One thing I was most nervous about getting pregnant again was going back to the ultrasound clinic at the hospital. The waiting room was the last place in our former “before” life. The dark room was where our world came crashing down. The thought of going back there frightened me, but I knew it would be worth it.
After finding out I was pregnant, I made two appointments right away. The first was with my MFM (high risk OB) and the second was an ultrasound (the first ultrasound since Ginny died). That first prenatal appointment was on December 4th. I was anxious for it, but mostly just eager to come up with a plan for this pregnancy. I figured this appointment would just be talking because it is too early to hear the baby’s heartbeat. I had some comfort in knowing that we couldn’t get bad news and my heart wouldn’t be broken in this appointment.
We arrived for the appointment. Daniel and I had a good discussion with the doctor, and we had a plan in place for the next 9 months. Then the doctor said, “Let’s do an ultrasound and see the baby today.” My heart leapt. I hadn’t mentally prepared for this. But maybe this is better. I didn’t have a chance to worry and work myself up for it. The nurse brought the ultrasound machine in the exam room, and the doctor stepped out while I went to the restroom. I came back into the room and immediately apologized to Daniel. He asked why I was apologizing. I said, “I left you alone in a room with an ultrasound machine.” He said, “Yeah, that was a bit harder than I thought it would be.”
The doctor and nurse returned. They attempted an over-the-belly ultrasound. I knew it was too early to see much that way. Then they switch to a transvaginal ultrasound. I didn’t care. I just wanted to see a heartbeat. We looked at the tiny blob on the screen. We saw a flicker! What a relief! There was a heartbeat!
As we were leaving, Daniel said, “I haven’t been this happy in a really long time. I was so happy to see the heartbeat.” That warmed my heart.
This took so much pressure off the ultrasound the next week. There is a heartbeat, at least for now.
As the ultrasound appointment drew near, I got more and more fearful. I know my true fear was another loss, but my mind wouldn’t let myself focus on that possibility. What I was so nervous about was …what if we get the same sonographer? I vaguely remember what she looks like. What if we get the same room? I think it was room 6 maybe. What if we get the same doctor? The one whose face I was looking at and voice I was hearing in the worst moment of my life. What if all this happens, and I have a panic attack or some sort of PTSD episode? I knew it was irrational. Even if we had the some sonographer, same room, and same doctor, the outcome is likely different. This is a new day and a new situation. I couldn’t help but be nervous.
I read techniques for calming panic. I learned how to breath right and what to focus on. I wrote scriptures on index cards and put them in my pocket. Just knowing they were there helped.
Daniel and I arrived to the clinic. The lady at the front desk said, “You’ve been here before, haven’t you?” Yes we had. Did she remember us?
We waited in the same waiting room. It felt different now. It was such a happy and hopeful place before. I thought of it as a place parents wait to see their babies, but now I know it is also a place parents wait to get terrible news. Daniel and I tried to distract each other. Finally my name was called. I looked up. The sonographer was not the one I vaguely remembered. In fact she was the one who did Ginny’s anatomy scan. That was a wonderful memory. She was friendly and brought us back to “Room 6”. I felt afraid, but when we walked in the room I realized I was mistaken. Room 6 is not the dreaded room.
As soon as we walked in, she asked, “Is this your first child?” That question. Of course that question. “No actually, our daughter died at 35 weeks in utero. This is our second child.” Tears immediately started flowing down my face. Daniel explained, “This is our first time back here.” She was immediately warm and empathetic. She said this is going to be good because we will get to see our baby. She took me to the bathroom. While I was in there, she asked Daniel more details of what happened. She asked what our daughter’s name is. I had pulled myself together, and the sonographer asked if I was ready. I said yes. She went straight for the transvaginal ultrasound. I couldn’t look at the screen at first. I needed confirmation of a heartbeat before I could bear it. I heard her say, “There’s the heartbeat!” I felt such relief. Baby is growing right on track. She printed us a few pictures and emailed me more.
As we left, I walked past the sonographer who couldn’t find Ginny’s heartbeat. I think she recognized me because she looked at me with such sadness in her eyes. I know that was a hard day for her. It had to be.
We left the clinic knowing our baby is alive and with a new memory of that place. I felt proud of myself. We did it! We faced our fear of that place. We took the rest of the day off to be together and celebrate.
My next appointments and ultrasounds would be scheduled at a different location. We realized that although the hospital is less than 5 minutes away from both of our jobs, it is worth the extra 15 minute drive to not have the anxiety of returning there. I feel more peace at the new location. Each appointment is a challenge on its own without bad memories on top of it. I’m grateful to have location options and still see the same MFM team.
At the 11 week ultrasound, they measured the nuchal translucency. All measurements were good. This was the first ultrasound where the baby actually starts looking like a baby, not just a little blob. I love seeing the little nose and hands.
We are now anticipating the big targeted anatomy ultrasound scheduled for March 5th. We are excited to see the baby wiggle, gain peace of mind, and get pictures. But we are anxious because this is where they will be checking how the baby has developed. After hearing so many baby loss stories, I now know what can happen at these appointments. I will probably have a pocket full of scriptures and hesitate to look at the screen. But no matter what the outcome, we will get through it. I’ve never felt braver.