Friday, May 25, 2012

my pregnancy with ember: the first ultrasound.

I cannot believe it is the 25th already.
In my perfect world I blog on a regular schedule, have time for my creative pursuits, and have freshly washed hair at least every other morning.
(a shower.. in the morning? during a week day? what?)

But I'm going to keep on keeping on. Because this is about telling the story, not about being on time.
Last Thursday was the big day. My darling girl is a year old.
And really... it's not about the length of time, we could mark time in all kinds of ways. It's just about celebrating the day my girl was born. I love celebrating an individual, just celebrating the fact that they are alive!

Anyways.. back to to the subject at hand.

My first ultrasound was at about six weeks.
I decided, after getting that positive pregnancy test, that I would immediately call the clinic I went to after the miscarriage. The nurse midwife that I saw there was so kind and caring. I knew that I was wanting to look into home birth or a birthing center, but I just thought that could all come later, for now, I felt comfortable enough going back to this place.

When I called them to make an appointment, they asked when my last period was to get a good idea about how far along I was. Standard stuff. I explained my situation, and my last menstrual date and they decided that they would want to see me at about six weeks along, which they assumed was about two weeks out. I was a bit disappointed after the phone call, that I would still have to wait another two weeks to see anyone. I don't know why though. With my first pregnancy, I was perfectly happy just relaxing and I had all the time in the world to seek out prenatal care. This time, I'm not sure what I wanted. I guess I just wanted for it all to feel as real as possible.

I had my aunt go with me to my first visit. I was too nervous to go alone.

About an hour or so before my aunt was due to pick me up, I called my grandmother. I called her, and as soon as she answered my call, I burst into tears.
I was scared out of my mind. Sick to my stomach. Completely and totally afraid of many things.
What if the baby had died?
What is there was something wrong with my body after the miscarriage?
What if I wasn't actually pregnant at all?

So I cried to her. I cried and confessed all my thoughts. And she cried with me.
I felt better just getting it all out and letting the air blow it all away. I still felt nothing but butterflies when my aunt arrived and we headed to the clinic.

In the waiting room, I filled out paperwork. My aunt and I talked about baby related things. I felt as though someone could prick me with a pin. Then I would just pop.

The visit was great. The midwife was still kind and caring. My blood was drawn. I was weighed. There was talk of prenatal vitamins and nutrition. The actual visit was short and if I'm being honest, a little too medical for my tastes. While having my blood drawn I was asked by a nurse if I would be able to leave from there when I was done and go get an ultrasound.
I was a little taken aback by this.

Now I should say, I'm not crazy about ultrasounds. While it is so terribly fun to be able to get that glimpse of a baby before they are earth side, I definitely believe in using them cautiously and not abusing them. Ember only had two during my pregnancy with her. And the only reason I wanted to do this first one was because my whole heart was just begging me to. I just needed to know.

I should also add, it's pretty normal for most places to suggest an early ultrasound for a pregnancy after miscarriage. Just to check on everything.

The only ultrasound I'd ever had before this day, was at the ER during my miscarriage diagnosis. And saying that it was an uncaring and unkind experience from HELL is a nice way of putting it. The saddest part about that ultrasound, was at that point I was still very sure that nothing was wrong. I hadn't yet been told anything and I was sure that all that was occurring was the normal light bleeding that can sometimes happen. In fact, when I was laying on that table, completely uncomfortable and cold, I was so, so, excited about getting the ultrasound and seeing my baby on the screen. I had in my head all these images of the ultrasounds you see on TV. I was about 11 weeks along at that point and I kept wondering how big the baby would look on the screen. Once the ultrasound started, I started talking to the baby in my mind. Asking if they were a girl or maybe a boy? Telling them that I loved them so much and how exciting this was. The ultrasound was very uncomfortable, at times even painful and I kept reassuring the baby (please keep in mind I had no idea I was pregnant with twins, as this was before I was told) that everything was ok and we were just checking to make sure everything was perfect.
When I think back on it, I feel so so so so stupid about it. Talking to a baby that was no longer even there in spirit. Talking to one baby, when there were two. How sad it all was, that I was so excited. Just laying there,   saying sweet things to a lost child.
I wasn't shown the screen. I wasn't told anything. I never heard a heartbeat of course. None of my questions were answered and the room was so sadly quiet. While the technician saw it all, and knew it all, there I was telling my baby how much I loved them. On the one hand, I sort of? understand why they do things this way. On the other I think it's one of the most cruel things someone could ever go through.

But back to Ember's first ultrasound.
My aunt and I left the clinic and drove over to the giant building where they would perform the ultrasound. I was told to drink a ton of water and not to pee. Oh geeze was that uncomfortable. But thank goodness for it, because it gave my aunt and I something to laugh about even though I think both our stomachs were in complete knots.

When I was finally called back into the room, I thought about running into the bathroom on the way back. Not to pee, but to throw up. Here we were again. This would tell me everything. I was shaking like a leaf.
Again, thank goodness for my aching bladder, as it gave us all something to laugh about and allowed me to pretend like everything was fine and fun.

It went very fast. I couldn't believe how quickly everything was up on the screen. How kind and talkative the technician was. She immediately started describing everything to me. Not the baby at first, but my uterus, it's size, this part, that part, etc.

And then, she brought up Ember. There she was. A baby. A real, live baby. Right inside of me. Looking perfect and healthy. My aunt was literally clapping her hands. I was in shock. I immediately wished I hadn't downplayed this first appointment to Neil. I told him he wouldn't be missing much and to go ahead and go to work. I knew he how much he would hate to have missed this.

Then, oh my gosh, then, she asked if I would like to hear the heartbeat. I actually asked her to repeat herself. I could not believe it. She turned up the volume and this loud, beautiful thumping sound filled up the room. I think at this point my aunt was actually jumping up and down. I just lay there and felt the difference that only a few months can make. I felt a huge surge of relief and sadness and excitement and fear and peace. I completely drowned in that sound. I was sad when it was all over.

The technician printed out a photo for me when we were finished.

ember 6 weeks sept 27th 2010 edit

These photos... I mean, what is that exactly? That, right there, is a photograph only the parent's of that child could love. I proudly placed it on our fridge for months.

There she was. Alive.

Neil was so tickled when he saw that photo and found out we heard the heartbeat. I felt so bad that he wasn't there, but he was just happy it was all good news.

My aunt, ah, I remember this so well. She just had to tell everyone (once they knew) about the sound of the baby's heartbeat. She would tell people about it and start going "boom, boom, boom, boom, boom" trying to give them an idea of the sound. It was downright adorable.

We still kept my pregnancy quiet for many more weeks. And I still would get surges of worry all the time. I held on to that beautiful day so much sometimes. It was easy to still feel unsure and afraid of what could happen.

But the light this ultrasound provided for me kept shining, even when on some days it was so hard to see. This was still so very early on, things just felt so uneven.

Getting through the 1st trimester couldn't happen soon enough.


  1. Why must you write like this and make me bawl my eyes out every time?!! Keep doing it...keep writing like this. I love it. ;) <3

  2. I love reading your blog posts. You write so well!