I’d be lying if I said that I’m never scared anymore that I’ll miscarry. I know that in the second trimester chances of miscarriage go way, way down, but that first miscarriage stays with me. And though most of the time I’m able to feel excited about being pregnant and confident about the plans we’re making regarding the eventual birth of this little one, there are still some moments where I don’t quite trust that this is actually going to happen.
Last night was one such moment. We had a friend over for dinner. I made Thai noodles with vegetables. She brought a salad. Nico played with her animals and dolls in her bed for an hour while we talked over dinner. It was really nice.
Then our friend left, Marta put Nico down to sleep, and I went to bed to rest. I had a headache and wasn’t feeling great, but that’s been pretty par for the course for this pregnancy. I feel great in the mornings and afternoons, and then less so in the evenings.
Just as Marta and I were getting ready to go to sleep, though, I started to feel sick. And by sick I don’t mean normal pregnancy nausea. I mean I-ate-something-bad sick. I tried to ignore it, but soon it was pretty obvious I was going to get sick. I ran to the bathroom and, as I was throwing up, my first thought was: I have food poisoning and it’s going to kill this baby.
Drastic, I know. But that’s what I mean about the fear of miscarriage sticking with me.
Marta followed me to the bathroom and after I’d thrown up more, and clearly couldn’t keep water down, we decided to go to the emergency room. We called another good friend, who came over to be here with Nico while she slept and then we both got dressed and drove to the ER.
We got there around 11 p.m. and didn’t leave until 2 a.m. The first hour or so, I sat covered in blankets (why are ERs so cold?) throwing up into a plastic blue bag that had lines on it to measure the quantity of vomit collected. That fact alone made me want to throw up more. After a while a dude named Nolan, who had checked us in and who had joked that my cat allergy shouldn’t be a problem because the hospital no longer provided its “kitten treatment,” escorted us to a room, where after another half hour we finally saw a doctor.
He ordered an IV and anti-nausea medicine, and a doppler to make sure the baby was OK. The first two were what I knew would help me. The last was what I feared. I didn’t want them to do the Doppler because I was too afraid that they would and that we’d find out there was no heartbeat. Just like we did last time.
I know these fears are illogical, but so the mind works, or at least this mind.
Two nurses came in with the Doppler a little while later and the first warned me that they’re not maternity nurses and so not to freak out if they couldn’t find the heartbeat at first. And so I tried not to freak out when the nurse kept searching my belly and couldn’t find a heartbeat. Until about five minutes had passed and she still couldn’t find the heartbeat. That’s when I started to cry. And I mean really cry. I was sure it was all happening again.
Lucky for me, the nurse was sweet. She looked at me and said, “Don’t tell anyone, but I’m going to go get the ultrasound machine. We’ll find it. Don’t you worry.”
She rolled in a couple minutes with the machine. She searched my belly. And in two seconds there was our little fetus. Moving around. Tossing and turning and sticking out her arms and changing positions every couple seconds. Hearing a heartbeat no seemed irrelevant. I stopped crying and watched her. We all did.
My friend, the one who watched Nico while we were gone, later said, “Babies are strong” when we told her everything was OK with the baby. And I realized she’s right. Yes, that little life is fragile at first, but once you get to this point–I’m 16 weeks pregnant now–they really are pretty sturdy. They have the placenta to keep them alive. Their brain has begun to regulate their heart. They can move around and grab at things. They are, in other words, most likely going to live.
And I need to remember that on nights like last night. I need to remember that chances are everything will turn out just fine.
I also need to take a nap. I’m exhausted.