I mentioned in my announcement post that this pregnancy has been similar, though not identical, to my first one — and I say that mostly because in some ways, it got off to rather a rockier start than the first time around. But to back up and start from the beginning:
We decided to “start trying” in December, and were a little surprised by how quickly it happened. By the second week of January, we had a positive pregnancy test, although there was some uncertainty in getting to that point. The first test I took, about a week after a missed period, was one of the basic ones that displays one line if negative and two lines if positive… and while it looked negative at a glance, it seemed like there was a very, very faint second line if you looked closely.
Joe and I spent a few minutes staring at it before finally deciding to call it inconclusive. Then we decided to shell out the few extra bucks for one of those fancy-pants digital tests that tells you your result in plain English, and two days later we had a much clearer result:
That little blip on the radar was forgotten pretty quickly, and I made my first prenatal doctor’s appointment, scheduled for when I should have been a little over six weeks along.
Having been through this before, I had a pretty clear idea in mind of what to expect, and I went into the doctor’s office thinking it would be pretty much the same as my first prenatal appointment with Lillian, when I got to see her tiny bean-like form on the ultrasound and hear her little heartbeat for the first time. That was such a wonderful and emotional moment, but… I didn’t realize until this pregnancy how much I’d taken it for granted.
At my first prenatal appointment for this pregnancy, the first ultrasound showed no baby and no heartbeat. Just a small, empty bubble:
The doctor was quick to explain that this could mean the pregnancy was just in an earlier stage than we’d thought. But it could also be a sign of problems with the embryo not growing right or a “blighted ovum” — more info on Wikipedia here. They took a blood sample at that appointment, and scheduled another blood sample for two days later — the idea was to measure the hCG (aka pregnancy hormone) levels and how they were changing in that span of time.
The next eight days were a weird kind of limbo. Sort of like Schrödinger’s cat being alive and dead at the same time, I felt like I was pregnant and not pregnant at the same time: On the one hand I was taking prenatal vitamins, and avoiding alcohol and caffeine and excessive tuna fish, and generally doing all the things a dutiful pregnant woman should supposedly do… But on the other hand I wasn’t allowing myself to think as though I was pregnant in the sense that there would ever be a baby, in case the worst happened and it wasn’t meant to be.
When I finally got the results back from the doctor’s office, I learned that my hCG levels had increased from 6200 to 9600 in the span of those two days, which they seemed to consider a good sign — but no one could say anything for sure until the ultrasound the next day. I spent a few solid hours online that night, reading up as much as I could on hCG levels, reading stories from people on forums who had experienced early miscarriages, and generally torturing myself over what the outcome would be.
The next day, the suspense was over:
There on the screen was that tiny bean-like form, and that little heartbeat. I cried with relief when the ultrasound technician added the label “baby.”
Based on the measurements, the doctor estimated the due date as September 19 — we’d been thinking it was September 11 before (which would make a heck of a birthday, right?) and baby has been growing as expected ever since. By all accounts, it appears to have just been a case of a slightly irregular cycle and mistaking certain relevant dates (which I guess would also explain why that first pregnancy test was “inconclusive”).
One side effect of all this, though, is being left with a slight lingering feeling of unease over the possibility of miscarriage in a way that I didn’t really feel during my first pregnancy, and which I still feel to a certain extent right now (even though the risks supposedly go way down after the first trimester and we should be “out of the woods” so to speak). And while I have no illusions that our happy ending in any way compares to what some people go through, I feel like I have a whole new level of respect for couples who’ve suffered miscarriage or otherwise experienced fertility-related issues.
So anyway, that’s the long-winded tale of the beginnings of this pregnancy. Next on the agenda for this blog: more details on what we’re planning to do to this house to make room for baby number two. Stay tuned!