I know too much. Even though the 20 week anatomy ultrasound went really well in Ginny’s pregnancy, I was scared for what we might learn this time around. There is so much that can go wrong. In fact, when things go right, it feels like a miracle. I know so many people whose anatomy scans were their “before and after” moment. That’s the moment that divides the “before” – when things were all good and the “after” – when they are faced with hardship. I hoped and prayed that this scan would not be our 2nd “before and after” moment (our 1st was when we found out Ginny had died).
I didn’t want to be scared or to have those thoughts. I wanted what we had with Ginny’s anatomy scan; I wanted to just enjoy seeing my little girl wiggle and see her sweet features for the first time. But I have to face the reality that that isn’t my story anymore. All the positive thinking in the world can’t make me unlearn what I now know, and it can’t magically erase trauma. I’ve lost my naivety. And that’s okay. It’s hard, but it’s okay.
I rescheduled the ultrasound from Wednesday afternoon to Monday morning. I wouldn’t be able to wait and wanted to get it over with as early in the week as possible. I was eager to see Addie again. I hadn’t had an ultrasound since week 9. I was excited to get pictures and watch Daniel see her move on screen. But mostly I wanted relief in knowing she was developing and growing. Daniel’s parents had been in the room with both Ginny and Chet’s anatomy scans. We wanted to make it 3 out of 3, so they planned their visit here to coincide with the appointment. Daniel’s dad stayed home with Chet while his mom came along to the ultrasound. Unfortunately when we arrived, we were informed she may not be able to come in. The sonographer wanted minimal distractions. This was a high risk ultrasound with very precise measurements and sometimes tricky angles. There were many pictures and measurements required in a limited time. We were reminded that this was not a scan for fun pictures. What was already anticipated to be a really tense appointment felt even more so.
Ultrasounds can be triggering since it was in an ultrasound that we were given the news that Ginny died. I knew I needed to let the sonographer know from the very beginning that we had a stillbirth so she may have more understanding if things get hard. It is extremely challenging to meet someone new, already be so anxious, be in the same cold, triggering environment you were in when you got the worst news, and speak out loud, “I should tell you that we had a stillborn daughter at 35 weeks.” All that while trying not to break down in tears and being in a very physically vulnerable position on an ultrasound bed with pants off and stomach bare. She told me she already knew of my stillbirth from my chart and then said some sympathetic words.
She proceeded to start taking measurements. Little by little we saw more and more of Addie’s body – her spine, her abdomen, her legs and arms, her head. We saw her little movements. It was a blessing to see her. But with each angle we saw, I was trying to analyze if everything looked healthy. I was trying to read the screen as well as the body language of the sonographer. I’m unqualified, but she knows what she’s seeing. She just can’t say – good or bad. She kept going back to the heart. In Chet’s anatomy scan I remember so clearly seeing 4 chambers of his heart. I remember feeling relieved because it looked so normal. Now with Addie, I was only seeing 3 chambers. The sonographer said she needed Addie to move positions so she could get a better angle. We tried poking her, turning to my side, even getting up and moving around. Addie wouldn’t cooperate. The sonographer gave us the okay to invite Daniel’s mom back as we tried a few more times. No luck. We would likely have to come back for another ultrasound. My mind was going through all the scenarios. Maybe if we are lucky and she lives, she will need heart surgery right away. Maybe she will eventually need a heart transplant. I just want her to live.
As we waited to meet with the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) doctor who would give us the results, Daniel and I spoke about how we really wished this was more fun. We forgot how nerve wracking the whole process was. We lamented how our minds go to the worst outcomes. I’m glad his mom was there for support.
The MFM came in and said everything she saw looked really good, but she didn’t have a good picture of the heart. She asked us to follow her into another ultrasound room so she could take a look herself. I laid back down, and she was able to see what she needed to. Everything looked great! Her heart looked good! I was relieved. I’m so grateful for our MFM; she has listened to my concerns and she took the time to do the ultrasound herself. I’m so glad I didn’t have to come back on another day and wait anxiously not knowing if Addie was healthy.
As relieved as I was that we got a good report, I am not as relieved as I feel I should be. As I mentioned before, Ginny’s anatomy scan also looked great. We are all too aware that things can go wrong in the 2nd half of pregnancy. I am still trusting God with our little girl no matter what. She is His, and His will be done. I really really hope to get to bring her home in September. Everything so far is looking good for that to happen, but I know I won’t feel safe until she’s in my arms. I can’t wait for that day!