I realise I took in a lot of details as we walked from the car to the clinic yesterday. The corner of the flowerbed, red mulched kicked away, where I once stopped to respectfully place a dead butterfly (another post-miscarriage fear conquered!) so it wouldn’t be trampled on the sidewalk. The fuzzy plumes of Purple Fountain Grass contrasting beautifully against the green of their lower stems — sometimes nature gets it so right. Trust that.
Twenty minutes later, I was being asked the same questions as last week: have I had any nausea / vomiting / cramps / spotting? And am I taking all my meds? And then it was time to undress from the waist down.
The nurse practitioner asked me how I was doing and, after having heard a heartbeat last week, was surprised to hear my response: nervous! I explained that ultrasound machines have become a source of terror for me, and that it will take more than a few happy scans to undo the fear.
But I am less terrified than I was or thought I would be.
I have learned that I have good instincts: I knew when I got pregnant with Bean and, even at only 5w6d gestation, knew there was something wrong on the day he died. After my miscarriage, I knew something was wrong, that I would have problems conceiving again. With this pregnancy, I knew two embryos had implanted, and knew only one would make it — as reinforced by a dream the eve of my first ultrasound in which I went to a doctor who confirmed one heartbeat.
So far, my instincts have not let me down. I remind myself of this in quiet moments of fear: Lauren, do you think something is wrong, or are you just scared? … I’m just scared. … So everything is probably fine. Enjoy this pregnancy each day you have it. Hard-won wisdom is sometimes the best kind.
The nurse practitioner went over the notes from last week. So, we had one heartbeat, and one possibly empty gestational sac. I instinctively knew we’d already lost Baby B, but I wanted confirmation of this. More importantly, I wanted to know that Baby A was still thriving.
And there she was (she, because I have felt this little one is a girl from the second I laid eyes on her last week; and I don’t like ‘it’): already visibly bigger, even to DH and my untrained eyes. Up to 14mm from last week’s 6mm, the size of a blueberry, or my clipped index fingernail. And with a beating heart that was bigger and faster. Such relief!
Here is the head, pointed out the nurse. See this space? It’s empty now, but the brain will begin fill it this week. It’s a little airhead!
I watched the beating heart, transfixed, delighted by this tiny creature who has taken over my body. A quick look at the second gestational sac confirmed that Baby B didn’t make it. The nurse said the sac will be reabsorbed by my body over time.
DH and I are both disappointed that one didn’t make it. We knew having twins was a real possibility and would have been overjoyed with two babies at the same time. But with twins comes the real possibility of pre-term labour, time spent in the NICU, and all the other potential problems of a high-risk pregnancy. We are sorry to lose one, but also filled with relief that we have just one healthy embryo. We are philosophical, not sad.
Baby B, I will always be grateful to you. Without you, your sibling might not have made it this far. Thank you for cheering her on. And thank you for cheering me on too, because without you, my early pregnancy symptoms might not have been as strong as they were. Such immediate changes in my body gave me hope and courage. Your additional presence gave us a strong first and second beta — such reassurance! You got your dad and me through some nerve-wracking days, and your sibling through some major developmental milestones. Thank you, swee’pea.
Baby B’s fleeting presence ensured Baby A’s survival so far. I look at her little beating heart and am filled with a motherly pride. I am beginning to dare talk to this little one, willing her to keep growing, telling her she’s doing a beautiful job so far. Oh, the adventures we’ll have!
Today, I am eight weeks’ pregnant. Two-thirds of the way through the first trimester. Halfway between finding out I’m pregnant and the second trimester. Time is slow, and time is flying. Now that we have seen continued growth and a steady heartbeat, my risk of miscarriage has dropped from 13% to 5%. It all feels quite miraculous.
Miraculous — I just remembered this little one doesn’t share my genes! I still have residual sadness over my miscarriage and subsequent genetic diagnosis, but that is totally separate to how I feel about this little one. I am so grateful to Nellie, so happy to be pregnant. There is absolutely no difference in how I feel about this baby (who needs a nickname!) compared to my spontaneously conceived Bean. They, along with Baby B, are absolutely my tiny children.
Here’s a video of the one I hope to meet in November: