I had my first OB appointment today. After weeks of waiting, I am almost out of my first trimester. (Is it technically 12 weeks or 13 weeks? No matter which, as long as my stomach gets the memo, I will be happy.) For some unexplained reason, all of our unborn babies have been graced with candy shoppe nicknames until we found out if they were boys or girls (yes, we are finder-outers!). Jamie was Fudge, Clare was Skittle, and this little one is Jelly Bean.
In my past pregnancies, the OB cannot find the heartbeat at 12 weeks. With Jamie’s pregnancy, I laid on the table with my stomach in knots while the OB ran the Doppler over my belly. No heartbeat, no heartbeat. Having miscarried my first pregnancy, this was agony. Finally the OB (who, luckily for him, I cannot remember which one he was, but I do remember he was male) said cheerfully, “Well, can’t find the heartbeat, but maybe the baby is small. Come back in 4 weeks and we will try again.” Not knowing what else to do, I straightened my clothes and left the office. To wait four more endless, painful weeks wondering if my baby was alive or not. We all know how the story turned out (because I have this amazing, crazy 3½ year old!), but I smartened up since that experience. I found my favorite OB at the clinic (she delivered both Jamie and Clare – Jamie by chance of the on-call schedule, Clare by choice since I was induced). At my first appointment during Clare’s pregnancy, she could not find the heartbeat. She explained that I had a retroverted uterus – not uncommon and not a problem since it corrected itself once the baby got bigger. But it meant the baby was at the back of my uterus, at the back of my body, too small and too far away for the Doppler to pick up the heartbeat. So she ordered an ultrasound for that afternoon. Sure enough, we got to see Clare (or Skittle, as she was known then) dancing around on screen with her heart beating.
So, this time, when the moment of truth came, my OB remembered about the heartbeat. She said it was a challenge now for her to find it at 12 weeks. After maybe 30 seconds of moving the Doppler around, there it was – the sound of galloping horses, a solid, steady 170 beats per minute. Very cool for someone who has never heard her baby’s heartbeat this early. There is nothing like hearing that sound for the first time in your pregnancy. Finally, a confirmation (other than a faint pink line that I always question if it’s really there) that there really is a tiny human being living inside you. You’re not just sick and getting fat for nothing! Absolutely amazing.
We naturally discussed Clare – one, because she was there and is just so adorable that you can’t help talking about her! But also, obviously, because of her medical and genetic history. Shawn and I declined having any testing done whatsoever. All those numerous screenings for things such as Downs syndrome, cystic fibrosis, etc. I have never done any of that testing. One, because it would not alter the course of the pregnancy for us, and two, because there are many false positives. But if you’re positive, I would be encouraged to have CVS testing or amniocentesis, which is too invasive in my opinion and carries a risk of inducing miscarriage. And, again, regardless of the results, it would not change our decisions regarding pregnancy. Of course, I want my baby to be healthy, but if he/she is not, I also know it’s not the end of the world. We are, however, having a fetal echocardiogram done around 22-23 weeks. Although Clare’s heart defects are 99.99% related to her having Williams syndrome, there are cases of children having the same heart defects and not having WS. And since both Jamie and Clare have a congenital defect (Jamie was born without a thyroid gland), there may be a good possibility we have another child born with a congenital defect. The fetal echo is similar to what Clare goes through with her echos (although I won’t be sedated because I promised to be a good girl and lay very still) – completely non-invasive, no risk to me or the baby. We also get our first ultrasound next week to confirm my due date. I am very excited to see Jelly Bean on screen!