Or, why you must ALWAYS advocate for yourself and your health.
I’ve received a lot of comments and emails thanking me for being so honest and detailed about my pregnancy. I’m so glad I am able to be a resource for women, even those who have never been pregnant. During my pregnancy I’ve done a lot of reading and research, and if I can be one more stop where you find answers, that’s great. That being said, I wanted to be very honest about the beginnings of my pregnancy, in case anyone finds themselves in a similar situation.
I found out I was pregnant very early on — just 10 days after I ovulated and before I even missed my period. We were overjoyed! I called my doctor immediately and set up some prenatal appointments. My first ultrasound was scheduled for when I was eight weeks along (eight weeks?! But I want to see my baby now!), and I looked forward to that day so very much.
In the meantime, I hit the books. I read as much as I could about early pregnancy including all types of symptoms that I could experience.
So at five weeks when I started spotting, I knew that it was common in early pregnancy.
However, that did not stop me from freaking out. Because common or not, no woman wants to see any blood when she’s pregnant. It’s scary. And especially this early in my pregnancy, if blood did mean an early miscarriage, there would have been nothing that could have been done to save the pregnancy. Here’s the TMI detail for you — the spotting was dark brown, not red, which usually indicates “old” blood. Old blood, in this case, would be better than new, because it could be leftover menstrual blood, or something non-threatening to the pregnancy.
The spotting happened on a Saturday, so when I called my doctor’s office I spoke to the on-call doctor. We’ll call him Doctor X. He was very reassuring and explained to me what I already knew, that so many women experience this, and it’s probably fine. He even said that he expected at least five more calls after me of women in the same situation, that’s how common it is. But to be on the safe side, he wanted me to come in for an ultrasound on Monday.
I was a wreck all weekend. When Monday finally arrived, the spotting was almost gone, but not quite. I knew from all my reading that at this point — just 5 weeks and 4 days into my pregnancy — the ultrasound wasn’t going to show a fetus, because it would just be too small. What we would probably see is the yolk sac — a sac that nourishes the fetus until the circulatory system develops. I was OK with that because I knew what to expect. The ultrasound tech would be looking for signs of bleeding, mostly.
We went to the ultrasound and saw exactly what we were expecting. A yolk sac, confirming yes, I was pregnant. The tech informed us that there was no sign of bleeding elsewhere, and that we would probably come back sooner rather than later for a follow-up ultrasound, to make sure the fetus was growing.
I left feeling so much better and lighthearted.
An hour later, as I was pulling into the parking lot of Panera to pick up lunch, Doctor X called me to go over the results of the ultrasound. I will never, ever, forget the ominous tone in his voice.
“I’ve looked over the results of your scan and I’m sorry to tell you, but I don’t see a fetus…”
I’m not really sure how I managed to park the car, but I did. I sat speechless for a moment, my mind swimming in a thousand different directions before I managed to squeak out, “but, I knew you wouldn’t. I’m not even six weeks yet.”
Doctor X went on to say that I most likely was experiencing a Blighted Ovum pregnancy — “when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, but the embryo does not develop. Cells develop to form the pregnancy sac, but not the embryo itself.” (Source)
“I’m so sorry,” he said.
Fighting back the tears, I choked out, “With all due respect, Doctor X, I’m not ready to give up on this pregnancy yet.”
That’s when he changed his tune, explaining that no, no, no, I’m an OB and I would never give up on a pregnancy.
So that’s when I asked him when I should schedule my next ultrasound. Because I had done my research, I knew I was still so early and the chances of seeing a fetus were less than slim. I can’t explain it, but I knew I hadn’t lost my baby. I knew I was pregnant. And I was going to see that fetus.
“Oh,” he replied. “I hadn’t even thought about that.”
I was furious. He hadn’t THOUGHT about my next ultrasound? He had already dismissed my pregnancy as not viable and hadn’t THOUGHT ABOUT THAT?
He suggested that I might as well go Friday, so that I didn’t have to wait the weekend anxiously. We said our goodbyes, and I drove home in tears to talk to Michael. Michael, who as always, talked me off the ledge and said no, he’s wrong. Call your doctor.
And so I did. I called MY doctor, who I love, and spoke to her about the whole situation. She listened to all my concerns and said that while yes, there was the small chance that I could have a blighted ovum, I also had an extremely early ultrasound, one that she never would have recommended. Because of my reading (again), I asked if it would be OK to push back my second ultrasound until I was in the middle of my sixth week, giving my little baby enough time to show itself on the screen. She agreed 100 percent.
By my scheduled appointment, the spotting was long gone and I held my breath and Michael’s hand as the tech began the ultrasound.
And there was Baby. A perfect little lima bean with a flashing center — its heartbeat. I have never been more happy in my entire life.
As she poked around some more, it was determined that I had a small cyst on my right ovary. Totally common, and probably the ovary that released the egg that became Baby. It’s common for those cysts to cause a little spotting as they disappear, so there you go.
After a follow-up conversation with my doctor, I made a request not to see Doctor X again. My request has been granted and I have only seen two women who are fabulous doctors.
Since that appointment, we’ve heard the heartbeat multiple times, and This Little Baby is dancing away with little kicks here and there. And on Thursday, when we have our next ultrasound, I will probably cry in happiness when I see a little person.
If you take away anything from my story, I hope it’s that you should always advocate for yourself and your health. Do research, get second opinions. And don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t know your body. Because I knew mine.