Yesterday we had our 20 week anatomy ultrasound for our precious rainbow baby. Ultrasounds can be a really fun experience, but also a devastating one. Unfortunately I've experienced both ends of the spectrum.
When I was pregnant with Mercedes I was given 3 ultrasounds. . . One at 8 weeks when they were unable to hear her heartbeat (she was far too small for that little heart to be heard but the doctors didn't believe me that I knew I wasn't as far along as they determined I was. Ultrasound proved I was right.) Sure enough, there she was- a teeny grey bean on the screen with a beating heart! AND she was wiggling around already. . . it was incredible.
Next ultrasound was at 20 weeks. She looked much less like a bean and much more like a baby! And had no problem giving us proof that she was a girl. It was wonderful getting a peak at our lovely little girl!
Then they had us return at 24 weeks to re-check her heart since she was so small and they weren't able to get as clear of pictures as they wanted. I was worried and scared out of my mind but her heart looked perfect AND we got another peek at little Mercedes!
With my pregnancy back in August 2012 there was a lot of confusion with how far along I was due to my recent cessation of birth control. I was scheduled for blood work and an ultrasound. I wasn't too worried though- the same thing had happened when I was pregnant with Mercedes. But I have to say when we went in for that first ultrasound, my heart sank as soon as the tech began looking. First of all, she couldn't see ANYTHING with the abdominal ultrasound. However after switching to a more invasive ultrasound, we could see a very clear gestational sac! But it was so tiny the embryo wasn't visible just yet. It was surmised that I was much earlier than suspected and I was scheduled to come back again in 2 weeks. I tried to shake off my worry by looking at similar early ultrasound pics and telling myself "It was just too early."
But when we went back in 2 weeks, the same thing happened. The tech couldn't see anything with the abdominal ultrasound. When she switched to the more invasive ultrasound, once again the little gestational sac was there. But it hadn't grown at all.
I know enough about ultrasounds and embryos and fetuses to know that they grow very rapidly in the beginning weeks of pregnancy. 2 weeks with no further growth? This was a bad sign. Sure enough my HCG levels in my bloodwork were barely crawling higher (the are supposed to double every 48-72 hours. . . mine took over a week to double). I did a lot of research and tried to convince myself that there was a chance that everything was OK. Sometimes ultrasounds are wrong. in 15% of normal pregnancies HCG doesn't rise or double the way it should... but any hope and any confidence I had was washed away when the bleeding started. Then I KNEW it was over. Even the Dr. I was seeing at the time wanted to check my HCG and "wait out the weekend" just to be sure, but I knew it was over. After making me suffer for 3 days, I was called and told that they were scheduling me for a surgical procedure. . . which I wouldn't have had a problem with, except I wanted to be seen by a doctor first and examined. I knew I would be trying to get pregnant again and wasn't sure what the best decision was. After being scolded I called the clinic I used to go to (before changing insurance) in tears and begged them to help me. I was immediately set up with a referral to a top OB/GYN at Roseville Sutter. She had a 3 month waiting list but my family doctor must have called in a favor because she squeezed me in the next day.
She was the sweetest calmest doctor. She answered all of my questions, examined me, and then performed one last ultrasound to see what was going on.
This time, the little black dot which had signified a growing fetus was nowhere to be found. My body had already "disposed" of everything- quickly and efficiently. I looked up at the picture of my empty womb and listened as the doctor said, "I think it's pretty clear that this pregnancy has ended in an early miscarriage." Even though I already knew what was happening to me, I will never forget that image or her words. It was the truth, but it was still tough to hear. Part of me somehow hoped there might be some miracle and maybe the baby was still there, but the picture on the screen said it all.
So the doctor agreed that at this point, there was no reason to do anything invasive. My body had already completed what it was supposed to do and the whole process would be completely over in the next few days. She encouraged us to wait a month or two and then to try again and assured me that there was no reason it would happen again and that my chances for having subsequent healthy pregnancies were high.
Little did I know that a mere 2 months later I would be back in that exact same room with the exact same doctor and this time we'd be looking at a fetus measuring 8 weeks, 3 days with a perfect little heart beating away. Who would have guessed I'd meet this wonderful doctor during something tragic but it makes me SOOOO happy that she wanted to take me on when I found out I was pregnant again. She helped me through a very difficult process and now gives me good news about my son as every appointment we've had so far.
But that wasn't the first sneak peak I got of our little guy. I had been into the ER 2 weeks earlier for some minor bleeding (obviously this scared the crap out of me, I cried so hard and truly believed I was about to suffer another miscarriage). Unfortunately it was on the weekend so the only place open and available to give me an ultrasound was the ER. I called the on call doctor (who happened to be MY doctor that weekend) and she was very understanding for my fear and told me to go ahead to the ER for an ultrasound to reassure me and make sure all was ok.
Getting an ultrasound in the ER is quite a different experience. The tech is not overly friendly/talkative (nor should they be when investigating a potentially negative emergency situation). There's no large screen so you can't really see what they're looking at. She quietly explained that she would examine me and send the results to the doctor who would review them with me and that she was unable to discuss the results with me. I was able to see a little bit of the screen when she started. . . I could see a little grey peanut and immediately recognized it as a teeny baby! I couldn't see much more than that, so I just laid back and waited patiently for her to finish. But my heart had skipped a beat! Something was definitely there! However that didn't mean she might not find signs of miscarriage and have bad news to reveal.
I got dressed while she went to another room to type up her report. When she returned to get me, she had a huge smile on her face and said she had sent the report. She then escorted me back to a waiting area and whispered "I'm smiling. It's good when I'm smiling."
I wasn't sure what she meant, after her explanation of not being able to talk to me about the ultrasound and that the Dr. would go over everything with me. But as we kept walking she whispered again. . . "I saw a heartbeat."
Tears immediately sprang into my eyes as I knew that this meant- there was a very healthy baby growing inside me. Once a heartbeat is detected, the risk for miscarriage drops to 5% or less.
The ER Dr. reviewed the results with me and said everything looked GREAT. I asked him about getting ultrasound pictures, but unfortunately the machines in the ER don't have printers. So instead he took me over to his desk, pulled up the pics on his computer and took pictures with his Iphone and sent them via text message to my phone. (This is why I LOVE Sutter! Their doctors and employees give the BEST service!).
Still even after that good news, 2 weeks later back at my doctors office when I laid on that same bed in the same room where I had once received such sad news I couldn't HELP but be afraid that something might be wrong. But there he was, looking more like a gummy bear this time than a peanut- sitting perfectly still with a little beating heart. Adam and I noticed he was perfectly content to chill out and wasn't squirming around like Mercedes had been already!
It would be an entire 3 months later before we'd get to see our little man again, and confirm that he was in fact a BOY!
I have to admit when I found out I was pregnant in August, I thought I wanted another girl. But after the way that pregnancy ended, I couldn't have wanted anything more than a HEALTHY baby, boy or girl. I truly had no partiality. Adam felt the same say. Funny though, no one believes you when you tell them "I don't mind either way!" Everyone things if you have a girl that you must want a boy or that Moms want girls and Dads want boys. . . well for some of us, a healthy baby is truly the only concern and neither gender is really desired!
That being said about a week before my 20 week ultrasound I suddenly became convinced I was carrying a boy. I had wondered considering how differently this baby moved compared to Mercedes. I also noticed some extra hair in places it shouldn't grow. . . could it be extra testosterone flowing through my body???
Then I observed that this baby gets MORE active when I'm hungry and LESS active after I've eaten. Usually babies become much more active after their mother has eaten, well not our little guy. It was then that I was like, "This is a MAN CHILD, he's only interested in moving around when he's hungry! And after he eats he just wants a nap!" (<-- I realize there's no scientific evidence to support this at all, but it was what convinced me that I MUST be carrying a boy).
I have to say this 20 week ultrasound was the BEST I have ever received. The tech was wonderful and had no problem allowing Adam and Mercedes to be in the room the entire time. She also let us look at him and determined his gender immediately before moving on to measure and take pictures of everything else.
He was head down (no surprise to me) so she had no problem getting a clear shot of his bottom. "So what gender do you think?" she had asked. Adam and I both answered "boy!" well as she adjusted the ultrasound wand, she pointed right between his little legs and said: "THAT. . . is his penis."
At this point I nearly burst into tears just because I was so happy to see my baby but at the same time I started laughing because I couldn't believe I was RIGHT! I was carrying a man child! And looking up at the screen it was VERY clear!
I just laid back and enjoyed the rest of the ultrasound. Soaked up every minute of seeing the details of my little boy. His face, his hands, his feet. . . It was fun watching him move and feeling it at the same time! He was pretty mellow and very cooperative, except when the tech tried to take pictures of his face- he actually kicked the ultrasound wand, it was pretty funny!
Afterwards we found out that he's measuring an entire week ahead and about 5 oz heavier than average for 20 weeks. My due date is accurate, so this means he's just big! Also, apparently due to the largeness of his head we'll need to return for another ultrasound in 6-8 weeks for another look. Hopefully this won't interfere with a successful delivery, I'll admit I'm a bit scared! Mercedes had a tiny head and THAT nearly killed me. We will see what happens!
What a treat it was to find out that we're having a boy and get his first baby pictures. I'm so thrilled that he's healthy and excited that I get to see him one more time before June!
It's hard sometimes when people ask "Is this your first?"
If it's any other person my answer is, "Nope, my second!"
But if it's a medical professional asking for the sake of records, I have to indicate that it's my 3rd official pregnancy. That always makes me a little sad because I'm reminded of my second pregnancy and how it ended.
But I cannot tell you how much joy and healing this little boy as brought me. From the shock of the first positive pregnancy test to finding out he was a boy- I have been in love with this child. I am so grateful to be able to carry him. Through the woes of pregnancy I am quickly reminded of how lucky I am to be able to carry a healthy child successfully. I am reminded of how much I wanted another baby and how VERY VERY happy I am to finally be having one! Little by little the happiness he has brought me has faded away the pain and sadness of my second pregnancy. I will always remember it, but I will also remember how much perspective and gratefulness it taught me. Now I have little Bradshaw and I just feel so full of joy and love every time I think of him! And I feel fortunate, INCREDIBLY fortunate to be able to have him.
I'm having a son :)
And I truly couldn't be happier!