As a precaution, I was sent to a specialist who monitored my pregnancy closely along with my regular doctor. There were complications to take into account, including my history with multiple losses within the first trimester, a sudden onset of diabetes, my (ahem) advanced maternal age, and my past pregnancies that ended with a c-section.
I was extremely strict with myself. I went to every doctor’s appointment on time, took my blood sugars, gained not a single ounce of weight, all of which was accompanied by a hefty dose of morning sickness that included vomiting almost every single day. My doctors were pleased with my progress, and it became a waiting game to see how this pregnancy played out. One of the disadvantages of finding out you’re pregnant within days of actually being pregnant is the wait becomes interminable.
But after months of worry and keeping the news to just our immediate family, I finally hit that magical 13-week mark and could breathe a little easier. It appeared that this little monster was going to stick. It also looked like this little monster was a girl! The specialist I was seeing had run a blood test to check for genetic markers that might indicate a problem, and that test just also happens to be able to detect fetal DNA in maternal blood. This baby was definitely female. This certainly confounded me when it came to my dream, but it was delightful to think we’d have another girl given just how many boys we have in our family.
Everything felt like it was falling into place. I had even gotten used to the daily throwing up!
And then at 13 weeks and 2 days, I got up from the couch at the end of a long day to go to the bathroom, as pregnant women are wont to do, and I found that I was spotting — heavily spotting.
Numb, I was instructed by the on-call doctor to stay in bed, on my left side, drink lots of water and take two Tylenol. There was literally nothing else I could do. If I was miscarrying, I would simply miscarry, without intervention.
I went in the next morning for an ultrasound. There it was, and amazingly, the little heartbeat pumping away, and my body showed obvious reason for all of the spotting. My doctor was on vacation for two weeks, so the new on-call doctor sent his nurse in to the exam room to say my ultrasound was fine, but that I should be on pelvic rest until the bleeding stopped. If I had any further problems, call in, and if not, wait to see my regular doctor at my next appointment.
For five weeks I spotted, and I scrutinized each little twinge or nudge or pull. I kept hoping that maybe this little baby would get big enough, so that I could feel her move and give me some bit of hope. I did feel the baby at 16 weeks, but the placenta had attached to the front of my uterus, which made tiny baby movements difficult to feel, so the little flutters were few and far between.
At 18 weeks I went in to see my doctor, who was relieved to hear that all had gone well, though perplexed as to why I had spotted, so he decided to keep me on pelvic rest, much to Jason’s chagrin (and mine, who am I kidding?).
We had now known that this little baby was a girl for six weeks, and we simply could not settle on a name. Nothing felt right, which was so odd because I usually knew what the name of each baby was supposed to be the instant I found out I was pregnant. But this little girl was a puzzle. I kept wondering… could the test be wrong? Could there have been a mistake? But the chances were so slim, and the results had been so sure, so I shook it off and equated it to being an older mom this time around.
At 20 weeks I went to see the specialist, whose office would be performing the ultrasound (as he would most of my regular ultrasounds throughout my pregnancy). When the tech began her exam, I asked her, “How often are the blood tests wrong?” She cited the statistics I had read and anecdotally shared that their office had never had a false reading.
The ultrasound took forever. The baby liked to hang out near my spine with its back turned away, so getting measurements and readings proved difficult. The tech left the room and came back with the doctor, and he continued the exam. And when he was done, he turned to me, my belly all covered in slimy ultrasound goo, and said in his plain and matter-of-fact way, “Your baby is a boy.”
I felt an instant sense of relief, and I finally was able to understand my reluctance to be what my body knew. This reluctance had given me quite a bit of guilt because I felt like I could not experience the excitement with this pregnancy that I had felt with the other ones. I had wondered what was wrong with me. Was I so terrified of loss that taking this chance again had taken away my ability to feel close to my growing child?
There was a brief concern on the doctor’s behalf that there may have been something wrong with the baby — chromosomally a girl but physically a boy — but I just knew with absolute certainty that the test had simply been wrong. This baby was all boy, and he was.
Benjamin. This was the baby in my dream.