My first midwife appointment was on the 6th. A couple of weeks before that day, I started getting anxious about it. I called and left a message with my midwife group to call me back so that I could talk with someone and find out what I should expect at this first appointment.
The midwife who called me back happened to be the one I'd made the appointment to see. It was nice to be able to "meet" her over the phone first. I told her about my miscarriage, my desire to know that my pregnancy was progressing normally this time, and my anxiety about trying to hear the heartbeat. I asked if I could have an ultrasound if we couldn't find the heartbeat with the doppler.
She was very calm and understanding. She explained that you can't always hear the heartbeat with the doppler this early, that it would be perfectly normal, and that she would feel fine about sending me for an ultrasound if that's what I wanted. She offered to have me come in a week early to try for a listen, but I wanted to wait until I hit the 10-week mark, and she agreed that this was a key time. She said we should wait and see how I felt at the appointment.
She also told me it was completely normal for me to be feeling anxious around the milestones of my miscarriage. I learned of my miscarriage at 13 weeks, but was told the pregnancy ended around week eight or nine. I had no signs that anything was wrong, and so this time around, I feared the same thing could be happening. She asked if I knew other women who'd experienced miscarriage, saying that although it may not help me to feel calmer, it might help me to hear that others go through the same thoughts and feelings.
So, I waited. It was a long wait, but when the day of the appointment arrived, I wished I had a few more days to collect myself. I was quite nervous. The day before, I had started to picture what I would want to do if we couldn't hear the heartbeat. I knew that an ultrasound would definitely show one way or the other what was going on. But I wondered if I'd be better off not knowing for a bit longer. I was scared.
It was an ultrasound that showed me no baby last time. I didn't want to go through that again. Even if the ultrasound showed everything to be fine, I knew all of those painful memories would come back full-force in that room.
Plus, we had plans to go out of town for Easter weekend. We were going to drive to Wisconsin to see my inlaws. Charon was so excited to see her cousins. There are five little girls on Pete's side of the family, ranging in age from two to seven. They don't get together very often, and when they do they have a ball. If I found out something wasn't going right, we'd have to cancel our trip. I'd be disappointing so many people in several different ways.
I hadn't had any signs that anything was wrong. My morning sickness was coming and going, but was around often enough to assure me it was there. I had had no cramping or spotting. I really wanted to treat this like a normal pregnancy. It was a normal pregnancy, as of right now. Why should I act differently out of fear?
The midwife was wonderful. She remembered our conversation and my story. She told me that we probably didn't have to do the pelvic exam this time, that sometimes women who've experienced a loss feel vulnerable this early on. I asked her if we could draw fewer than four vials of blood this time, too. She looked over my records from the second pregancy, decided what we should do today, what we didn't need to do, and what could wait.
She examined me first - breathing, heart, breasts, etc. - then got the doppler ready. I told her I wasn't sure I'd want an ultrasound today, even if we couldn't hear it. She said we could talk more after we listened.
It took a couple of minutes. I could tell she really wanted to find it for me. Finally, I heard a short breeze of something, and her eyes lit up. "Did you hear that? That was it!" She tried some more, and then caught it for a full four or five seconds. What a beautiful, peaceful, quiet little sound. "Thank you," I said, and then tears started running down my cheeks.
She handed me a Kleenex, and smiled gently. "Let's skip the pelvic exam, shall we?"
I had that amazing sound in my ears for hours afterwards, and I spent the afternoon and evening sharing how it made me feel. I called Pete first. When I picked up Charon at school, a friend of mine was there so I told her. When we got home, I called my parents and my sister. A friend called me in the late afternoon, knowing I had my appointment that day. Later, I called my brother and sent some emails to family members and friends who were thinking of me. I was overwhelmed by and thankful for the network of support I had.
I thought I wouldn't worry anymore, but I've found that's not the case. I just passed my due date for the second pregnacy. It was April 11th, and the day was gray and gloomy. As we drove home from the cousins adventure, I watched the clouds and bare tree branches, and I kept my hand on my round little belly, telling this baby to keep on growing.
The thirteen-week mark is approaching, too, and I dread that milestone. I need to find myself something to do that day to help me be positive.
Last fall, after my miscarriage, I planted bulbs in the back yard because I was determined to see something new bloom this spring. I've been checking every day, and nothing has emerged from the ground back there yet. It's shadier than the front yard, where my faithful tulips appear every year, so I think I just need to give them more time. I will keep watching and waiting.