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Week 11

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 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!).

There are now two tests offered during the first trimester — the nuchal fold scan (or nuchal translucency screening) and chorionic villus sampling (CVS) — that check for Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. CVS is usually suggested for women over 35, while the nuchal fold scan is a newer test that can be performed on women of any age, but isn’t quite considered “routine” yet, although it’s definitely growing in popularity.

Why? Well, it’s simple, non-invasive and painless. And squeeeee it’s an ultrasound! Pregnant women love them some ultrasounds. And unlike CVS, which carries a slight miscarriage risk (1-2%), the nuchal scan carries none. It’s simply the measurement of 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) can actually give you a decent heads up on potential problems.

Of course, they’ve yet to invent a test that is both “non-invasive” and “totally accurate,” so the nuchal scan is NOT a diagnostic tool. But it IS a nice option for anyone on the fence about testing. If the results are suspect, you can move on to CVS, but if everything looks great, you can breathe a nice sigh of relief and skip the rest. The nuchal scan is done between 11 and 14 weeks. (Although the brochure I received from my doctor says 13 weeks, 6 days is the latest it can be performed.)

Chorionic villus sampling examines fetal cells collected from the placenta — specifically, from these tiny fingerlike spidery things called chorionic villi. Your doctor will use a thin catheter through your cervix or a needle through your abdomen to collect the cells, depending on the position of your placenta. I’m pretty sure it hurts a bit. It’s generally done between 10 and 12 weeks, and is considered more than 99% accurate.

Again, these tests are completely optional. I admit I’m mostly going for the nuchal scan because 1) I like ultrasounds, 2) my insurance pays for it, and 3) I suppose, 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

Amy Corbett Storch


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 ...

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 [email protected].

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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About the Author

Our Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty, was written by Amy Corbett Storch while she was pregnant with her second son, Ezra.

Amy, also known as Amalah, writes the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back here at Alpha Mom. You can follow her daily mothering adventures at her own site, Amalah.

About the Illustrations

The Zero to Forty illustrations were created by the artist Brenda Ponnay, aka Secret Agent Josephine. Brenda is very talented and these images are copyright-protected. You should hire her if you want your own unique ones.

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  • Wallydraigle

    April 2, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    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.

  • Tricia Theis Rogalski

    April 2, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    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

      October 6, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      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.)

  • Adele

    April 3, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    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)

  • thatgirlkelly

    April 4, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    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

      April 11, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      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

        April 18, 2014 at 5:02 pm

        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

          July 8, 2015 at 11:55 pm

          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

        August 5, 2014 at 2:04 am

        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

        October 6, 2014 at 12:23 pm

        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

          June 24, 2015 at 11:13 am

          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.

  • AmyG

    April 8, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    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!

  • MissAndera

    June 27, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    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!!!

  • april

    October 11, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    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.

  • jenn

    January 13, 2009 at 10:44 am

    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..

  • Sarah

    June 29, 2009 at 9:24 am

    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!!

  • Elke

    October 30, 2009 at 10:49 am

    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 🙂

  • Amy23

    November 30, 2009 at 8:18 am

    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.

  • Erin

    August 19, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    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.”

  • CJ85

    September 12, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    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 🙂

  • Kim

    September 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    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. 

  • NC10

    September 30, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    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. 

  • Krys

    June 19, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    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 😀 

  • Monika

    July 29, 2014 at 10:48 am

    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 😉

  • Erin E.

    May 11, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    My friend had her fifth when she was 35 and ended up getting the first, non-invasive testing done. This testing showed a positive for Downs syndrome. From there, they opted out of any invasive testing, but each ultrasound confirmed a positive Downs diagnosis based on his kidneys, which were not developing properly, and fluid in the neck fold. They had a team of doctors and nurses on delivery day to take care of their “severely disabled baby” upon his arrival. He was born 100% healthy. He did have some kidney problems initially, but a couple days in the hospital got them fully functioning and now he is a 3 1/2 year old, happy, very healthy little boy. 
    My husband was also supposed to be born severely retarded, because his head was measuring so big in ultrasounds. They urged his parents to terminate the pregnancy and they didn’t. And he was born healthy. He just had a huge head.
    With stories like these, I could never terminate a pregnancy no matter the severity of the prognosis. I feel as if nothing can be 100% confirmed until that baby is born. I would always be faced with “what-if’s.”