Yes, my life was changed on Halloween 2006. That little dot on the ultrasound screen gave me such hope. There was still concern, still worry, of course. The doctor said that the bleeding was probably nothing to be worried about, but advised pelvic rest and that I take it easy for the next few days. With four previous losses under my belt, I was hardly running marathons, so that was easy advice to follow. Also, the size of the "dot" put us a few days behind where I thought we should be, however a quick consultation with Dr. Google put me at ease, as according to the great doctor, ultrasound measurements can be off as much as five days either way. We were only three days behind, so all was well.
You know the old saying about being careful about asking for something - 'cause you just might get it? Well, I had been praying for morning sickness. I had always heard that the sicker the mother, the better off the baby. So, I was really hoping to be good and sick. My wish was granted.
At first, it was just a queasy feeling. Like a good pregnant girl, I was reading all of my "What to Expect" and "Girlfriend's Guide" books. They told me that if I ate before getting up and always had something in my stomach, I would be okay. This seemed to work for a little while, even if it seemed that my finicky stomach only wanted certain things. For breakfast, my stomach demanded Corn Pops, a cereal I hadn't eaten since childhood. My stomach couldn't get enough lemonade, but it had to be a certain kind, not just any. If I had ever thought that pregnant women were being picky just because they could, well this was my payback. I finally understood that it wasn't pickiness, it was a need. The stomach demanded and wouldn't let up until it was appeased. As long as I listened to it and ate only what it asked for, it rewarded me with a few hours of peace.
Our next ultrasound was a week later, to see if we could see a heartbeat. This was a big deal to me. Even though I was in love with our "dot," I couldn't quite let myself relax until I saw a good heartbeat. I knew from my research that this would dramatically reduce our chances for miscarriage.
It was on the fateful day of this ultrasound that morning sickness changed from something that I could control to something that controlled me. I had consumed my usual bowl of Corn Pops and two glasses of lemonade. I had my crackers and caffeine free rootbeer at the ready. We had stopped for gas on the way to the appointment and I was sitting in the car when. . .well, I will spare you the details, but it wasn't pretty. I am a private person when it comes to bathroom activities. I have never used the bathroom in front of my husband and before that day, he had never seen me vomit. Pregnancy opened a lot of doors for us - and this was one of them.
I threw up three more times before we got to the doctor's office. I was clutching a plastic bag in the waiting room, because dashing to the restroom was getting dicey. The nurse who put us in the ultrasound room looked at me sympathetically and said, "Sick mom, healthy baby."
I nodded miserably, but was smiling, too. Who ever knew that you could throw up and be so happy? In fact, in the coming weeks, I would start to say "Thank you" to the baby whenever I would throw up. There would be times when I was in the hospital, getting fluids, and I would pat my stomach and think to myself, "Do what you have to, Baby, make me sick, you grow strong and healthy."
They gave me a pan to put by my head as I nervously succumbed to my date with the dildo cam. But I hardly noticed the invasion, because I was soon looking at our little dot. Only now, the dot was bigger and lumpier, with something flashing in the middle.
Our dot had a heartbeat.
The heartbeat was good and strong, right in the range that they want it. The only small concern was that the baby wasn't quite the size it should have been. When Dr. No Personality came in to look over the results, she said that it was probably still fine, just a couple of days behind, but that we would have to come in for another ultrasound in two weeks to see how things were progressing.
It was a day of mixed emotions. I was thrilled to have seen that little flash. And the dot was most certainly bigger. However, I knew that slow growth is not a good sign. I started to cry as we walked through the parking garage - and then promptly threw up behind a parked car.
My husband put his arms around me and held me with such tenderness, which is a little hard to do when I wasn't exactly smelling like a rose. He told me that we had to think positively, that a little person was depending on us doing everything to keep me calm. Then, my husband did the most wonderful thing in the world. He asked me if I wanted to go someplace that I had only dreamed of before, a place that was the shining beacon of all things pregnancy and baby. A place that I hadn't dared to step foot in since we lost our first baby: Babys R Us.
Sick as I was, I wasn't going to turn down a trip to that meccca, not when that beating heart within me gave me the right to be there. I walked through the aisles, for the first time in months, I was able to look at baby things without crying. There were pregnant women everywhere and I only felt a sisterhood with them. My husband came up to me with the softest blanket I had ever seen, with the word BABY stiched on it. He said that it was his present for the baby, and now I had to pick one, too.
My heart lurched at this. It was one thing to enter the kingdom of All Things Baby. It was quite another to buy things within the gates. But he was right. There was a baby, with a beating heart, and we had to think positively. There were so many things that I wanted to buy, but I found the perfect thing: A small frame with a spot for the ultrasound picture and the words "Watching You Grow, Loving You So." It was perfect for the thin little picture that they had given us at the doctor's that day.
That frame went into our kitchen, where it would stay for the next few weeks. I loved having it there, my touchstone of sorts. Even on the worst days of sickness, when I couldn't even keep water down, I would look to that frame and know that everything was going to be okay.
And it was okay. For a little while more.