Today was my first prenatal appointment and ultrasound. We walked up to the front desk to check in, where I was given a ton of paperwork on family health history to fill out (even though I had already completed the same forms on their website and with an intake nurse over the phone). My husband (DH) and I were sent to the waiting room to fill it all out, but before I could sit down, we were called back for the ultrasound. Since there was no wait time, I felt emotionally unprepared. I’m juggling my snack, my water bottle, my winter coat, my gloves, my hat, and the paperwork with all the clumsiness common to pregnant women as I’m trying to keep up with the sonographer.
I got into the chair and could not relax. So many of my friends have had miscarriages. So many women in the TTC group I was in had miscarriages – to the point where there were several miscarriage announcements per day. So many women in the mom’s group I’m now in report their miscarriages and still births. After months of TTC, I felt like it was finally my turn to be pregnant, and after watching so many suffer miscarriage, I was worried it was “my turn” to miscarry.
The sonography room had a large flat-screen on the wall facing the chair so that my husband and I could watch. The instant the ultrasound wand touched my belly, the unmistakable shape of a baby appeared on the screen. The baby was laying on his/her back, cradled perfectly, with his/her arms and legs sticking straight up, knees slightly bent. That little image was the most adorable thing I have seen in my life.
Immediately (finally) this all felt real. We have a baby. I am pregnant. This is incredible.
I was still holding my breath until the sonographer pointed out the blinking speck on the image of the baby and said, “That’s the heartbeat. Your baby’s heart is beating 180 beats per minute. Perfectly healthy.”
Then the tears spilled over. And over and over and over. I was so relieved and so happy and so excited. Even DH was tearing up.
It was also confirmed that my stage in pregnancy is exactly spot on. Today is nine weeks, and my estimated due date (EDD) is still September 25th.
I got myself cleaned up, and we were given a black and white printout of the ultrasound, then sent back to the waiting room to complete paperwork.
Next, I was called to meet with my nurse and go through an interview. (I was under the impression I was meeting my midwife, but I was meeting with a nurse today and with my midwife in two weeks. Oops!) We went through family health history, genetic screening information (no decisions on that yet), Vitamin D deficiency (since it is a big problem for pregnant women even with prenatals), what fish I should and shouldn’t eat, foods that can cause Listeriosis, seatbelt safety, prenatal and childbirth class information, exercise, postpartum depression, and recommended vaccinations (no decisions on that yet, either).
Once that was all covered, we talked about my Zoloft prescription. My dose was doubled last year when I wasn’t handling job stress very well. I have been wanting to go back to my original dose – especially now that I am pregnant. I have talked with three doctors about Zoloft during pregnancy, and while Zoloft is a Category C medication for pregnancy (meaning negative results have been seen in animal studies, but not enough human studies have been done to reach a conclusion), it is sometimes more dangerous to stop taking Zoloft (or other antidepressants/anti-anxiety medications) because if the body is stressed, it will create cortisol, a stress hormone. In some cases, cortisol is more dangerous than medication. Because my depression/anxiety is so severe, and because Zoloft is one of the most recommended anitdepressants for pregnancy, I will be staying on it. The nurse informed me today that serotonin (which Zoloft helps increase and direct) drops during pregnancy and can cause depression. Because I don’t want to eat, don’t want to get out of bed, and become suicidal when I am not on Zoloft, I clearly do not have a choice but to stay on it. However, I have been given the green light to return to my original dose (half of what I am on now) for a two week trial. We will reassess my mental health at my next appointment with my midwife.
Finally, we talked about morning sickness and vomiting. This has worried me so much the past four weeks. When I’m not vomiting, I am dry-heaving. When I put anything in my mouth – food, liquid, my toothbrush – I immediately gag. I sob through all my meals. Several people have said, “Such-and-such helped me” or “Such-and-such will help,” but most home remedies have not only not helped, but made things worse. Ginger is a terrible, terrible idea for me. Eating saltines before getting out of bed is a recipe for disaster. Gingerale and Coca-cola makes me feel worse. Forcing myself to eat little bits here and there despite gagging only increases gagging and feelings of hopelessness. I’d rather starve. Peppermint helps for only a few minutes, and too much makes me feel worse. Preggie Pops candies help wonderfully, but only for 30-60 minutes, and they are ridiculously expensive. The only things that have helped are two prescription medications I got from the ER. Zofran, I can no longer take because the side effects were so severe, which is unfortunate because it is a Category B. Phenergan helps me so, so much, but it is a Category C, and since I am already taking Zoloft, I worry about taking yet another Category C medication.
My nurse agreed that my morning sickness and vomiting are severe – especially when I weighed in and lost weight instead of gaining. So she said to skip spending so much money on Preggie pops and buy Vitamin B6 and sour Jolly Ranchers instead. Since prenatals are making my morning sickness worse, I am only supposed to take a Flintstones vitamin and some extra folic acid.
Next, she gave me free samples of the prescription medication Diclegis which is a Category A drug! I am supposed to take two at night, and if I don’t get better, then two at night and one in the morning. I am so relieved that I might have a remedy that works and that I wasn’t told to suffer through it, that I literally cried. I have wanted a child of my own so desperately, but the vomiting and gagging have almost made me regret getting pregnant. I hate even admitting that.
One thing this pregnancy has taught me: there is more than one myth about morning sickness. I knew that morning sickness can strike at any time of day and can last all day. The saying that morning sickness is only a first-trimester symptom is also a myth. While many pregnant women find relief in the second trimester, others only find that it comes back in the third trimester, and others have it throughout their pregnancy. I have friends who were diagnosed with hyperemesis and required several hospitalization stays and even a picc line for prescription anti-nausea injections and hydration fluids. Morning sickness can be serious and long-lasting. So while I hope mine goes away once this month passes and I enter the second trimester, I am preparing for the worst. I’d rather be prepared than disappointed.
Next, we were sent to the lab for blood work. I forget what all is on the extensive list of things they are testing for, but it surprisingly only required four vials of blood. Thankfully, needles don’t bother me, and I have awesome veins that never give nurses trouble. I was excited because the nurse used a butterfly needle. I’m a nerd.
Once my appointment was over, DH and I decided to celebrate our healthy little baby by going out to lunch at Chick-fil-a. I had a delicious vanilla milkshake.
I am so happy about our healthy little baby (for now affectionately called Baby L), and I am so happy that there are some options out there to help me get healthy. I’m walking on sunshine. I want to shout and laugh loud enough for the whole world to hear. My heart is so full, and God is so good.