In February of 2016, Kyle and I went to what we hoped would be our last ultrasound at an IVF facility. I was about 8 weeks along with our first pregnancy from an IVF cycle, and we expected to see a bouncy little bean growing healthily and to be dismissed from the IVF facility and picked up by our usual OB/GYN. Sure, some people struggled through years of IVF to get pregnant, but not us. We’d gotten pregnant right away and would have a beautiful baby in October of 2016. October 17 was the due date.
That… didn’t happen.
(you start to ask yourself this a lot when you’re dealing with infertility)
Instead of an 8-week-old fetus, we saw something measuring about 6 weeks, if that, shaped like a flying saucer and not bouncing at all. We saw a heartbeat, but it was slow and weak, 65 bpm, very appropriate for a healthy adult, not at all for an 8-week-old fetus.
We had the cool ultrasound tech, the one we’ve had for nearly every ultrasound since then that’s brought us either good or bad news. She’s got a great sense of humor and was trying to keep us optimistic. “I’ve seen it go either way!” she said, but the doctor we spoke to afterwards was less than pleased.
“It rarely ends well when this is the case, but we’ll want you back next week to make sure. If the baby grows between now and then, we’ll take it as a good sign and just adjust your due date accordingly. If it doesn’t…”
So one week later, we came back, not expecting anything good, and sure enough, we got nothing good. The gestational sac was still there, but the weird little flying saucer fetus was gone. No heartbeat, no movement, nothing at all. We talked to the doctor again, who offered that I could wait it out, take a medication, or have a D&C. I chose the latter, not wanting to go through the pain of labor just to give birth to essentially nothing, not even remnants of fetal tissue.
In February of 2017, our first ultrasound for another pregnancy got bumped up a week because I’d started bleeding. A lot. I sat down on the toilet and it was like a murder scene. A clot the size of a lemon came out of me after I laid down and tried to slow things a little bit. The doctor wanted to see if there was anything left, if the bleeding had been the result of a subchorionic hemorrhage (a condition in which blood gets between the gestational sac and uterine wall and causes Problems).
I wasn’t surprised when nothing showed up on the screen. A clot the size of a lemon isn’t something that usually comes along with a healthy pregnancy.
Understandably, I’m a little nervous about these first ultrasounds. They’ve brought nothing but bad news so far, slow heartbeats, missing fetuses, nothing there. This morning, I’ve been shaky and tense since I woke up. I could barely eat breakfast, and only partly because of morning sickness. I couldn’t pay attention at work, and ended up pausing a lot of my tasks to just sit and breathe and try to calm down.
I got to the ultrasound place pretty early, but Kyle was running pretty late (like 15 minutes or so). Nothing distracted me or helped. None of the magazines in the waiting room held any appeal, Facebook and Tumblr seemed to just make me more tense, and I couldn’t even think of anything but “what if this is another miscarriage or failure? What if something’s wrong?”
Kyle finally arrived and we went back into a small room with dim lights. I changed and lay down on the warmed table, resting a hand behind my head and trying to stop shaking. I counted the tiles on the ceiling. The ultrasound tech–our favorite tech again–squirted warm jelly on the probe and told me, “alright, here we go.”
I saw it immediately, what I thought was a gestational sac. The trouble was, it didn’t have anything in it–no yolk sac, no fetus, nothing. That… wasn’t a good sign. At this point, we should’ve seen at least a yolk sac, maybe something more, but we saw nothing, just a dark circle surrounded by the grey of uterine tissue.
“Well, it’s something,” the tech said. “Let’s keep going.” She moved the probe around a bit, and suddenly, I gasped. There, right there on the screen, was a definite gestational sac with everything in place–the yolk sac, which provides nutrients for the baby until the placenta is fully developed, and the fetal pole, the beginnings of the baby itself. And flickering right there, in the middle of the fetal pole, was a heartbeat. Constant. Steady. And faster than we’d seen since Sam.
“98 beats per minute, which is excellent at this stage!” the tech announced. Faster than it had ever been with our first miscarriage last year. Steady. Strong.
We looked around a little more–I have some free fluid in my lower abdomen, likely thanks to my still-swollen ovaries, which are both still enormous (61 mm and 71 mm, respectively–that’s a peach and a pear in fruit sizes). The “gestational sac” we saw earlier looks like it’s actually a uterine cyst, which isn’t a bad thing but will have to be monitored as this pregnancy progresses. They want me back in a week to measure everything–to make sure the actual baby is growing and to make sure that the cyst is not (if it is, that might indicate that it’s an ectopic pregnancy, which presents its own set of Very Big problems).
But so far, it looks like finally, FINALLY, things are starting to go right, and I’ll finally have a baby legume come late April, 2018.
(the legume in question, measuring exactly six weeks, one day)