This week was a big week.
On Tuesday, I graduated from my RE’s clinic — oh, happy day! My favourite nurse, T, performed the ultrasound, and I was so glad it was her instead of Nurse Hatchet. As we watched the screen, I saw a tiny leg kick. It’s moving! I cried out. DH didn’t believe me, but T confirmed yes, baby’s moving. And I just so happened to have been filming the monitor, so I have a recording of the heartbeat and the little kick! It’s so wild to me that someone so tiny is already spontaneously moving around. (It’s not like there’s a current in the amniotic fluid!)
We left the clinic, clutching a final grainy ultrasound of our tiny one, measuring 20mm. I’ll return in a week or so to pick up copies of our medical records and my graduation gift — whatever that will be…
Yesterday (Wednesday) was my birthday. Recently, my jeans have become quite snug. I have the beginnings of a bump, denoted by the soft grooves that run like laughter lines from the inside of my hip bones to my pubic area. That part of my abdomen is ever so slightly rounded, which makes the little bit of belly fat either side of my navel stick out. I am delighted by the changes in my body! My first birthday gift was two pairs of comfy pants from DH. Long enough (being 6’1″, finding trousers long enough can be a real problem) and wide-legged, with room for belly growth. Not maternity clothes! DH stressed. Just comfortable bottoms you can wear around the house. He is so thoughtful!
Wednesday was also my first prenatal appointment, which, on nurse T’s advice, I’d booked after my first ultrasound. (I got home that day and willed myself to pick up the phone and dial. I put it out of my mind for a few hours. When I finally called, right before close of business, and was offered an appointment on April 9th, I took it. I figured the chances of something going wrong in the 24 hours between my final RE ultrasound and my first prenatal visit were slim.)
When I woke up, I had the worst morning sickness yet. So far, I have found the nausea manageable — DH is sympathetic, but says he’s glad because it means things are going well; and I grin and tell people who are aware of why I feel lousy that I’ve never been so glad to feel like shit for so long. Usually, I eat a couple of Ritz crackers, have a glass of juice or goat milk yoghurt with my vitamins, and a few hours later I eat a bowl of salted edamame. That usually sets me up for the day, until I have a bit of nausea again after dinner. But, omifuckingod, yesterday’s morning sickness wiped the usually self-satisfied smile off my face. I couldn’t get out of bed because along with the most intense nausea I have experienced in my life, I had a splitting headache. I was desperate not to vomit, knowing that would only worsen my headache. It was a battle, but I won… sort of. I practically crawled to the shower. As it was heating up, I lay on the floor in child’s pose, my dog sniffing my head in concern. It was ghastly, but luckily I’d bought some lovely ginger ale sweetened with agave syrup the night before. I sipped one all the way from home to the exam room. I felt a bit better by the time we were almost at UCSD.
My second gift of the day came in the form of That Waiting Room. The one which, filled with beatific bellies, has caused me to have near panic attacks. The one which has hitherto always preceded More Bad News. But on my birthday it was empty, save for one flat-bellied woman there for her annual exam, and a woman with a young baby — thankfully, babies are not triggers for me. And this one I realised wasn’t much younger than my Bean would have been, but the idea that this woman and I were pregnant at the same time didn’t upset me. I gain so much comfort from knowing I have my own tiny inside baby, thriving so far.
But what I most wanted for my birthday was to hear, not just see, the heartbeat…
The nurse practitioner, K, was a very sweet and bubbly woman with a southern twang. She’d seen I’d had a miscarriage so asked if we wanted to start with the ultrasound? Yes! DH and I chimed in unison, without even exchanging glances. I assumed it would be a transvaginal ultrasound, but no! I had my first abdominal ultrasound, like a proper, normal pregnant woman!! K squirted blue gel on my lower abdomen and it wasn’t cold like I thought it would be. I remembered at that moment to tell her that there are two gestational sacs, one empty. She acknowledged this and then smiled, There’s the heartbeat! K zoomed in to the heart area and suddenly we had two glorious seconds of kew-kew-kew-kew, my tiny one’s heart beating away at 190bpm — We would normally expect it to be between 125-180bpm, she explained, so this is slightly fast because Mom is a little nervous. Mom’s heart rate affects baby’s. (Note to self: chill out. Let’s get meditating. Do some exercise. Take it easy!) Anyway, BEST. BIRTHDAY. PRESENT. EVER. I am not one to get teary-eyed when I am moved — not even pregnant, not even on all these hormones — but, damn, I was teary-eyed. I may have even started bawling had K let us listen for more than two seconds. (I’m not sure why, but it seems that listening for longer at this gestational age isn’t without some sort of risk?)
And then we settled in to enjoy the view — the ultrasound machine at UCSD is far superior than the one at my RE’s, which I guess makes sense — a very clear view of a bean-shaped tiny person, with tiny mittens for arms and legs, kicking and waving and wriggling around. It was unmistakeable, and I was mesmerised. You could tell this is K’s favourite part of her job because she really lingered over the ultrasound. She kept sighing in her lovely southern accent, Oh, just look at thyat beautiful baby! and Oh, this is suhch a grayt baby! It was so nice to have someone so enthusiastic about our baby. She knew we conceived with the help of a donor, but this is OUR baby.
Baby was positioned nicely and measured a very accurate 23.5mm (about an inch), which was two days ahead (measuring 9w1d at 8w6d) to which K said It’s a tall baby. I laughed and pointed out that our donor is only 5’7″ and DH is only 5’8″, but if that pony-embryo-transplanted-into-horse theory sticks, that may well be possible.
After the ultrasound was the ordering of labs (I later gave about a dozen vials of blood!) and a Q&A. (Yes, lavender essential oil in a body lotion and honey are okay, but raspberry leaf herbal tea is not, unless it’s in a tea called Pregnancy Tea; and yes, I can resume gentle exercise, like Tai Chi.) K handed us a folder with lots of information in it — all the classes UCSD offers (childbirth, newborn care, infant CPR, breastfeeding) as well as UCSD’s equivalent to What to Expect When You’re Expecting which K recommended I not read as it’s filled with scary information (too late!).
And, finally, even though we did PGD on this baby, we will still go ahead and schedule the Nuchal Translucency scan for the first or second week of May. We know the baby doesn’t have Down syndrome, but there are other things this ultrasound can screen for. Plus, it will be wonderful to see him or her on a 52″ screen! There’s even a chance we’ll find out the gender…
K printed five pictures for us to take home. One showing a big beady white eye; one showing tiny arms, like a T-Rex; one showing the legs; one showing the heartbeat; and, finally, a strange one: I asked, Is that looking down at the top of the baby’s head? I was right. So, that little white T shape running across it, is that the skull bones? Right again! I joked that I have become quite good at reading ultrasounds!
These five ultrasounds have to last me a long time because I won’t see my OB, Dr. D, for FOUR WEEKS. Four weeks? How’m I s’posed to last a month when I am so used to being seen at least once a week? Man, talk about entering the real world!
Meanwhile, I am going to stock up on protein shakes because I’ve actually lost weight. Up until six weeks, I was eating non-stop and put on a few pounds. I’ve lost a few pounds on top of the weight I gained, and now my BMI is a little on the underweight side. Nurse K and my acupuncturist advised me to eat one more snack a day to put on some more weight. So, if any of you have any ideas for healthy and / or fatty snacks that I can make at home, let’s hear ’em!