Dr. Braverman, Helper Embryos & Why I’m Never Googling Again

First of all, thank for all of the awesome comments on my last post. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I sure do love you guys.

The morning of the Dr. Braverman appointment started off kind of disgustingly. I typically leave a banana by my bed and take bites throughout the night if I wake up feeling nauseous. That morning I woke up and realized the banana I had been eating was covered in ants. I ate ants, you guys. Probably lots of them. Gag.

After de-anting myself, we drove from Tim’s parents’ house to Dr. Braverman’s office. I fully expected to wait a long time, since I had read in reviews that the wait times were out of control. However, we were seen right away. Dr. B. came in wearing a pink polo shirt and got right to business. The ultrasound screen was tilted away from me, so I couldn’t see what he was looking at. He immediately said, “You have one viable pregnancy with a heartbeat and another sac.” The heart rate of baby A was 115 bpm. Doc B. said 90 – 110 was normal, so 115 was great. Then he let us listen to the heartbeat. It was freaking awesome. He said that Baby B could still develop a heartbeat because it had a fetal pole, and the sac looked normal and not collapsed. He gave it a “better than 50% chance” of seeing a heartbeat at our next ultrasound. He then looked at blood flow to my uterus and said that looked good as well. I was expecting to not be wowed by his personality. The one time we Skyped with him, he was short and not super personable. I don’t actually care at all if he’s personable because he knows his stuff, and that’s what matters. That said, I liked him a lot better after meeting him. He seemed gentler somehow. All in all, it was a great visit. If fingers-crossed-all-goes-well, I will see him again at 10 weeks. And oh yeah, he told me the burning I’m experiencing is “just pregnancy,” so that made me feel better..

All was well. And then I had to go and ruin it. On Tuesday, I had the brilliant idea to google “normal fetal heart rate 6 weeks 4 days.” Whhhhhy did I do that to myself? WHY?! I found lots of people whose babies had higher heart rates that 115. And then I found this terrifying study that said 110-119 bpm between 6.3 and 7 weeks was “borderline” and had a “slightly elevated risk of fetal demise.” Then I asked my OB friend and she gave me a range of normal, and 115 was at the bottom of the range. So then I was just a wreck. And completely pissed at myself for googling in the first place. I emailed Dr. B in a panic and he wrote back right away saying 115 is a very common heart rate in his practice for that stage in the pregnancy. After reading his kind email, I felt better, but not as much as I should have. Like, ok, one of the world’s leading miscarriage specialists said it was fine, so it’s probably fine. Still, I was ridiculously nervous for my next ultrasound on Friday.

Finally, after about six years, Friday arrived. I barely slept the night before. But all was well. Baby A’s heart rate had gone up to 132 bpm, solidly in the normal range. I can’t even tell you how relieved I was. And then I vowed never to google again.

Baby B now had a “flickering” of a heartbeat. A faint flickering is obviously not great for 7 weeks, though. The doctor gave the twin a 10 -15% chance of making it. I asked what the chances of it being genetically normal if he or she did make it, and the doctor immediately started talking about CVS and selective reduction. Whoa, whoa, whoaaaaaaa. Slow down there, buddy. I am NOT ready to think about any of that scary stuff. Eesh.

Anyway, we are still in limbo with baby B. My greatest wish at this point is that we have a clear resolution one way or the other soon. Our doctor said that in animal science you see a lot of “helper embryos,” These are basically embryos that exist for the sole purpose of assisting the stronger embryo, and when their job is done, they pass on. He suspects that Baby B is a helper embryo. This is a really sweet thought and makes me feel better about the whole thing.

I talk to both of my babies every day. I tell Baby A I am thankful he or she is growing big and strong. I tell Baby B that I love him or her no matter what happens. If he or she decides to keep growing and turns into a healthy baby, well then that is just amazing. And if he or she is just there to help out a sibling, then thank you from the bottom of my heart. And once he or she is done helping, it’s ok to go.

And that’s about all there is to tell at this point. Next ultrasound is Friday. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I Will Not Let Fear Win

Hi, guys. I’m sorry about the whole disappearing act. It’s been a weird couple of weeks.

First of all, let me clear the air and tell you that I’m pregnant! My first beta was 910 (for those of you that geek out on this stuff like me). I didn’t have another beta for five days, and I told them only to let me know if there was a problem. I did not want to spend needless hours analyzing or worrying about anything, so I don’t have a second number to report.

One of the reasons I didn’t let you know before now is that my blog is not anonymous, and I definitely felt too fragile to announce it to, like, anyone I know who may be reading. I’m still not ready to announce it to the General World and won’t be for a long while, so if you know me in real life, please keep it on the low. Thanks, love you!

The other reason is fear.

I had a few days to just be like, “yay!” And then things started getting weird. First there was our 5 weeks ultrasound. They saw one gestational sac with a yolk sac. And one gestational sac that was measuring two days behind with nothing in it. The doctor said it could go either way at this point. The smaller sac could grow, or it wouldn’t develop and would be reabsorbed into my body. Ok. I was absolutely thrilled that the one looked as it should, but I was also worried about the other one. Eventually, I made my peace and decided that things would work out as they were meant to. In great news, both embryos implanted exactly where they were meant to in my uterus this time. Phew.

Then two days, later I started bleeding. My doctor warned me that I might have some brown spotting because the twins are stacked on top of each other like sardines. “It’s like a construction zone in there,” he said. But this was not brown, it was bright red. It wasn’t a ton, but certainly enough to freak me out. I think Tim and I were both having flashbacks to my last pregnancy. I figured I had a blood clot in my uterus, just like last time. Tim and I were both angry. I threw the picture of my embryos across the room (sorry, embryos, I still feel bad about that). I went to bed expecting to wake up in the middle of the night soaked in blood. It didn’t happen, but I still had some light bleeding in the morning. I called my clinic and they told me to come in.

I went in fully expecting them to tell me that I was at least losing the smaller twin. But no. The smaller twin had grown and now had a yolk sac. They didn’t see a blood clot in my uterus. They said the bleeding could be because my progesterone was low. People, my progesterone was 6.5. I’m pretty sure your period starts when your progesterone drops below 5. The thing about this is that my clinic knew about this number on Friday, but did nothing about it. Only after the bleeding did they up my dose. I was furious. My number is up to 23 now, by the way, after the dose increase, so we are good there. Anyway, the second reason they gave was that the babies could just be burrowing in and irritating everything. The doctor put me on bed rest for five days, told me to work from home and sent me on my way.

I continued to spot until yesterday. I went to bed every night wondering if I would wake up covered in blood. I will probably wonder that tonight as well, and I don’t even know for how long. To say this week has been hard has been an understatement. Being alone in my house all day, with nothing to do but think, did a number on me. Whenever I would do something simple like go downstairs and heat up my lunch, the spotting would start again. I was terrified to move. I was terrified to go to the bathroom. I was terrified to do anything.

Also, during the last two weeks, I developed what I thought was a UTI. I went to Urgent Care, they agreed probably a UTI. I took the full course of antibiotics and then they called to tell me that my culture actually came back from the lab negative. I am having an intense burning pain in my pelvis. It’s so bad that it sometimes keeps me awake. I followed up with my GP. She said maybe it’s bacterial vaginosis. She suggested just treating it in case it is, but that doesn’t sit well with me. I’m seeing doctor Braverman in two days, so I will ask him to advise me then. Hopefully he’ll have some insight. I’m scared that whatever it is triggering my immune response and will harm my babies. You see a common theme here?

Fear.

Yesterday I went back to my clinic for a follow-up ultrasound. I was 6 weeks 1 day. The tech first checked out what I assume was the smaller twin. There was a yolk sac still and what she said looked like the beginning of a fetal pole. But no heartbeat. She said, “We’ll just have to see what happens with that one.” My heart sank.

Then she zoomed in on the other sac, and there it was: a glorious heartbeat. A heartbeat! You guys, I have never let out a bigger sigh of relief in my life. I cried. The heartbeat couldn’t be measured yet, but she said that’s normal for this early.

Basically, our smaller embryo has a 50/50 shot at pulling through. The nurse said you can start seeing the heartbeat anywhere from day 29 to day 33. I was there on day 30. So it could just need another day or two. Or it could stop developing. It’s been two days behind the entire time, so I’m choosing to believe right now that it is a fighter and it just needs those two days to catch up.

My wise and amazing friend said to me yesterday that if that second soul is meant to join our family, he or she will continue to grow. And if not, I still have one healthy baby with a heartbeat, and I will have a slightly easier pregnancy without the risks of a twin pregnancy. I love both of my babies already, so one not making it will definitely be a blow. But she is right. Whatever is meant to be, will be. I want whatever outcome leads to a healthy pregnancy and delivery, and I’m going to leave it right there. The universe can work out the rest.

On Monday, we travel to New York to meet Dr. Braverman for the first time. He will do an ultrasound and look at blood flow to the uterus. I will be 6 weeks and 4 days at that time, so if the smaller twin’s heart is going to beat, it will have started by then. At least we won’t have to wait very long for answers.

I am beyond grateful to be pregnant. Beyond. I am thrilled we saw a heartbeat. I still can hardly believe it. But I’m scared. So scared. Every second of every day. Will I bleed again? Do I have some weird pelvic infection that’s hurting my baby/ies? Will the smaller twin make it? Will we go to our ultrasound on Monday and find out we lost everything? I’ve been so scared that I couldn’t even bring myself to blog about it. I’ve been hiding. Cowering, really.

But I refuse to keep doing this to myself. I don’t want to deprive myself of the joy of being pregnant. So I am determined to climb my way out of this one.

After our first ultrasound I said to Tim. “I don’t even know how to feel.”

Tim said, “You should feel happy. All our dreams are coming true.”

And that right there is what I need to focus on. One day at a time.

I can do this.