beating heart baby

[ Written on November 17, 2008] Today, Rhiannon and I had our second prenatal doctor appointment after work, and when I say that "we" had it, I mean I sat in a chair in the corner and tried my best to look away while the doctor did a brief pelvic exam.  I'm still not sure how I'm going to get to sleep tonight.  To any males out there - I encourage you to be supportive during pregnancy.  Go to the exams.  Ask the dumb "guy" questions.  But when the doctor asks the female of the relationship to remove clothing from the waist down, feel free to remove yourself from the room.

Now I didn't get to see this one coming.  Rhiannon was at the appointment before I was.  We were supposed to talk about the options for the tests that can be performed during the first trimester.  That's what I was going for.  I told the nice receptionist at the front desk who I was there for and she lead me back to the exam room and I walked right into it.  Sigh.

As far as we could tell, things have progressing exactly as they should so far. Rhiannon hasn't experienced intense nausea more than a few times at most - generally, she has just been mildly uncomfortable.  She has been pretty tired and takes naps a lot.  I guess this is all pretty standard operating procedure, and, although we don't have any real first hand knowledge about how everything is suppose to happen, the signs have generally agreed with what the books I'm reading are suggesting.

Still, Rhiannon recently found out one of her friends had recently had some issues with a pregnancy in the early stages, and we thought an ultrasound would be a good thing to have done.  We were told during her exam that we might not be able to hear a heartbeat until as late as 12 weeks along (and we just finished week 8), but we were just looking for the reassurance that everything was fine.

One of the ways that I know I like the doctor we have is Rhiannon simply explained what happened to her friend and said she was a little paranoid.  Rather than telling her she was a paranoid pregnant woman, the doctor called the ultrasound clinic and made up a reason why we needed to get one done right then.  Not tomorrow, not come back next week, but do it now thank you very much.

Luckily, the family practice doctor that we are seeing is located right in a hospital. We left the clinic, stopped by an office where Rhiannon had some blood drawn for a few prenatal tests, and walked to the radiology wing where the ultrasound would be done.

The only experience I have with ultrasounds has been on TV.  For pregnant people with large bellies, they rub some gel on and presto - fuzzy grey picture of baby to put on fridge.  For other procedures on medical dramas, it's all pretty much the same story; clear gel + magic rubbing thingy = picture of insides.  That was what we were looking for.

When a woman is only 8 weeks pregnant, they need to get the ultrasound equipment as close to the baby as possible.  Neither Rhiannon nor I was aware of this fact.  Well, the ultrasound still involved clear gel and a magic wand type instrument, but the scanning portion itself wasn't exactly visible.  Apparently, during a pregnancy, this area of a woman's body just sort of becomes public property to any remotely medical person.

The ultrasound tech was good - she told us what we were seeing on the fuzzy gray screen.  She found the gestational sac and a small bean looking thing that apparently is our baby.  This was a whole new level of real.  We had the home pregnancy test.  We had the doctor pregnancy test and the first doctor visit.  Rhiannon has been experiencing symptoms that correspond to everything the pregnancy books have said might be possible.

But this was real.  It was a picture on the screen of a real baby (or whatever passes for the beginnings of baby at about 6 weeks of development).  And then, the tech moved the probe just a little bit, turned a dial, and the area in the middle of the little bean on the screen started to oscillate back and forth between white and black.

The baby's heartbeat.  About 178 beats per minute.

So far, so good.  The tech even commented that with how good everything looked, she wasn't even sure why the doctor needed and ultrasound done right away.

Rhiannon has two heartbeats going on inside of her right now - one of her own, and one of the little thing that's taking her energy.  And we couldn't be happier about it.