Thursday, June 5, 2008


Baby has a heartbeat! Yippee! Yahoo! Despite today's 90 degree heat and oppressive humidity, I'm still on cloud nine.

It was an exhausting 2.5 hour appointment. I filled out tons of paperwork, answered tons of questions from the nurse about my six pregnancies and the accompanying complications, my health history, my family health history, etc. All followed by a lengthy, but typical yearly Gyn exam, then blood work at the downstairs lab. This is my second pregnancy with this doctor and this office (last delivery was Dec. 2006), so I was surprised at all the history hoopla. I suppose I should be happy they are so thorough and professional. If I wasn't such a busy mom, I would be more appreciative.

I like the doctor very much, and he at least seems to like me. However, I secretly think he suspects I'm a nut case. I routinely decline every test except ultrasounds, despite my age. I even said no to that quad marker blood-test thing, even though, according to him, it is now much more accurate. I would never consider a follow-up amnio, due to the miscarriage risk, so I see no sense in getting worked up about possibly-inaccurate test results. My faith will carry me through anything, and my pregnancies are complicated enough already (increased migraines, horrible varicose veins, pregnancy-induced hypertension, sometimes preterm contractions.)

He is never argumentative, but it's clear he disagrees with my ignorance-is-bliss mindset. Ironically, I don't have this mindset by nature. I'm a worrier by nature - a fretter. And certainly I know tragic things happen to pregnant women. They've happened to me. But I know without a shadow of a doubt that I can endure anything, through Christ who strengthens me. He's never failed me. His comfort and grace are ever-present. I could lose my entire family tomorrow, and still praise his Holy Name. Don't ask me how I know this. I just do.

Anyhow, back to the doctor - I suspect the doctor has no faith, and he suspects I have no sense. Fair enough. Nevertheless, he seems to like me, or at least accept me, and I like that he listens and smiles and seems happy to see his patients. He doesn't condescend, even when he might disapprove.

I heard through the Ohio relatives who initially referred me to him that, over ten years ago, he lost his doctor wife to cancer, and was left to raise a toddler and a preschooler, on his own. He is now remarried, and while he is a warm person, there is something about him that hints of a broken heart. I suspect there's a wound that wasn't ever softened by a faith in God.

While I can witness through my blog, or through hand-written letters, I have been unequipped, thus far, to ever do it in person. When I meet a tragic figure, I wish I could reach out. If conversation were to turn to faith, or sadness, or spiritual need, I know I would be bold enough to talk about my faith. But such opportunities have never come up, and I lack the boldness to do what I call cold witnessing. My main spiritual gifts, according to all the inventories I've taken through churches, are faith, teaching, knowledge and discernment. Evangelism always comes out very low for me on these inventories. I can only hope that one of the blessings to come out of this very unexpected pregnancy, will be a clear, unmistakable opportunity to share my faith with someone, either in the MD office, the hospital, or maybe even the lab. I'm a shy but friendly person, who generally doesn't make first moves. The opportunity would have to hit me over the head, so to speak.

The doctor was obviously surprised to find me pregnant again. After all, I was forty when I had Emily, in 2006.

Doctor, upon entering - "Hi! How have you been? Congratulations!"

Doctor, seconds later, - "I thought he was getting a vasectomy?"

Me, smiling - "Well, we decided against that."

Doctor - "Okay, so this was a planned pregnancy?"

Me, looking guilty - "No, I wouldn't say that. We had sex on day 8 and I ovulated on day 14. We thought sperm only lived for five days max, when fertile mucous is present. But, in any case, we'll know better next time.

Doctor, not smiling - "Next time!?"

Me - smiling, but not responding

Doctor, now smiling - "So, are you okay with this?"

Me, with ever so slight hesitation - "Yes."

After that exchange, he asked if I had any questions or concerns. I commented that, though I hadn't gained much weight, my stomach was quite big already. I'm a 5' 3", 110-pound person, so on me this pouch really stands out. Even my husband agreed I'm bigger than normal for 12 weeks. He usually takes the most diplomatic route to such questions, bless his heart, but this time he just plain agreed with me - and kind of worriedly.

Doctor, smiling and joking - "Well, then I think its twins or triplets!"

Me, smiling but slightly worried - "Do you automatically check for two heartbeats?"

Doctor, serious now - "It's actually very hard to hear two heartbeats. I can check the size of your uterus to get some idea, though."

Later, during the exam, I ask if he agrees my belly seems large for date.

Doctor - "Yes, I think it does."

Me, now in a real panic - "Could it be just lax abdominal muscles, because of so many pregnancies??"

Doctor, amused - "It could, but hold on. Let me finish here and in just a second I'll check the size of your uterus."

Me, smiling, embarrassed, but still panicked - "Oh boy, I really don't want twins. Even though I'm sure they're a blessing."

Doctor, smiling in sympathy, after checking - "The uterus seems about 12 week size, so I think you're okay. The larger abdomen might just be a combination of lax muscles and some bloating."

I'm calm about the no-twin thing for now. But, I can tell you for certain that I feel this baby moving. It started three days ago, and I assumed it was gas bubbles or something. But today I felt a definite movement, that pressed outward against my stomach; my hand happened to be right there. I've even felt several while typing this tonight. I noticed, when reading about the signs of twin pregnancies, that earlier-than-normal movement is one of them. I won't have an ultrasound for another two months, but if he says at the next appointment, a month from now, that my uterus is still normal size-for-date, then I'll stop wondering for sure. Until then, I'm not entirely convinced.

But don't tell my husband. If we were told we were having twins, I would hyperventilate, then laugh at God's sense of humor. My husband, on the other hand, would hyperventilate, then cry. While he didn't want that vasectomy, he also didn't want more children. He is a man of God, but faith isn't one of his top spiritual gifts. He worries about how we'll support all these children, on one income. I wonder about that, too, but I know God's got it covered.


Ashley said...

Oh praise God!!! I'm so happy to hear your doctor found a heartbeat right away. I always looked big right away too, if that makes you feel any better. It's just tough on us girls with short torsos because our babies don't have anywhere to grow but out.

Jen(ni)/Fern said...


With my twins, we found out at 20 weeks. That was the first visit at which I had measured even the slightest bit bigger (came in at 21 weeks then) and they had never heard two heartbeats. I did feel what I was convinced was movement VERY early, though.

In any case, everything will be fine. But I'm awfully glad you had a good appointment and have a doctor who cares about you.