She came back in and tried again. Still no heartbeat. I had heard of this happening. In fact, this has happened to almost everyone I know. This is how all their stories start, "The doctor couldn't find a heartbeat." The midwife cleaned up and explained that my uterus is probably tilted toward the back, down inside my pelvic bone. She said it's very common at this stage and it makes it hard to find a heartbeat. I was feeling okay about it, but then she said, "We'll have to order an ultrasound. I know they've left the office for the day, so you'll have to go in tomorrow." At that point I was still just in disbelief. Reality didn't hit me until she said, "Will you be able to sleep tonight?" That's when I became flat out scared and nervous. No heartbeat. That's bad.
We scheduled the ultrasound for 3:00 today. I drove home, numb, but when I turned onto our street I started crying. The word "miscarriage" was ringing in my head and I was telling myself all the things you're supposed to tell yourself when this happens. It's not the right time. It's not meant to be. You have two beautiful girls. It happens so often. It's going to be okay. But as I pulled in the driveway I wanted to yell and scream that, "No! It's NOT okay! This sucks and I don't want any part of it!"
I explained things very quickly to Sylvain and tried to pull myself together for the girls. At the dinner table, Sylvia said, "Mommy, why does your face look like that?" I told her that something sad happened to me today, but I'm better now and I'll be alright. She seemed fine with that answer and was actually very gentle and sweet for the rest of the night. Sylvain had to go to work, so I let the girls watch a movie while I just laid on the couch and shivered under a blanket. All I wanted to do was put the girls to bed so I could get online and start finding out more information.
I did exactly that after bedtime and I found only a few stories of women who went in for an ultrasound to "check for viability" (which is what my midwife said to the scheduling nurse) and left with good news. Most of the message boards and blog posts I read turned out differently. They ended with bad news. I forced myself to read the good ones and I went to bed, weary and exhausted and clinging to those good stories for hope.
Sylvain came home and we talked for a while. We never let ourselves talk about what "could" happen or what "might" happen. We only discussed our plans for the day up until the appointment at 3:00. I don't think either one of us wanted to think past that moment until we absolutely had to.
I sat through a second day of a math workshop today, watching the minutes tick by and praying that it would be 3:00 already because I just needed to know SOMETHING. Waiting is the worst. I had prepared my heart as best I could for this journey to go in one of two directions. I had two blog posts drafted in my head. I had two sets of text messages ready to be sent. One was filled with grief and sadness, the other was filled with relief and joy. All I needed was some information from a technician. At 3:00.
I left my workshop early and met Sylvain and Mom at home. She stayed with the girls so we could both go to the ultrasound. We arrived early and sat in the waiting room. Tapping our toes and twiddling our thumbs and talking about everything except the baby. We were called back to the little room and the tech, Donna-Michelle, was young and pretty and smart and friendly and she put me at ease immediately. I asked her if a doctor was available to talk to us in the case that something was wrong and she didn't even let me finish that thought. She cut me off and said, "Wait now! Let's just see what we've got here."
Donna-Michelle explained that 9 times out of 10, the uterus is tilted back and it's hard to get a reading with a doppler. She tried the ultrasound on the belly but nothing showed up on the screen. Every muscle in my body tensed up until she said, "Yup, your uterus is tilted back, which is not unusual. It'll straighten as it grows, it has nowhere else to go. I think I can see something moving around in there, but I'll have to do a vaginal ultrasound to be sure." Okay! A glimmer of hope. Could it really be possible?? That "9 times out of 10" comment really made my heart soar, so I was getting extremely hopeful.
She started the second ultrasound and suddenly.....there it was! A white baby on a black screen with a tiny, fluttering heart. She pointed at it with the little arrow and said, "There's the heart." Like a dummy, I asked, "Is it beating? Is it okay?" And she flipped a switch so we could hear it.
It was so glorious. The sweetest sound I ever heard. I sobbed and since I was already clinging as tightly as I could to Sylvain's hand, I just started shaking his hand back and forth and he was laughing. Our sweet baby. Alive and well.
Donna-Michelle took some measurements and told me our due date is right on track - July 27th! She printed out the photos and explained that the midwives will have a report ready in a few days. She handed the photos to me, smiled and said, "Congratulations!" And I wanted to hug her. I wanted to pick her up and swing her around and buy her a princess crown. She's my new favorite person. I love her.
So that's where our scary story ends! It's the story filled with joy and relief and I'm still quite in shock over the whole thing. I can't stop staring at pictures of this "little stinker" floating around in my floppy, tilted back uterus, the poor little thing. You can hide, little baby, but we see you! I think he or she will need to read this story when he or she grows up, and I hope that our story helps to ease more mamas' minds if they're waiting for that ultrasound to "check for viability" at 12 weeks. And for all of my friends who didn't get the joyous ending to their story, my heart goes out to you, now and always. There is nothing anyone could say to make it less painful. The phenomenon makes no sense to me and I will always hold those mamas in my heart.
Now it's time for me to go to bed. With my healthy, tiny baby wrapped up safely inside. Given how exhausting this 24 hour journey has been, I can't wait to sleep soundly tonight!