Ava’s Story, Part I

Gender Reveal Painting for Ava

I found out I was pregnant two days after Father’s Day. I was upset I hadn’t been able to get those two pink lines to show up in time for a cute Happy Father’s Day announcement to my husband. I spent that Sunday angry cleaning because after another 5 months of trying after an early miscarriage, I was sure I wasn’t pregnant yet again. When those two pink lines finally showed up, I was over the moon, instantly in love with the little life inside me. I was very hesitant to share the news because after the earlier loss, I didn’t trust that I would make it to 12 weeks. In my mind, after 12 weeks I was safe. I was generally in good health, and according to the doctor, there was no reason to think I wouldn’t have a healthy baby. When I had my miscarriage, there was never a heartbeat, so when we went in to the 8 week ultrasound to confirm the heartbeat, and there was that beautiful little, flickering marshmallow on the screen, I caved and let my husband share the news with his family. After all, it was his 30th birthday, and our hearts were bursting.

I had a relatively uneventful pregnancy up until 24 weeks. I had morning sickness the first 14 weeks that was pretty much constant all day long, but not severe enough that I was actually throwing up much. I felt lucky that I never had to run to the bathroom at work (thank goodness for preggy pops!) The only complaints I had that rose to the level of asking the doctor about were my sciatic nerve/ SI joint pain (I saw a chiropractor 2-3 times a week for a period of time), and the sole of left foot itched like crazy. The itching stumped my doctor who decided to switched my prenatal to see if that helped. The itching decreased some, but was still present until about 24 weeks. I figured if that was my biggest complaint, I was doing great.

At the 18 week anatomy scan, we had the ultrasound tech write down the gender and slip the picture into an envelope for our little gender reveal video we had planned for later that day. The ultrasound tech was training a student, so they went slowly and explained each measurement and body part in detail. Everything looked perfect! When the student measured my fluid, it calculated the fluid as a low number, so the tech had her remeasure “because visually it looks good,” and got a higher number that wouldn’t alert the doctor. We didn’t think much of it at the time, but now that moment sticks out like a splinter. We know it wouldn’t have changed the outcome, but, damn, it hurts to know we could have been trying SOMETHING to intervene. Anyway, the tech said I had “good tissue” and invited me back for a free ultrasound for training purposes. Of course I said yes! Free pictures of my sweet Ava? Yes, please!

The day of the free ultrasound I was exactly 24 weeks. I woke up that morning and celebrated the fact we had made it to viability. I remember the relief knowing that if something happened, my Ava had a chance. I was practically walking on air all day; I loved being pregnant – my baby bump, the excuse to snack all day, the excitement for the future, and now that I had reached the magically 24 weeks viability milestone, I had a new confidence. The ultrasound was late in the afternoon, and my husband had to stay at work since he had just started a new job. I went in telling the tech all about the gender reveal and feeling giddy at getting to see my Ava again. It was immediate when Ava came on the screen that my heart went into my throat, my stomach knotted, and my mind started racing. The tech went straight to the heart and it was strong, but on the screen, there was no black space. Wasn’t there supposed to be a black bubble with Ava inside? Why was there no bubble? Why did she looked so squished inside of me? The student was flying solo while the regular tech read a magazine in the corner. She went to Ava’s face and pointed out Ava’s eyes and mouth. She then went around, searching, silent. After what felt like forever in silence, the tech in the corner looked up and asked if she needed help. The student said she needed help finding the feet. The tech came over and immediately asked when my last ultrasound was and if it was normal. She then took over and tried to measure the amniotic fluid and couldn’t find enough to measure. She said they were going to get my file and left the room. I was in full freak out mode by then, and texted Ryan, frantically asking him to leave work and come right away. After another eternity passed, the tech and student came back and said that I needed to go home and wait for the doctor to call. I, being a typically calm and appeasing person, asked sarcastically, and probably quite rudely, “You found something wrong with my baby, and I have to just go home?” They said, “Yes we tried to call the doctor, but couldn’t get a hold of her. You’ll just need to go home and wait for her to get back to you.”

“No,” I grabbed my purse and all but ran out. I went straight to the doctors office; I’m sure I looked frantic and on the brink of hysterical sobbing. I demanded to see a doctor, any doctor, and explained what just happened to the poor, stunned receptionist. Thankfully, they obliged and got me in quickly to see a nurse. After sobbing to the nurse about what just happened, a doctor came in and said he spoke to the ultrasound tech and had arranged for me to go to the hospital in the closest city. He gave me a hug and wished me well before sending my husband and me on our way without any more of a clue what was happening to me and Ava. Under what circumstances do doctors hug patients? Not good ones, that is for sure.

Ava’s Story: Part II

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