The ultrasound technician welcomed us into the clinic room as if we were students late for first period. Sea and I glanced at each other: “girls” coming to check on the status of our second kid.
We’ve been back to Clinic One a couple of times since my last update. The day before the eight (and a half) week ultrasound, I began to spot. There was only a very little bit of blood, and the fact that it showed up less than 24 hours before a visit to the fertility clinic meant that I had very little time to panic. The ultrasound the next day showed a healthy Powerball (vaguely resembling an owl) and a small uterine bleed.
The uterine bleed didn’t greatly worry Dr Paul, who cheerfully announced that my chance of miscarriage is still only 1-3%, given that I’m not “that old”, but it did result in two things:
- A visit to the nearest ER to get a shot of RhoGAM, because Lefty is Rh positive and I’m Rh negative.
- A bonus ultrasound at 9.5 weeks, which showed a still-healthy Powerball and a bleed that was no better or worse.
After that excitement, we were released from Clinic One until the NT scan at 12 weeks: last Wednesday. With her teacher-like greeting, the ultrasound technician ushered us into the clinic room and quickly explained the NT scan: an ultrasound followed by two blood draws: one that day, the other three weeks later, with the aim of identifying the probability of some genetic conditions. The ultrasound is longer than the others done by Clinic One, our strict teacher/sonographer explained, and would require her to focus. (I understood this as a preemptive admonishment: don’t talk.) After the measurements were done, she would show us the baby and we could ask questions.
So I lay on the table, dutifully not talking over the ultrasound machine’s beeps. I alternately made faces at Sea, bobbed my head to the pop mix playing over the speakers in the background, and stared at the poster directly above my head, which happened to feature three bare baby butts. After a short eternity, the teacher/sonographer was done. She turned the screen to us and showed us Powerball. Somewhere between 9 and 12 weeks, Powerball had transformed from a blob into something distinctly human. S/he waved her limbs around, rolled away from the ultrasound wand, wiggled some more. A brief switch to the 3D view showed Powerball still wiggling, looking like a claymation film.
Our teacher/sonographer seemed pleased. “I can’t tell you anything, obviously.” she said, “I’m not your doctor. But from what I can see everything looks good. Measurements are good. Movement is good. Your baby is very active.” I guiltily thought about the giant chocolate banana smoothie I had been slurping on my way into the clinic, which had doubled as breakfast and as the “something sweet” Dr Paul had previously instructed me to drink before the NT scan… no wonder Powerball was “very active”. Half-joking, I asked the teacher/sonographer if she had a guess about Powerball’s sex. “No,” she lectured, “it’s too soon to tell. Besides all I’m doing is seeing if the baby has two heads, two arms, two legs… er, one head.” Right, that.
The ultrasound done, Sea headed back to work and I waited for the bloodwork and visit with Dr Paul. As I sat, the teacher/sonographer delivered some paperwork to the women working in the blood lab. “Hello girls!” she greeted them. They both scowled. “What?” the teacher/sonographer asked, seeming genuinely surprised, “You don’t like being called girls?” “No,” one of them replied, “we aren’t girls. We’re WOMEN.” I appreciated this so much that I didn’t even really mind when the blooddraw resulted in one blown vein and two pokes. Besides, I told myself as I staunched the blood afterwards, there aren’t that many blood draws left. 12 weeks marks our “graduation” from Clinic One, and release into the world of average pregnancy. Of course average pregnancy involves a poke here or there, but not nearly the same bloodlust as you find in a fertility clinic.
The graduation itself lacked pomp and ceremony, consisting only of a brief meeting with Dr Paul in a clinic room. He explained, again, that everything looks good. The bleed is still there, but of a similar size and nothing to worry about. Powerball is doing what fetuses do, and growing bigger in an entirely boring and comforting way. Dr Paul congratulated me, shook my hand, and sent me to the front desk to get an envelope of papers before I left Clinic One for the foreseeable future*. No hat, no gown, no diploma with a shiny sticker. Just one healthy fetus, two greyscale ultrasound prints, and a handshake from the guy who knocked me up. So long, Clinic One, and thanks for all the sperm.
So now we move on to the world of average pregnancy: one without HCG draws, weekly ultrasounds, the constant reassurance of people who are in the business of getting others pregnant. Though it’s a little disconcerting to not have constant check-ins with Powerball, there’s also something nice about feeling so, well, average.
On the subject of average pregnancy:
- The first trimester is almost up and has been, like last time, pretty smooth. I did spend the first eight weeks or so feeling constantly carsick, but am happy to announce that I’ve managed to stay puke free. I’m also happy to announce that my cheese aversion from 2013 hasn’t made a comeback. In fact, I spent a few weeks disgusted by all smells and spices, and survived on a diet of macaroni and cheese/prenatal vitamins.
- We told my immediate family after the nine week ultrasound. The announcement to my parents was a hastily planned Skype reveal, during which Sea held up the picture of Powerball the owl and I asked who would now be the favourite grandchild. My mother reacted with delight but not surprise (she knew we were trying), and my father was again confused but pleased. “A baby? How? Who’s pregnant? You? Well, I’m just delighted!”
- Sea hasn’t told her family yet, but I’m guessing it’s coming soon. She spent a good portion of Easter Sunday taking pictures of baby shoes outside, which I can only hope is part of her creative vision for a baby announcement.
- We’re back with the same midwifery clinic and happily have Diet Coke as our primary midwife again. The first visit was in early March, the second last Friday. The appointments themselves haven’t been too exciting yet, I haven’t even heard the heartbeat over the Doppler, but it’s infinitely comforting to be back in the care of our midwives.
- The Ovia app tells me that Powerball is the size of a macaron. Delicous!
*Whether or not we’ll ever be back to Clinic One is still up in the air. The clinic is still home to three vials of Lefty’s sperm, after all. Check back in about this after Powerball arrives and I remember what infants are actually like.