Friday, May 10, 2013

my truth about ultrasounds

i remember when i got pregnant with wyatt and doing a little bit of research on ultrasounds. (specifically that they really aren't all that necessary, there's still some questions about the impact they have on your unborn baby, and how that over the years, that the use/overuse of technolgy is a blessing and a curse.) we talked to our midwife about them and agreed that we really had no reason to be excessive when it came to seeing our babe in advance of his birth. we were confident about the conception date, so skipped a 9 weeker. then agreed that the 12 week wasn't necessary, because we felt that hearing the heart beat at 11 weeks was enough for us to feel confident that our little person, not knowing the gender, was doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing in there. we agreed that a half way point ultrasound was in the cards. so at 19 weeks, we went to washington imaging in bellevue and had a pretty amazing experience. seeing wyatt for the first time together was pretty awesome. he was healthy, happy, and growing. the tech was amazing and we had a full hour watching him. we saw as much of him as we possibly could and even today, it remains one of ty and i's most favorite memories together. at 24 weeks i ended up with kidney stones (totally awesome. not.) and had to get a couple of ultrasounds of my kidney stones, really seeing nothing of my kiddo. 13 or so weeks later he was here. and it was perfect.

when i got pregnant this time, i felt a little differently about the ultrasounds. i decided i wanted the 12 week ultrasound, really to simply put myself at ease. i realized looking back that it wasn't until that 19 week ultrasound with wyatt, that i felt calm and confident things were going to be a-ok. i thought to myself, hey - if i can feel that way at 12 weeks then even better. i'll have a calmer and less stressful pregnancy and all will be well.

we went to a different place this time - eastside maternal fetal medicine. i should have known that it was going to be a different experience the moment i walked into the place. they asked that i come 15 min early to my appointment, so i told ty to be there on time, but that i would go early, fill out any paperwork and wait for him to go back. that really wasn't an option. the tech called me back, and even though i said i wanted to wait for my husband, she said she needed to get me started. i obliged, and assumed she meant we'd get settled in the room, she'd ask me a few questions and we'd wait for ty before she lubed me up. not exactly. she laid me down, had me pull my shirt up, squeezed the gel on, and before i had time to slow her down, i was seeing my little babe on the screen. ty missed it. and she didn't care. i was dissapointed. ty did get there after a few minutes, and the tech continued doing her thing, silently. she was serious and unfriendly. we did the little neck measurement for downs, talked with a genetic counselor and felt pretty good that the chances of a chromosomal abnormality were pretty slim. that was that. we scheduled our 20 week ultrasound and we left.

i gave the feedback to my midwife, questioning why we were sent there and not washington imaging. i'm still not really sure the answer there, but i chalked it up to the tech and kept our appointment for the 20 week ultrasound.

i got a call the week before my 20 week ultrasound from eastside maternal fetal medicine, telling me that my chromosomal test was actually incomplete and that i needed to come in right away to do the blood test. they were supposed to do that before i left apparently, but never said anything to me about it. i asked if i could just do it when i came in for my 20 week and they said that it would be "too late" by then. ty and i chatted and agreed that we were ok with not going back in. the genetic counselor's feedback in the appointment was sufficient and at that point, we realized it wouldn't change anything. we'd be in the following week anyway for the ultrasound and that was good enough for us.

i was nervous the morning of our 2nd ultrasound. it was the half way point and i just wanted everything to go ok. i felt anxious. the morning was hectic and ty and i ended up having to drive separately. he was running late and when i got to the office, my nerves got the best of me. i had texted ty to see if he was on his way. no response. i waited and waited (probably one to three minutes max). i started imagining ty missing the start of this one too, and i immediately started sobbing in the lobby. i had to go the bathroom and when i came out, ty was there. phew. when we went back to the room, our tech introduced himself and we learned he was actually a physician. good news, we thought. perhaps our experience would be even more thorough. we immediately learned she was a little girl, and i was overwhelmingly happy. i'll never forget that feeling. it was intense, and perfect. i was right. she was a girl. as quickly as i was hit with this incredible amount of happiness, i was brought back to reality when he abruptly told me that she was measuring "pretty small" at 15 percentile. he spent the rest of his time on her brain and her heart. mine raced. he was pretty quiet, not giving much of an update on what he was seeing, or if everything was ok. we waited and hung on every word he was about to say. her heart looked perfect. music to my ears. her brain, amazingly healthy. even better. he measured her limbs quickly and told us that her leg was "measuring smaller", finishing his sentance with the words i'll never forget, "which can be a red flag for down syndrome". ok. if he didn't have my attention before, he most definitely had it now. we continued to listen to him and within seconds the ultrasound was over. it was 15 minutes long. he had us come to his office to talk through my dates a little bit more and mentioned that her size may have to do with my ovulation date because i was nursing when we conceived, which can throw off your ovulation. he told us to come back in 6 weeks to check her growth and sent us on our way.

i felt jipped. not only because that special moment of learning the sex of my baby was replaced by feelings of fear, but i didn't even see her. no profile shots, no feet above her head, no sucking the thumb or hands, nothing. i saw her brain and her heart apparently but it was fast and nerve wracking. i called later that afternoon to see if perhaps my appointment was squeezed in and not complete. was i supposed to meet with a tech first, then the physician? it just didn't feel right. and i was scared. and most importantly, i didn't connect with my baby at all. that ultrasound for wyatt was so special and i walked away feeling so close to him. my ultrasounds with my little girl were rushed, serious and anything but comforting. these were all the reasons i wanted to have the ultrasounds in the first place. perhaps that was the problem.

6 long weeks went by. i tried thinking positive and healthy thoughts for my girl. urging her to grow and do her thing. doing whatever i could to stay calm and focused not on what i could control and to just let it be. my midwife during this time was amazing. she was suppotive and reminded me that these ultrasound folks are wired to look for the problems. everything she said made sense. her words really got me through until we went back in. "they are holding a hammer and looking for nails."

on april 22, we went back in. same guy, same nerves. we had an awkward start as he asked me if there was anything he should know before he got started. so i told him how i felt after the last appointment. i kept it simple - i felt like it was really fast, and i didn't really leave feeling like i saw her. i asked if he could go a bit slower today and before i could even finish, he was defensive and abrupt - even saying that i could go with one of his partners instead. i mentioned that the DVD he burned last time didn't work. he argued that it was probably our computers (all 6 of the one's we tried). it was awkward, and the lump i had in my throat originally grew to the size of a goiter. wyatt was with us because the appointment was early and it was going to be easier. it was not. bad call on our part. he started the ultrasound, being sure to point out that the DVD was recording. she was still small. her leg was still shorter. and so was her arm. ty was in and out with wyatt, making it even harder for me to focus and understand what he was saying. you kind of go deaf in these moments. it's a little "teacher on charlie brown" -- wa wa wa wa... now what, i thought?

he recommended we do the down blood screen to just make sure. fine. anything to just give me some answers. if she had it, i decided we'd want to know now so we could start preparing. and if she doesn't, then i could confidently tell this guy to shove it up his ass. i cried the whole time the nurse drew my blood. i was overwhelmed. i was frustrated that i was letting this guy cause me to doubt that everything was ok. i was mad at myself for doing these ultrasounds in the first place. why did i feel the need to put myself, my husband, and my little girl through this? all to find out the sex? pretty much.

they told us that the results could take "up to 2 weeks". as i left to meet ty and wyatt in the lobby another nurse told me as i passed, "it's not as bad as it looks". thanks. and who are you?

after a couple of days, i had digested everything and accepted it. whatever it would be, but confident our girl was healthy, just a little on the small side. we waited 2 weeks and no call. i called at the end of the day on monday - guessing my voicemail was an "oh shit" moment in their office. i imagined the awkward genetic counselor in that moment, "oops. i totally forgot about her" as she pulled my negative results from the bottom of the pile. she called the next day and after about 3 rounds of phone tag, i heard the news i knew i'd hear. "negative".

i expected myself to feel a huge sense of relief. instead, i was relaxed and confident in that moment. i knew everything was fine. i've known all along.

trust your gut. lesson learned. again.

i've spent the better part of the last 8 weeks in a state of 'what if' - playing a back and forth game with confidence and doubtfulness.

it's one of those things - if i could tell myself then, what i know now... trust in nature, trust in yourself, trust in your body, and leverage technology when it's truly needed. my reason for leveraging it definitely wasn't worth the stress i've put on my body and on my baby the last 2 months, that's for sure.

i will say that i did find peace those few days following the april 22 blood draw. i had clarity and realized that even though it wasn't at all how i imagined, i've bonded with my sweet girl. i quickly realized the love i have for her and how incredibly protective of her i was - already. she is strong. she is teaching me lessons already. all of this was part of our story.

i will spend the remainder weeks of this pregnancy trusting God, trusting myself and trusting her.

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