Houston, we have a heartbeat!

Today has been a roller coaster of emotions for your mommy, my little monkey. Today I got to see you for the very first time. I don’t think I can clearly describe how tense and nervous I was moments before you showed up on the screen.  I had a vaginal ultrasound today and as I lay there on the exam table waiting for the doctor to come in and start, I tried to convince myself that I would be alright if I got bad news; that I would be the strong woman I know I can be and take the news gracefully; that if there were no heartbeat that it just wasn’t meant to be…again. Everything happens for a reason Em, and biology is biology; you’ve got to get it right. And if it’s not right well then we have to start over. It’s that simple. As much as I tried to calm myself and bring a peace to myself about whatever my immediate future held, my heart raced the second the doctor walked in and I got all sweaty and thought I might pass out from nerves. Why? Because I want you so badly. Because I already love you and I don’t want to let you go. I desperately want to make the best home for you for the next 9 months so you can grow and be the healthiest, happiest baby in the world. Because you deserve to be here. Your daddy and I want you more than we ever thought we could want anything.  The doctor gave me a hug (she’s really great, I can’t wait for you to meet her) and plainly said, “well, let’s see what we see.” I liked that. No false promises. Let’s just see what it is. I put my glasses on my face because I knew you’d be tiny and if there was a heartbeat to see, well I didn’t want to miss it. And truth be told, mommy’s eyesight isn’t what it used to be.  In any case, she started the ultrasound, she scanned looking for my uterus, then the gestational sac. Ooh, there’s the sac, I thought in my head. OMG it’s empty. OMG it’s empty. Where is my monkey??? OMG, calm down. It’s going to be okay. She keeps scanning the sac. It’s really empty. But what about all those great HCG numbers? How could this be? She keeps scanning and I see something….but barely.  She scans again. I saw it again. Okay there’s something there. She sees it too.  Silence. I know she’s looking for a heartbeat. I glance to her face to see if she’s giving away any clue in a subtle facial expression, maybe a small smile, something…anything.  Her face is blank. Worried. Concerned, I think. My head races again. Why? Why me? How can this be happening again? More silence. She’s still scanning. I close my eyes, take a deep breath and try to muster my strength. I’m going to need it today. I’m husbandless and friendless in that cold, dark room. I’m going to need to pick myself up today, I’m convincing myself. I can do this. You are strong Em. You can do this. Then the doctor says something…   “gobbly blah blah gobbly goo here’s the heartbeat blah blah gobbly gobbly goo.”  WHAT? Did you say heartbeat? “Yes,” she says again. “Here is the fetus and you see this tiny thing right here? This thing flickering? That’s the heartbeat.” OMG I see it!!! OMG OMG OMG!! There is my monkey and there is the heartbeat! I was all of a sudden elated. I wanted to cry, scream, jump, fly and everything in between! Then she spoke again, “However, the fetus looks pretty small and the heart rate is a lot slower than I would like to see right now. The fetus is also really close to your uterine wall and I just don’t like that.” And in that moment, I crashed again.  Of course, it was good news laced with the bad stuff. I really wanted to cry now. I swallowed the lump in my throat and asked her. Well, what is the heart rate. She smiled and said “Well, let’s calculate it. Here, is my wristwatch. Give me 10 seconds and I’ll count the beats.” I stared down that wristwatch like there was nothing else in the room. Longest 10 seconds ever. “Okay, 19 beats now multiply that by 6.” Mental math. Ugh. I hate mental math, especially when I’m stressed. Okay 9 x 6 is 54, carry the 5……….. 114. In my head I know that a healthy heart rate is between 120-165. She’s right. It’s slow.  “Are you sure you see a heartbeat doctor? I can’t really see it that well.” And she flips a switch that shows blood flow (I think??) on the ultrasound machine that lights up in a different color. Red. And there you were. The most beautiful red little pumps, your heart was making. Precious. I want to see them now again, to make sure it wasn’t a dream.  Yes, your little heart was beating. I’m so proud of you, so proud.  Okay, now to the measurements. “Are you sure you ovulated when you think you did?” “Uh, pretty sure…” “You are measuring only 6 weeks 2 days when you should be measuring about 7 weeks.” Another blow to my chest. Then all of a sudden something changed in the doctor’s demeanor. “Well, if you actually conceived a few days later, that means this baby’s heart JUST started pumping and this may totally fall within the normal range! That’s good news. I’m still just concerned about the positioning.” “Positioning? What do you mean?” “Well, you see here (and she pointed to you, monkey!) how close the fetus is to your uterine wall? Usually the fetus kind of floats in the sac. But it’s still really early…6w2d. I’m hoping in time the fetus will sort of pop out and be more free-floating in the sac. I’d like to see you again in 2 weeks for another ultrasound and hopefully by then the heart rate has increased and the fetus is happily floating.”

At this, I was happy. I desperately want to see you again. So I’ll take another ultrasound. I’m just bummed I have to wait another 2 weeks. But also, deep inside I’m crying and sad, something seems to be wrong. You might not be healthy. I’m not sure how I made it through the rest of the appointment and the appointment with the prenatal clerk to set up all my blood work and future appointments, but about 45 minutes later I was walking out to my car. Numb. Shocked. Sad. Numb. I had called your daddy to tell him the news and that we saw your heartbeat but the doctor was concerned. He tried to stay neutral for me on the phone. He didn’t want me to lose it. I could hear the disappointment in his voice though. I’ve known your daddy for far too long. He’s trying to be strong for me, I thought. We both want to cry. But as I walked out to my car my phone beeped. A text message from daddy: “All that matters is I love you very very much and whatever happens will happen and it will all be ok because I love you!” And with that, your mommy lost it and let the tears come streaming down my face.  You see how lucky we are to have a man like daddy in our lives?? He always knows the right thing to say. And with that, I got in the car and headed to the nearest computer. Determined. I needed to do some research.

If there’s one thing your mommy is, monkey, it’s curious. I ask lots of questions. It’s just in my nature. And so, here was a very important question; what is the normal heart rate for a 6 week 2 days old fetus? I scoured the internet, forums, medical journals, medical articles, worried moms posting their experiences and questions online. If it had to do with fetal heart rate. I read it. And baby, guess what? Mommy is smiling again. This is what I found out (courtesy of http://www.ob-ultrasound.net/):

Fetal heart rate tends to vary with gestational age in the very early parts of pregnancy. Normal heart rate at 6 weeks is around 90-110 beats per minute (bpm) and at 9 weeks is 140-170 bpm. At 5-8 weeks a bradycardia (less than 90 bpm) is associated with a high risk of miscarriage.

Baby!!! You are not only within the normal range, you’re at the higher end!!! I am feeling much better now. I knew you were strong. I just knew it. 🙂 If we’re being completely honest, I’m still nervous to no end and very cautiously optimistic because of what happened to your little angel sibling that came before you. It ripped my heart into pieces and made me more determined than ever to get things right for you.

As for your clinginess to my uterine wall…well I’ve tried researching it and I’ve not come up with anything convincingly worrisome about that one. Maybe my uterus is just so comfy you’d like to be close to it haha. I have no idea. I’m just hoping you stretch out your little nubs soon though and take advantage of all that space inside your gestational sac. It’s there for you to use and be happy. So, feel free!

So all in all, we had to demote you back down to 6 weeks 2 days, but that’s okay with me. You have a healthy heartbeat and increasing HCG. So, we’re looking good! These next two weeks are going to drive me absolutely insane with worry. I just hope upon hope that you’re hanging on in there and fighting, cause I’m fighting out here for you, baby. I want you so badly so stick with me okay? Anything you need, don’t hesitate to ask. 😉

Here is your very first close-up my love! 6w2d; heart rate 114, a little clingy to mommy’s insides…

I’m counting down the days until I get to see you again…2 weeks seems like an eternity. I love you!

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About Em

After the loss of our first pregnancy, we took a much needed vacation to Costa Rica to enjoy each other and clear our minds. Well, as luck would have it, we brought home much more than great memories and great tans...our own little Costa Rican souvenir. Here is our journey!
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2 Responses to Houston, we have a heartbeat!

  1. Dani says:

    Friend,
    I’m so sorry you had to go alone today! If my Moo wasn’t all germy I would have gone to hold your hand. Don’t ever hesitate to ask me to go with you!

    I’m so glad your little troublemaker is doing well in there – just taking after all of our complicated tkn babies.

    Hang in there!

  2. annika says:

    It’s a snuggler – mine are too 🙂 Wouldn’t you be a little nervous about exploring the vast expanse of the uterine sack if you were only the size of a pea?
    I wish I could tell you the worry ends at some point, but I don’t think it ever does. Kids are endless joy and endless worry. Once you have them, you’re never completely, totally happy again, because there’s always the taint of worry. But they are so so very worth it!

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