Updated: Jul 25, 2019
Hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time is one of the most precious sounds. Not hearing it is one of the most terrifying....
Weeks 4 -11
The first trimester of my pregnancy was exhausting. At 6 weeks, I went to my OB/GYN’s office to confirm pregnancy through a urine test in their office. The midwife I had seen for the last few years had coincidentally left my practice the month I became pregnant. I was assigned a new midwife that I had never met but would start seeing in the second trimester. I was told my next appointment would be at 11 weeks and that the first ultrasound would be at 20 weeks. This was bizarre as many friends I knew had "dating ultrasounds" prior to 12 weeks, but my doctor's office was different apparently. Between 6 weeks and 11 weeks I had extreme sickness all day long, not just in the mornings. I wore sea bands and sucked on ginger drops day and night. I could barely keep any food down and had food aversions to things I typically loved. I was also so tired and weak. During this time I was writing my capstone for graduate school (yup, it was as miserable as it sounds), finishing my last two classes and was a bridesmaid in a wedding.
When I went to my first appointment with an OB nurse, they took a urine test to confirm I was still pregnant and it came back as positive. I was told I had lost 6lbs since they weighed me at 6 weeks. Based on how I had been feeling, the nurse said I likely had Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) and to try to eat as much as I could tolerate. She went over me and my husband's family history and general information about the first trimester and then told me she would look for the baby's heartbeat with a fetal Doppler machine.
As she began to look for our baby's heartbeat, all we could hear was swishing and the sounds of fluid moving. She nervously said how sometimes it takes a while to find the heartbeat at first and that she would keep looking. After a few minutes, she decided she'd ask another nurse to come in and try, but she wasn't able to find it either. The look on her face made me anxious but I tried keeping an open mind. Typically, fetal heart rates can be detected as early as 7-8 weeks but can take longer to find in many cases. More information on fetal dopplers can be found here. She told me she'd schedule another appointment for the following week and try again then. Because I had a positive pregnancy test, she told me to not be concerned they did not find the heartbeat yet but her face said otherwise. When we left, my husband tried reassuring me that everything was okay but I didn't know what to think. In my mind... no heartbeat, no baby. I tried pushing those thoughts out of my mind. As far as I knew we had a healthy baby growing.
The next week was filled with anxiety and on top of that, I started feeling intense pain on my right side of my pelvis. It would come and go but sometimes but so intense I'd feel like I'd have to double over. In my mind, I knew something was not right so when I went to my appointment that week, I fully expected my urine test to come back and show I had lost the baby. It didn't. I still had enough HGC in me to show a positive pregnancy test. When I finally met my midwife, I told her about the pain I was feeling and she seemed concerned because I shouldn't be having pain as I described this early in pregnancy. She attempted to find the baby's heartbeat with the fetal doppler and to my amazement... we heard the faintest, most beautiful, single little heartbeat come out of the speaker. The feeling of relief washed over me and my husband.
Still though, the midwife was concerned about the pain I was feeling and wanted me to head to radiology immediately for an emergency ultrasound. She guessed that I either was having an ectopic pregnancy or had an ovarian cyst that was causing the pain. If you don't know what an ectopic pregnancy is, information can be found here. " As the fetus grows, it will eventually burst the organ that contains it. This can cause severe bleeding and endanger the mother's life. A classical ectopic pregnancy does not develop into a live birth, " according to Kids Health. Knowing this, fear immediately filled me again. We walked to radiology to be told it was too late to get an ultrasound that day and I needed to come back first thing in the morning for an 9am appointment.
Are you ready?
Because the appointment was scheduled with such short notice, my husband wasn't able to go with me because he had to work. I figured that I could just update him when he went on his lunch break. I arrived on time, with a full bladder just as instructed and the ultrasound technician began her examine, which was so painful. She made a few faces of confusion and explained that she was having trouble finding what she needed to because my bladder was too full. She asked me to go relieve some of the fluids so that she could get a better picture. I thought to myself, "does this lady really think I can stop going once I start?!" but obliged dutifully. When I came back in the room a few minutes later, the women seemed happier and relived. She started the examine again and wasn't saying anything but something seemed...off. I asked her what was going on and if everything was okay. She explained that she really didn't need me to empty part of my bladder but used that as an excuse to check my chart and call my midwife to see what I knew so far as to not freak me out. I immediately began to panic and she looked me in the face and said "Are you ready?" I thought, "ready for what, this lady is nuts and is happy something is wrong with me baby? What a psycho". I asked, "Yes, is something wrong?"
The ultrasound technician said, “No... no, nothing is wrong. You are just having twins!" ... what? I must have misheard her as tears filled in my eyes. "There are two babies in there. When I first looked I was so shocked because I knew you were coming in for pain so I wanted to be sure what I was seeing was correct. I called your midwife to make sure this wasn't a mistake but I knew what I was seeing. Two sacs, one placenta. You have two babies in there"... My response, "TWO BABIES?! There's no way. Shut up..."