Wednesday, November 14, 2012

One year ago today: the ultrasound

One year ago today, I had an appointment for an ultrasound. An early-pregnancy ultrasound, to be exact. I was 7 weeks and 2 days pregnant, and something wasn't right. I didn't know what it was. I just knew that I'd spent hours on the phone with the triage nurses at my OB's office, waiting on hold and returning phone calls, explaining my symptoms over and over, hoping and praying for reassurance of some sort.
After the first few phone calls, I'd been scheduled for more bloodwork. As luck would have it, I'd been at the doctor for something else a few days after taking a home pregnancy test. They'd done a blood test to confirm, and called me to say I was "definitely" pregnant. The same blood test was repeated three times over a two-week period, and every time the nurse called to tell me the same thing - "You're definitely still pregnant." (For those who don't know, pregnancy tests measure the level of a hormone called HCG, which is found in increasing levels in a pregnant woman's body. If the levels decrease or don't increase as expected, it can indicate a problem.) Since mine came back higher every time, it indicated that my baby was still developing and my body was still supporting it, despite continued spotting and pain.
Even though this was what I wanted to hear, the nurse was still concerned. After the third blood test, she said that she would schedule me for an early ultrasound and we would figure out what was going on. They didn't want to see me until I was more than 6 weeks along according to their dates (which didn't quite line up with my dates), and so I was scheduled for the following Monday morning.
Trying to understand what might be going on, I did some reading about early hormone levels. According to the chart in "What to Expect When You're Expecting", mine were through the roof. Literally. My HCG had gone from around 600 the first test to 7,000 the second test to over 100,000 by the third. The book listed the upper levels of normal for 6-7 weeks as being 7,000. The only reasons the book gave for very levels? Miscalculated dates or a multiple pregnancy.
Twins! I had only remotely considered the possibility. After all, we don't have any twins in my family (although Dan does in his), I'm not overweight, and we are fairly young. We also hadn't used fertility treatments. I halfway dismissed the idea, thinking something else must be going on.
The ultrasound was on a Monday morning. By my calculations, I was 7 weeks and 2 days pregnant. We checked in at the front desk and sat down to wait for the technician. It was early in the day, so it wasn't too long before we heard our names called and we headed back. I could feel my heart pounding as we walked down the hallway and turned into one of the ultrasound rooms. All the anticipation and anxiety of the past week caught up with me, and I found myself praying numbly as I undressed from the waist down. I emerged from the bathroom, trembling from head to toe, and laid down on the table as directed. The technician adjusted a TV screen so I could see it and had Dan sit on a chair near me. She slid my shirt partway up, slathered some gel on my abdomen, and placed her wand on my belly. Heartbeat, heartbeat, heartbeat, I prayed, squeezing Dan's hand, knowing he was praying the same words.
Almost immediately, two dark holes appeared on the screen, surrounded by a lighter gray. I didn't have long to wonder what they were or where she was looking. The technician zoomed in on the image, revealing two tiny, light gray, rapidly-pulsing gummy bears, each in its own dark, cavernous space. "There's one baby!" she announced cheerfully. "And there's the other baby!"
TWINS! As she focused in on the tiny gummy bears and their even tinier heartbeats, I felt an overwhelming surge of gratitude. I couldn't stop smiling and squeezing Dan's hand. He looked as elated as I felt. As the technician continued the scan, measuring each tiny body and calculating their heart rates, she said she'd never seen such an excited couple. I couldn't imagine any feeling but excitement: that is; excitement mixed with gratitude and relief at seeing our little babies, growing and developing just as they should. We left the scan with a little strip of pictures of "baby A" and "baby B", bursting with pride for our growing family.
Thinking back on this day, I can't believe how far we've come! We've known we were a family of four for a whole year now, and have gotten to enjoy our beautiful little girls for almost 5 months. The past year has been more miraculous than I could have ever imagined, and we have been truly blessed in so many ways.

Emily and Erin; Nov. 14, 2011

Erin (top) and Emily (bottom), Nov. 14, 2012

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