Little white hearts

It’s a week after our 20-week scan – I should have written sooner, but I’ve been in a bit of a daze since then. The day was such a surreal experience. We were so anxious in the lead up to it. I remember being in the waiting room of the hospital, all these pregnant women round me, feeling like a fraud because I had barely a bump. Although, funnily enough, the morning of the scan (19+6) I started to show a bit more. It’s like at week 19 I had a massive growth spurt. So at least I felt like something was happening, although these flutters that everyone talks about were still elusive. Yes, I felt sensations that could have been baby movements, and probably were, but I couldn’t say definitively.

Waiting, waiting, waiting

So we’re sitting in the waiting room and finally, after 30 tense minutes, we’re called in. The sonographer was clearly in a bit of a rush, and was business-like in her approach. No small talk or niceties – just get on your back and let’s get going. I held my breath and looked away from the screen as she put the jelly and probe on my stomach. But, after a short pause, I could hear the baby’s heartbeat loud and clear. Both my husband and I audibly sighed in relief. We’d been winding each other up so much over the last couple of weeks, so nervous given our previous awful scanning experience, that to hear the baby’s heartbeat is always a huge deal for us.

But it wasn’t over yet, not by a long stretch. This isn’t a fun scan, simply hearing the heartbeat and off you pop. It’s in-depth, and the sonographer is checking all the limbs and organs to make sure everything is as it should be. Of course I’d been googling horror stories of women receiving bad news at the scan, so I knew there’s plenty of potential for things to go wrong. I know, what a glass half full kind of girl I am! But as each check got ticked off, I started feeling more and more confident. There’s the fingers, there are the toes, there’s the spine, there’s the nose. Tick, tick, tick. Our little baby, alive and kicking (even if I can’t feel it), wriggling around trying to avoid being prodded and probed.

Shy baby

That’s right – the baby didn’t really want to be examined. It was hiding behind the placenta a lot, and no matter how much wiggling of the probe the sonographer tried, she couldn’t see everything she wanted. In particular, she couldn’t get a good look at the heart or lips. After about 20 minutes she sent us off to go for a walk and a hot drink, and said she’d call us back in a couple of appointments’ time. We did what we were told, feeling hugely relieved that everything looked OK. 

After about 40 minutes, we went in with the same sonographer – at this point, we’d been in the hospital almost two hours, but I was excited to see the baby one more time. But it was hiding again and the novelty was starting to wear off. Come on baby, I have to get back to work, I remember thinking! Show us your lips, as I don’t want to come back all this way next week! But hide she continued. ‘I’ll give it one last go,’ the sonographer agreed, ‘but you’ll have to wait a bit longer.’

Third time lucky?

Anyway, after another half an hour wait, we were seen by a different sonographer. My husband took this to mean there was something seriously wrong with the baby and this was a covert way of the hospital getting a second opinion without worrying us. But it wasn’t the case and luckily, this time, the baby was in the right position. She could see the baby’s lips and heart perfectly. ‘You’re all done,’ the sonographer said, taking the probe away, ready for her lunch. Not quite, I thought, but my husband beat me to it. ‘Can you tell us if it’s a boy or a girl?’ he asked. ‘What are you hoping for?’ she said. ‘To be honest, all I want is a healthy baby – I don’t care what it is,’ I replied, and genuinely meant it. ‘Well,’ she said, using the probe again to verify. ‘I can confirm you are having a baby girl. Congratulations!’

It’s a… what?!

Apparently my face was a picture. My husband said he wished he’d taken a photo, because my mouth was wide open, incredulous to what I’d just heard. A girl?! We were convinced it was a boy. Even after the earlier scan that day, my husband said he was 70% sure it was a boy. And ever since the 12-week scan, when I applied the nub theory to our photos, I was 90% sure we were having a boy. I’d not bothered to think about boys’ names – I was resigned to it, and even came round to the idea. So to hear this news, I couldn’t believe it. It was the ultimate icing on the cake. Our baby is fine, and we’re having a little girl. What amazing, happy news. (Of course I’d have been happy with a boy as well.) We walked away, free photos in hand (normally you pay £20 but we got them free as we’d waited so long!) feeling utterly elated. 

And it hasn’t really stopped since. All the stress and worry dissipated, replaced by excitement and joy. Of course we let our friends and family know that evening, and celebrated with a small bottle of champagne (it tasted SO good). However, a week later, I still haven’t told people at work. But the nice little secret I had feels more of a burden now. I had a couple of opportunities to announce it in team meetings, but I think I want to wait until after the Christmas break before I do. It’s actually my last working day today for two weeks so, hopefully, in a fortnight, I’ll have a bit more of a bump and more regular movements. I just dread telling everyone and it all going wrong. I know, what an optimist! 😉

First consultant appointment

I should also mention in passing that we had our first consultant appointment this week (20+5). Because we had IVF, and I’m an older mom, and probably because of the miscarriage, we’re under the watchful eye of a doctor during this pregnancy, which means we get three additional scans at 28, 32 and 36 weeks. But the first appointment – which we waited almost two hours for – was literally 10 minutes’ long and felt like the biggest waste of time ever. They took a urine sample, checked my blood pressure, asked us if we had any questions, and that was pretty much it. Oh, and they did use a doppler to find the heartbeat. That was stressful. It took her a good couple of minutes to locate, which was horrible, but eventually we heard it and it was galloping away as it should be. Thank goodness. Everything looks good!

So what next? Well, I want to start feeling proper movements, which I hope will happen over Christmas. Obviously it’s going to be a ‘dry’ festive period, apart from the odd glass of champagne. I’m quite pleased about that, because normally I end up drinking every day and feeling rough, so every cloud and all. We go down to Cornwall on Monday to see the in-laws, then back up to Windsor for a day or two, then up to Newcastle for New Year. So lots of travel. I also have essays to write for my counselling course, which I hope to do mostly on the train journeys so I can chill the rest of the time. I want to read my pregnancy books, do some sales shopping and hopefully fit in a bit of exercise. And plan! I want to make a big list of all the jobs I need to do, and all the things we need to get ready, before our baby girl arrives in April/May.

Reflections from 2019

Who would have thought it? We’ve had such a tricky time this year – so many ups and downs – and we’re ending 2019 on a huge high. I almost daren’t say it, so frightened am I to believe we’re going to have our happy ending, just in case… But everything seems to be going our way now. Look, life is still stressful. Work is a huge drain on my energy, my counselling course is hard work and I won’t bore you with all the other things that weigh on my mind. But it looks as though we may have beaten the odds and are going to have our own baby.

Our clinic tried to persuade us to use donor sperm, and we persisted with our own. Other people would have quit by now, or gone for Option B or C. But we pushed through, and it’s paying off. At times I didn’t believe it would happen, and I’d honestly started to consider a life without kids. But this is our time now. I know not everyone gets what they want on this journey, with its cruel twists and turns. But our story is proof that you can succeed – IVF can and does work – and miscarriage doesn’t mean the end of the road. Wishing everyone out there, no matter where you are on your fertility path, a very merry Christmas, and all my love and best wishes for 2020.

Find out what 2020 has in store.

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