When I first found out I was knocked up, the infertility doctor's office wanted me to come in right away to give me an ultrasound. I guess to be sure I wasn't faking it, even though they'd already made me do the blood test thing. So I did go in, and the doctor stuck that microphone-looking ultrasoundery thing up there (yes, "up" not "over") and searched around while Ish and I stared quizzically at the screen and I tried to pretend I was having a normal morning.
"I'm not seeing anything," The doctor said, looking at the black-and-white blur.
And I immediately thought what any possibly-probably-maybe pregnant woman in stirrups with a giant camera up her hoo-ha would think: Don't tell me I'm doing this for nothing.
Mind you, this is the same doctor who also couldn't see my ovaries with the vag-mic. At that time, he'd said my ovaries weren't showing up either because they were "hiding," or because they were too small to see or produce eggs. Potato, potahto.
(That's sarcasm, folks. I wanted to scream at him. WHAT DO YOU MEAN, YOU DON'T KNOW? WHAT DO YOU MEAN, I'M EITHER FINE OR INFERTILE?)
Anyway, back to the recent past. The doctor eventually angled the vag-mic into a wildly uncomfortable position, like he was trying to poke at my belly-button from the inside. Suddenly a spot appeared on the screen.
"Oh, there it is." Nothing in his demeanor or facial expression changed when he said this. Perhaps he was wondering what to order for lunch. I wanted to kick him in the face. (Wouldn't have been too hard, seeing as his head was about level with my stirrup-ed heels...)
He then went on to explain, while continuously prodding at my uterus all Alien-through-the-stomach-like, that he couldn't get a good reading but it seemed as though Spot was exactly six weeks, 5 days old. Which would put Spot's due date at June 25. Which is exactly what BabyCenter had already told me and it didn't have to come anywhere near me with a giant, lubed-up vag-mic.
He concluded our meeting by saying I should schedule an ultrasound with the Ultrasound People who were apparently located "downstairs." Because they have better equipment and will be able to confirm that Spot is fine and has a heartbeat and everything. Um, okay.
I didn't leave that appointment feeling reassured in any way.
I returned a week or two later to get the Better ultrasound done. While still early, I was hoping that I would see Spot moving or doing something cool. Like be demonstrably alive.
This time, I had to show up with a full bladder. They tell you to drink 12 oz of liquid an hour before your appointment and to hold it.
Ladies and gentlemen, I say to you OH MY GOD. I pee every four seconds as it is. Trying to hold 12 ounces of water for an hour+ is absolutely torturous. But I did it.
I showed up, signed in and sat in the waiting room crossing my legs and trying to think about very dry things. Eventually my name was called (15 painful minutes late, mind you) and Ish and I were escorted into a room with the high-tech ultrasound person called a "sonographer."
You want to know how I know she was called a "sonographer"?
Because. I went in, took off my clothes from the waist down, got up on the table, laid back. She took out her OVER THE BELLY wand (yay! no vag-mic!) and proceeded to see if she could find my bladder so she could press down really hard on it. At least, that's what it felt like. It was painful and weird. AND HERE'S THE BEST PART. The screen was not visible to me. Ish could see it and the "sonographer" could see it, but I could not. I had NO idea what the screen looked like. I just watched her face.
Finally, she spoke: "Do you know why you're here?"
Was this a trick question?
"Because they want to confirm that I'm pregnant, and the age of Spot, and to make sure there's a heartbeat."
She continued to make faces at the screen while testing to see how much longer I could handle not leaking all over the table. She did not, however, reply.
"Uh...so...do you see a heartbeat? Does everything look okay?" I finally asked her in desperation.
And do you know what she said?
She said, "Oh, I can't tell you."
She pointed to the sign on the back of the door. It read something like, "Sonographers are not permitted to make medical assessments. If you have any questions, please contact your doctor directly."
I thought I would cry, but luckily I had all the pain and uncomfortability of a near-to-bursting bladder keeping me distracted.
And just when I thought things couldn't get any more fun, she put the "over" wand away and busted out with the "up" one.
"I just want to see if I can get a better reading with this one."
When it was all over, and I had gone to the bathroom, and we were heading out of the office, the "sonographer" said that the doctor should call with my results by the end of the day. She added, perhaps taking pity on us and my bladder, "There is a heartbeat. It's just -- there's more than that, so be sure to talk to your doctor."
It then took TWO DAYS for me to hear from the doctor's office. Wondering what "more than that" meant. Maybe Spot had a heartbeat but no feet? Maybe there were three Spots? Who knew. So when I finally heard from the office, all the person on the phone said was "Oh, everything looks fine." Which is certainly better than any alternative, but COME ON.
I then had to schedule my first "normal" appointment with the "normal" OB department, I guess because the infertility people consulted with the "sonographer" and decided I should be scooted on over to the "regular pregnant people" office. Or something.
My appointment with the normal OB nurse wasn't until about two weeks ago. And while my appointment was mostly to tell me all the normal stuff -- don't eat sushi, don't use hot tubs, take pre-natal vitamins, sex is fine -- it started off with an ultrasound.
This time, I was pretty excited. I figured I was at about 11 weeks and should be able to see something. Dooce had seen a little thing flapping around by this time. Surely I would, too! Surely there would be an improvement over Spot and "reflection on sonographer's face"!
So out came the vag-mic.
Again, it took some prodding and poking before the nurse could see anything. At least she offered, "It's because of how your uterus is tilted." Good to know, I guess. Hi, my name is Kristy and I have a tilted uterus.
But then again, there it was. I could definitely see Spot on the screen. I couldn't see movement or make out limbs or anything like that, but there was a thing, and it had a head and a not-head, and I was very happy.
Again, however, the nurse just squinted at the screen.
"It's not a very clear image." Sigh. No, of course not.
"I've heard that being overweight can affect the clarity of ultrasound images. Do you think that's what's happening here?" I offered. No one had mentioned anything about my weight ever, so I was curious.
"That can happen, but I don't think that's the problem here. I think it's just the angle of your uterus."
She tried again to use the super-mega-extreme-ultra-sound to figure out when my due date was, exactly, but said the image wasn't good enough to say for sure. It was looking like July 1, but that might not be accurate.
She finally stopped with the wand, gave me the rest of an exam (your left nipple might be flatter than your right nipple, are you planning to breast feed?), and told me to meet her in her office. There, we discussed all the fun, DON'T DO THIS WHILE YOU'RE PREGNANT stuff.
Decided it was probably best to stick with my original due date of June 25, but it could be later (this sucks only because I am very VERY anxious to be out of this first effing trimester of terror), and scheduled my CVS test.
But I'll get to that.
My point, really, is that I feel pretty good and am trying to be positive and confident. But I already feel like I'm at a disadvantage. I've had THREE ultrasounds, and none of them were especially conclusive. No swimming or flapping around. Nothing but medical professionals squinting at the screen.
I left that last appointment and went home and cried. Maybe next time will be better.
* * * * * *
I go in for my CVS test this afternoon. CVS is, essentially, an early amnio. They stick a large needle into you and take cells from the fetus and then watch those cells develop for a couple weeks. At the end of that time, they can tell you most conclusively about any genetic disorders Spot may have.
Unless there are complications, we will find out if Spot has Fragile-X, among many other very scary-bad chromosomal disorders.
I don't know what we would do under the various possible circumstances. Probably nothing, probably in every case. But we want to know, and we want to know sooner than later. That is what we decided.
The chance of miscarriage is supposedly increased, though they aren't sure by how much. Current figures say anywhere from 1 in 200 to 1 in 360. I'm trying not to think about that.
Instead, I'm trying to think about getting to see -- hopefully, finally, for real -- a good, solid image of Spot. One that doesn't make the medical professional holding the vag-mic squint and go mute.
I'll let you know how it goes.