The IVF nurse advised that I stay on all my medications and progesterone shots until we could do an ultrasound to confirm on Wednesday — two days away. The wait was necessary — the embryo was so miniscule, it would be invisible on ultrasound until at least Wednesday morning. By then, I would have been 5 weeks and 4 days along.
After an hour of heavy bleeding and cramping Monday, the bright red bleeding stopped. The brown spotting continued off and on, but hours would pass with nothing at all. When Wednesday afternoon arrived, I’d had very little spotting that day, just some slight pain on my left side.
I went into the ultrasound, husband by my side as I clutched his hand, expecting them to confirm my miscarriage. A small part of my brain clung to hope, thinking of Peanut and her unlikely triumph over the odds. A more reasonable, and much larger, part of my heart was prepared for the worst news.
The ultrasound began and a black, football-shaped dot appeared on screen. The tech explained that it was a gestational sac. My heart leapt.
She kept zooming in. Within the gestational sac there was a yolk sac, she said.
My heart leapt again. I looked at my husband, who stared at the monitor, confused. I knew what it meant, but he was just catching up. Finally he got it. I was still pregnant.
We began peppering her with questions. Is everything measuring right on schedule? Is there a fetal pole? (That was my question; my husband doesn’t know what a fetal pole is.) How often does bleeding happen and there’s still is a baby there?
She answered what she could but deferred the tough questions to the doctor, who we’d meet shortly.
Finally, she zoomed in and after a bit of wiggling, found a fetal pole. A teeny-weeny bit of light on the screen, measuring 5 weeks and 4 days. Exactly on schedule.
My mind couldn’t wrap itself around the news. I was still pregnant. Everything looked fine.
The tech also spotted a subchorionic hematoma — the source of the bleeding. It’s a blood clot, or gathering of blood, between the uterine wall and the membranes of the placenta. It happens in about 3.1% of pregnancies (there I go being in the tiny part of the statistic again…seriously, wtf?!), but actually with IVF, it happens in about 30% of pregnancies (thanks for the warning there, doc… would have been nice to know).
SCHs can bleed off and on the entire pregnancy. Each time it bleeds, I’ll have cramping, and I’ll hope to god the cramps don’t expel my little Squeak. They can also cause miscarriages if they make the placenta separate from the uterus. Most of them reabsorb into the mother’s body on their own. There’s no treatment.
The doctor later explained that one can hemorrhage and still have a viable pregnancy. “A lot of bleeding,” she emphasized. “You’d be surprised.”
That was handy information to have tonight around 6pm, when the bleeding started up again. I’d been romping around in the basement with Peanut, playing crawl-tag with her. Cramps, though not as severe, came with it. I laid down for an hour or so, and it stopped after a bit.
Now that I’ve learned a little more about SCH, I’ll be taking it easier physically: picking up Peanut less (though that won’t go over well with her), staying away from volleyball, and taking the elevator instead of the stairs for a few weeks.
Emotionally, I’m incredibly relieved. But still terrified — we have a precarious hold on this pregnancy, and it could be torn away at any moment. I feel incredibly lucky that I haven’t miscarried, but also a little guilty that I am still pregnant when so many of my friends were not so lucky. I had already begun to mourn this pregnancy: the Christmas Eve pregnancy announcement, the pregnancy video I already made. But now, I can begin to let myself hope again. Just a little.
Hello, emotional roller coaster! Happy, sad, up, down, relieved, scared… it’s a cocktail of emotions, and I can’t even have a cocktail. DAMMIT!
The next ultrasound is a week from tomorrow — the 19th. We will hopefully see a heartbeat (which will start ~3 days from now; man, no matter how many times I hear that, it still blows my mind!), some arm and leg buds, and a definite little fishy-shaped baby (check out Peanut’s ultrasound around that age).
Peanut defied the odds. So far, Squeak is looking just as tough as his sister.