Ultra sounds are traumatic for me. I think once you've been told the worst news on two separate occasions -- "I'm sorry there is no heartbeat" and "I'm sorry, your baby won't survive" -- there is a level of PTSD wrapped up in the entire experience.
The anxiety usually starts about a week or so leading up to the ultra sound and peaks during the scan itself. It's probably embarrassing to admit, but I have cried through every single ultra sound of this pregnancy. I cried while the sweet nurse drew my blood for my NIPT chromosome tests. I cry every time I wait for the doctor to review the scans, and I've cried every time the doctor has told me that everything looks good. I've cried a lot. I know I've said it before but I will say it again -- you have to do whatever you have to do to survive a sub pregnancy.
This scan was no different, except this one was performed at my regular obgyn's office instead of the maternal fetal medicine office (MFM) for hi-risk patients. Since I have cleared so many milestones at this point, my doctor thought it was perfectly fine to have this check on regular ultrasound equipment.
James has been with me for every ultra sound which has been an unbelievable support. Typically he's just as worked up as me, but this time he seemed pretty calm as we waited to get called. I tried my best to feed off of his vibe, but the second I heard my name called, my stomach dropped.
I walked into the dark room and was very taken aback with how chatty the ultra sound technician was. I've become so accustomed to the technicians at MFM who are all very direct, informative and emotionless. It's usually very mechanical -- I am going to measure the brain now, I am going to move to the heart, here is the right kidney, here is the left kidney -- and when I'm emotional and scared, that's exactly what I need. They don't mess around because they have seen the worst.
The second I laid on the table, the ridiculously nosy technician looked at our paperwork and immediately attacked me with a million questions.
Technician: Why is this your first ultrasound in this office?
Me: Because I have been going to MFM this pregnancy.
Technician: Why? You are still young?
Me: Because I've had multiple losses.
Technician: Oh I'm so sorry... how many?
Technician: Oh, I bet it was because you didn't have enough progesterone. Am I right? Was it your progesterone?
Me: Um, no. My losses were unrelated.
Technician: Let's take a look at this baby! There she is! Oooo look at her little feet! How adorable!
>Cue the tears<
(For some reason the feet always get me...I can't help but picture the doctor placing Grace's tiny feet on that little piece of paper that I have in her memory box)
Technician: (Completely ignoring me) Oh look, she's grabbing her feet with her hands above her head! Isn't that cute?
Me: Is she measuring on track? Does her heart sound okay?
Most mothers want to "oo" and "ah" over their baby waving at them, sucking their thumb, or in my case, reaching for their toes. And that is so great if that is all you think happens in an ultrasound, but I'm not most mothers. I need facts: nuchal fold measurements, number of heart chambers, heart rate, brain size, organs check, number of weeks she's tracking. I literally cannot breathe or blink until I get confirmation that the baby looks healthy. Clearly this particular technician did not understand that. We finished the scan and she handed me some pictures of our daughter while babbling on about names. Of course she printed the feet picture.
I am proud to say that I made it through the entire experience without punching her in the face, so that's a win. And I'm also proud that I managed my first half-smile during a scan when she said she could see our daughter practicing her breathing. (Not because I thought that was cute, but because that's a very good sign that she is developing well.)
We had an appointment with our doctor immediately following the scan and she confirmed that everything looks right on track. Those words still feel surreal to me. Even now, at 28 weeks pregnant, I still ask her to repeat it.
Then my doctor looked at me and said, "Hadleigh, it's time." Confused, I asked, "For what?" She smiled and said, "It's time to get excited about bringing your daughter home in 12 weeks."
Baby girl's feet at 28 weeks.