect, to two days later, good thing is, my hair and nails look great..

  9. Sarah Jun 29 at 9:24 am Reply Reply

    So glad the crankiness is normal. I thought “hormonal” would be crying at sad movies, etc – I didn’t realize how short my fuse would be!!

  10. Elke Oct 30 at 10:49 am Reply Reply

    I had CVS done and I can confirm it hurts like a b*tch…especially since it took them 3 tries to get it right. Although nothing compared to childbirth…I’m still complaining :)

  11. Amy23 Nov 30 at 8:18 am Reply Reply

    So I am one of those lucky girls that the symptoms are going away. I can now allow my husband to touch me without screaming “don’t come near me they hurt!”. He is happy. :) I can say after 3-4 weeks of not being able to keep anything down and constant nausea and vomiting that has subsided to an occasional morning event. Sigh of relief. Do not come near me with any kind of poultry. Especially chicken breast YUCK. But to all those that say you do not show until 16 weeks. I raise my fist at you and say YES YOU DO. I was/am smaller in the waist area and now my tummy is yelling hey everyone guess what is in here. My mother trying to be helpful said If I saw you walking down the road I wouldn’t think you are pregnant I would think you put on a little weight. That sis not help AT ALL! I swear I can feel the baby. Just a flit like butterflies in my tummy every once in a while. If it is not I still like to think it is the baby and not a gas bubble. To everyone still sick I feel your pain.

  12. Erin Aug 19 at 8:27 pm Reply Reply

    This made me laugh so hard, lol. I love your humor so much.

    “Okay, this week’s entry will cover several things that I am in no way qualified to cover. But considering this is the Internet, I’d like to see anyone try and stop me.”

  13. CJ85 Sep 12 at 6:40 pm Reply Reply

    Yaaayy!! I love lemons/limes! :) 
    I have heard horror stories, and I’m scared i’m one of those who will not completely get rid of the nausea and fatigue — might also have something to do with the fact that i’m trying to get through my surgery rotation. And I used to love spinach and everything healthy but now the only “vegetable” I can tolerate are potatoes and I consider cake as my protein/carb source. gaaahh!! I really hope the 2nd trimester is better :)

  14. Kim Sep 22 at 2:02 pm Reply Reply

    Tomorrow marks 11 weeks and I just spent a very productive morning hurling. Now I’m in bed and just wishing the nausea would pass. Also my regular clothes don’t fit in spite of the constant nausea. I hate your book. 

  15. NC10 Sep 30 at 6:10 pm Reply Reply

    Though I haven’t been puking, I have felt like s*** pretty much every day. I’m super exhausted no matter how much sleep I get. Not to mention I’m nauseous and the food aversions are driving me crazy. Speaking of crazy, I threw a flip flop in the direction of my rottweiler yesterday bc “he won’t leave me the f*** alone!!!” aka he wanted love and I was too tired to even pet him. Any sign of affection my husband shows me is addressed by me saying “don’t think ur gonna get lucky tonight”. Poor guy. Poor dog. 

  16. Krys Jun 19 at 12:55 pm Reply Reply

    I think the size of a lemon for 11 weeks is REALLY big lol, I think that might be wrong.. It’s supposed to be a lime or brussel sprout etc.. Lemon will be 14 weeks 😀 

  17. Monika Jul 29 at 10:48 am Reply Reply

    The Nuchal Scan is offered for all pregnancies in Denmark (covered by the insurrance) and have been for years, so they are very common here. And also, nothing to get insane over right away even if it’s a positive! Both my niece and nephew had a big fold, but were both fine when they did the second test (the biopsy of the amnio or whatever it is) – the kids were just fat 😉

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