Y'all know by now that I love a good story, right? Well, have I got a story for you!
Our fifth ultrasound was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. yesterday. Of course, this was the morning that we had our first real snow of the season. We live in an area that doesn't see a lot of the white stuff, and drivers start freaking out at even a sugar dusting. So, we planned on leaving about 20 minutes early to accommodate.
An hour later, we'd barely made it from the first Interstate to the second. (It usually takes us 20 minutes to reach the second one.) I try to call the clinic to let them know we're going to be late. Their phones are down. It takes us about six tries to realize it's not OUR phones that aren't working.
Of course, after an hour on the road I had to pee. Badly. Remember how I said this pregnancy peeing is no joke? So I asked my husband to pull off at the first exit. He obliged. The exit ramp is covered in slippery snow. The car's brakes lock up. We're going slowly but it's clear that we're about to hit the big orange HVAC truck in front of us. Mr. Hope tries to go around it. No such luck. We sideswipe the truck in extreme slow mo.
The truck moves off the exit ramp and into a lane. We follow suit. There are horrible scraping noises and I realize that the accident has completely destroyed our front right tire. I tell Mr. Hope to stop driving. He keeps moving anyway. Finally, he reaches a place where he won't cause more traffic issues. We sit there, stunned.
I still have to pee.
I tell my husband I'm going to walk to find a bathroom. And then trudge maybe 1/3 of a mile in the snow until I find a little salon. It's closed, but as luck would have it, the woman who's there to open it has just pulled in as I am knocking on the door. I tell her what happened and she lets me use the bathroom. Then she says I can wait there until help comes. I thank her and say I need to get back to my husband.
I trudge back. By this time, my feet are freezing and slightly wet.
The police have been called. Mr. Hope has called the insurance company. When I get back, I dial AAA. They inform me that I have only purchased a Basic membership, so it will only cover the first three miles of towing. Each additional mile will be $4. I could've sworn I purchased the Plus membership. They tell me I did not.
I cancel the tow.
The cop arrives while I'm on the phone with AAA. He tells me he's calling a tow because we have to move our car. I'm all fine, whatever. I'm still trying to figure out how we're getting home and if we're going to be able to get our ultrasound.
Mr. Hope decides he's going to call AAA and play dumb and see if he can upgrade our membership. He wastes like 20 minutes on this endeavor. No go. Meanwhile, I'm grabbing a reusable grocery bag from the trunk and loading up all of our stuff - the GPS, the EZ Pass, car chargers, etc.
The tow guy that the cop called shows up and tells us he's taking the car to his collision center. But I don't want the car to go there. I want it to go to the awesome body shop that's less than a mile from our house. Tow guy says, "I'm not AAA."
The tow guy starts hooking up our car. I tell him that I don't authorize him to take it anywhere. He says, "I don't need you to. He did." Pointing to the cop.
This is when I kind of lose my shit.
I start screaming at the tow guy that he can't take my car, that my car needs to go to MY body shop, not his, and that I'm not getting into a truck with him.
The cop is talking to the guys we hit. I stomp through the snow over to him and ask him what's happening. I say, "You told me you were calling a tow truck. You didn't say I couldn't pick where the car was taken." He says, "I told you that you have to move your car." I say, "But I don't want my car taken there. I want to get home." He says that's not how this works. We're blocking a travel route, see. It's dangerous. I say, "Can't he just tow the car to that lot right there? So it's out of traffic?" Cop says, "He's not AAA."
I walk back to Mr. Hope and start crying. Like, wailing. Hysterical crying. I start talking about how I'm eight weeks pregnant and I need to get my ultrasound and I have to get home so I can get my ultrasound and why can't they help me?
Tow guy takes off with our car. Cop asks us if he can give us a ride to someplace warm. I tell him no. I walked somewhere once, I'll walk there again.
I head back to the salon. On the way I call my mom's best friend, who's been like a second mom to me for years. We're going to call her Bossy, but in the best possible way; she's a woman who gets shit done. I say, "There's been an accident. We're fine but stranded about 20 miles from home."
She says, "I'm in the shower. Give me ten minutes and I'll call you back."
So we wait in the salon. Mr. Hope calls the body shop and fills them in on what happened. They get the other collision center's number from him and tell us they'll take care of everything, including getting our car towed to their place AND rolling the cost of it into our insurance claim. (WE LOVE THIS BODY SHOP!)
Somewhere in all of this, I have called my clinic's sister location. Their phones ARE working. I tell them what's happened and they tell me they'll let my clinic know.
Eventually Bossy calls and gets some information from us as to where we are. I tell her about the missed ultrasound. She tells me to call my clinic and ask how late I can come. "If they'll take you, I'll drive you there."
So I call the clinic and miraculously get through on their previously broken phones. It's about 11:15 at this point. The ultrasound tech leaves at 12. We're only 12 miles from the clinic. They ask the ultrasound tech if she'll stay a little late to accommodate me. She says yes. Score!
Around 12, there's still no sign of Bossy. I call to see where she is. She's just gotten onto the first Interstate. She had a work emergency she had to take care of.
I call the clinic back but their phones are broken again. So I call the sister location. Turns out their ultrasound tech is there until 2:30. If we want to try to make it, they'll see me.
Bossy arrives at 12:30 and I let her know about the sister location. It's a half-hour drive from where we are. "Let's go," she says.
We get there and wait for about 20 minutes before being taken back for blood work. This is around 1:20; we haven't eaten since 8 a.m. I didn't pack snacks because hey, I didn't think we'd be stranded on the side of the road. I am starving. And nervous.
Finally, around 1:30, we have the ultrasound. There's Nugget, her little heart still beating. But I can tell the ultrasound tech is concerned. She takes more pictures than normal. More measurements. She measures the heartbeat. It's 130. Lower than the 144 it was last time. (Later, after I get home, I do some research that reveals low blood sugar can affect the heart rate. Even so, 130 is still in the normal range.)
There has been growth. Nugget measures 12.3. She was 7.3 at the last scan, so they would've liked to have seen her measure 13 or 14. But she's still in the acceptable range.
It's the sac that is not doing so great. No one ever tells us that the baby is measuring this week and that day, they just give us numbers. But you can see what things are measuring at on the screen. By the screen, Nugget is measuring at 7w4d - so, about five days behind. Not catastrophic. But the gestational sac is measuring at 6w4d - almost two full weeks behind. It's small, that's for sure. Nugget is kind of crammed in there. Here, see for yourself:
So I guess all of the water I've been pounding didn't help.
The ultrasound tech says, "Do you want a picture?"
Right there, my heart sinks to my feet. She wouldn't ask us that if she didn't think this was going to end badly.
Yes, we say. We want the picture.
It is still our baby, for now.
We are somber as I get dressed. We still need to talk to the doctor but we both know it isn't good.
It's another 10 minutes before a male voice calls us back. Oh, crap. I'd assumed we'd get to see sunny Dr. Colleague. Instead, we got saddled with Dr. Eyeore.
He is his usually gloomy self. He starts talking to us about how a small gestational sac and enlarged yolk sac typically indicate chromosomal abnormalities. He and his wife went through it. Twice. This, we suppose, is his attempt at bedside manner.
Sometimes a too-small gestational sac can catch up, he says. He's seen it happen. But, this isn't likely. At least not for us. I'm guessing he makes this characterization based on my poor hCG levels in conjunction with the too-small sac.
This pregnancy, he tells us, will declare itself in the next seven to ten days. He says this a few times, actually. I imagine Nugget becoming Foghorn Leghorn and saying, "Well, I do declare, I don't think I'll be sticking around heeyah."
There's nothing we can do, he assures us, just as every doctor has done every step of the way. "Whatever's happening is happening from the inside out," he says, "not outside in."
I ask about MaterniT21 Plus, a noninvasive blood test that identifies a wide range of chromosomal abnormalities. He's familiar with the test. If we make it to Week 10, he says, we can do the test then.
But clearly he doesn't think we're going to make it to Week 10. He doesn't say this outright, but he does say that he's going to send me home with a cup and that once I start spotting he thinks I should start peeing over an old colander so that I can catch whatever comes out. He says, "A baby this size is about the size of a marble, so you should be able to get that and bring it in for testing."
I say, "But Dr. Colleague said my progesterone is too high for that. She said if I miscarry, we'll find out at an ultrasound that the heart is stopped."
He switches gears. Now he's talking to us about giving me four pills to take that will soften the cervix and allow me to lose my marble in the colander.
I say, "But Dr. Smiles said that if I miscarried, I can do a D&C."
He says, "Oh, yeah, we can do that. We're good at that." <-- not a direct quote but pretty damn close.
I ask him to reassure Mr. Hope that it's a safe procedure. See, Mr. Hope lost a close relative after a botched D&C post-miscarriage. You can imagine how awesome that's made everything that's going on with me right now. Mr. Hope's #1 fear in life: losing me. This is not an exaggeration. He tells me this regularly.
Dr. Eyeore tells him that they're really good at the procedure. That they use plastic instruments so that there isn't any scarring. That other women come to them to have their botched D&Cs fixed all of the time.
Recovery time is minimal, he says. "Nothing in the vagina for a week."
He wants us to come back in a week and a half. Small problem; that's when the BFF and I will be on our birthday vacation. Can we come back in a week?
"Sure," he says. "Even better. If you come in that morning, we might be able to schedule you for the D&C that afternoon."
Since this now sounds like a 100% done deal, I say, "What are the odds that the pregnancy will pull through?"
He says, "I give you five to ten percent."
As I'm checking out, I happen to look down and see my hCG level from last Tuesday. It was 2,281, up from 1,591 four days prior. That's the biggest increase we've seen since the second beta. I have no idea why it picked up like that in Week 7. What does it mean? Is it a good thing?
Later, after I put the numbers into a doubling calculator, it shows a 40-something percent increase in four days - well under the 60% doctors like to see. The doubling time is a week. Much better than the 110 days I saw at one point, but still not enough.
I make the appointment for next Tuesday with Dr. Smiles. If Nugget is gone, I do not want to have the follow-up convo with Dr. Eyeore. I want MY doctor.
We get back into the car and head for home, stopping for food along the way. Mr. Hope and I have had no time to process. We've been with Bossy the entire time. Just before we leave the restaurant, she goes to use the bathroom. It's the first time we've had two minutes alone.
"What are you thinking?" I ask.
"That this sucks," he says.
Yep. That about sums it up.
Bossy takes us to the rental car place. We pick up my new car for the next two to three weeks. There's a warning light on. Low tire pressure. They can't fix it, they tell us. But if there's a guy on the lot he might be able to.
So Bossy tells me to follow her. The maintenance guys on a rival rental company's lot are out. She tells them some sob story and they agree to fill my tires for me. I told you, Bossy gets shit done!
There is more drama when I am trying to back out of the lot - it's very tight, I'm great at parallel parking but horrible at backing out of spaces - and then we head home. Only, we have to stop at the body shop first, because the collision center won't release my car without proof of registration.
I don't walk through the front door of my house until almost 5 p.m. Which is about the same time I'd be getting home if I'd worked a full day.
Mr. Hope and I are thoroughly drained. There are people who've been texting and emailing all day asking for updates. I can't tell the story a million times, so I write one email that goes out to a bunch of people. Then I curl up on the couch with Mr. Hope to drink hot tea and watch Netflix.
Later I did my normal Googling thing. I found a picture of a Week 9 ultrasound where the baby was way more crammed into the sac than Nugget is. I mean, you can still see some fluid around Nugget (for now). This baby was being squeezed tight by its sac. The doctor had prepared the woman for miscarriage and sent her off. Three weeks later, she hadn't miscarried and got another ultrasound. The sac had caught up, the baby was a little small but growing on target, and the doctor gave her the go-ahead to start telling people they were expecting. She went on to deliver a healthy son.
Now, I don't know about that woman's hCG levels. I'm guessing they weren't dismal like mine. But you know, it's something. And even Dr. Eyeore gave us a five to ten percent chance of making it. Nugget has pulled off so many miracles so far. I mean, the hCG had plateaued. Then it shot up almost 700 points in four days. That's something, right?
The thing is, I don't even know how I'm feeling. Like, I'm definitely not okay. But I'm not devastated either. Am I still in shock? In denial? It still doesn't feel real. I don't FEEL like I'm going to lose this baby. But I also don't feel like I'm going to have this baby either.
Another week of wait-and-see. Another week of hormone shots and suppositories and pills. Another week of wondering and Googling and performing my version of prayer, which is really a lot of me thinking, "Please, please, please let this baby make it. Please."
Still pregnant, though. At least for now.