The final ultrasound

When I first started going to the doctor after becoming pregnant, I was told that we would get two ultrasounds: one at 8 weeks to check for a heartbeat and get a measurement for a more accurate due date and one at 20 weeks to find out the sex (which we didn’t) and check for limbs and heart chambers and things like that.

At our 20-week ultrasound everything looked good, except one little thing: the placenta was low in the uterus, closer than it should be to the cervix. This can be a problem come delivery time because the placenta cannot be delivered before the baby. If the placenta is blocking the cervix at the end of the pregnancy, it’s called placenta previa and it requires a C-section, no ifs, ands or buts.

My doctor said not to worry because it was still early, and nine times out of ten it will move up to where it belongs and all will be well. But she needed to schedule an ultrasound in the third trimester to check and make sure it had moved.

Of course when I heard this at 20 weeks I was actually kind of happy – another ultrasound! A peek at our baby’s face later on in the pregnancy!

But as the date drew nearer and we learned more about placenta previa in our childbirth class, I started to worry. What if it hasn’t moved and I need a C-section? I don’t want one! Of course, healthy baby is the #1 goal, and if that requires a C-section there’s nothing I can do about it. But I really would prefer not to have a C-section. I want to go through every stage of labor, no matter how long and painful, and have a baby the old-fashioned way.

After I had worried sufficiently, I switched gears and began to prepare myself for the possibility of a C-section. There are a few pluses to it, and though they aren’t enough to make me want one, I tried to focus on the good. Like knowing exactly when the baby would come, or even being able to choose his/her birthday. A 2011 baby or a 2012 baby? We would (possibly) get to decide. And I would get two extra weeks of paid leave from work. And I could stop practicing breathing techniques and relaxation exercises. And I’d avoid the scary unknown of childbirth (granted, a C-section is a scary unknown in itself and the recovery is harder).

Then I just tried to stop thinking about it and instead pray.

Tuesday was the day. I would finally find out and put the big question mark behind me.

As I hopped up on the table for the ultrasound, I forgot all about placenta previa and just got excited to see the baby. I reminded my doctor that we didn’t want to know the sex.

“Hi, Baby!” she said as the picture came into the frame. There was the face, with chubby little cheeks (as far as I could tell on the grainy image). There was a leg, an arm, etc.

“Looks good,” my doctor told me. I remained fixated on the sonogram. “Yep,” she continued. “Head is up here, placenta is in the right spot, everything’s good.”

Sigh of relief. “Yay!” I said, partially in reaction to the news but mostly because it was so exciting to see the baby’s image. “Can I have a picture?”

Funny how that abstract image on the screen made me stop caring about placenta previa or anything else. I got the good news I was praying for, but by then I was more interested in those chubby cheeks.

I guess it’s just another reminder that the baby is all that really matters. Labor and deliver, whether C-section or not, is just the means to an end – or rather, a beginning. Of life.

The ultrasound

This morning was our big 20-week ultrasound! For some reason I was nervous for it. Nervous-excited I guess.

Unfortunately, about 15 minutes after our scheduled appointment time, my doctor came running out through the waiting area and told us she had to go do a delivery. Obviously, you can’t plan these things, so we patiently waited for another hour or so, and before we knew it, it was time for the big show.

It’s always so incredibly exciting just to hear the heartbeat, so seeing the baby and hearing the heartbeat at the same time was such a treat. How strange to learn exactly what position the baby is in, and where his or her head and legs are positioned inside me. It makes it so much more real.

My favorite picture from the ultrasound is probably this one, of a tiny foot.

I also love how in this one you can see the little fists positioned above the head like a boxer.

Overall, I was surprised by how… abstract the images on the screen were. It took some pretty tough concentration from us and detailed explanation from our doctor for us to have any idea what we were looking at. I wouldn’t say it was disappointing, because it still was an amazing experience, but it was a bit less clear than I was expecting.

Of course I realized as we were walking out that I forgot to ask her to turn on the 3D capabilities! That would have been exciting to see.

We will actually be getting one more ultrasound, because my doctor wants to check and see if the placenta has moved away from the cervix later on in the pregnancy (she is confident that it will move). That will be a quick and easy one, but still something to look forward to.

We did not, as I mentioned before, find out whether we’re having a boy or a girl. I was warned that sometimes the doctor still looks to see the sex, but ours didn’t (or if she by any slim chance did, she didn’t tell us and we couldn’t tell), so it kind of makes me happy that we’ll all be surprised at the same time (and we aren’t missing out on some secret that anyone who looks at my file will know).

On the way back from the doctor, we spotted a baby rummage sale, which brings me to my next milestone of the day: I bought my first baby items! The sale was all very pink and girly clothing, so I only found a few gender-neutral items, but it was still quite fun and exciting (plus, I love a good deal). I’ll share some pictures tomorrow.