Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Two Heartbeats

Right there on the ultrasound. One (er...two) of the most beautiful pixel blips you'd ever hope to see. Shortly after noon on November 19th, right there in front of my disbelieving eyes. I'd been so cautious with my expectations, it was a little hard to wrap my head around it. It worked... it really worked. There were two little figures and there were their heartbeats.

We only got two eggs from the retrieval. They were both good, they both fertilized, they both made it to three days, and they both survived to eight weeks. As I said over and over again as I stared at the ultrasound monitor... Oh My God!

Let me back up a bit. So we'd been waiting anxiously for this day since...well, since the positive pregnancy test on October 27th. (Although believe me, that was only the formal pregnancy test... Red went a little test crazy for a while...remember the pregnancy test scene from Knocked Up?) I leave work shortly before our appointment at 11 am and make my way up Spring Garden Road to AART, nervous, heart pounding, willing things to be OK while preparing myself for them not to be. I meet Red in the parking garage as she's still looking for a spot; I get in the car and it's this bizarre moment where we're about to find out whether we're going to be parents or not but instead we need to focus on the mundane task of finding a parking space.

We head up to AART and I shakily take my seat in the waiting room. An older couple is there and a younger couple that I kind of recognize, but I'm not sure. AART is really behind schedule today, there are retrievals and implantations going on left and right. The young couple get called in to their ultrasound first and as the receptionist calls the woman's name I remember: this is the couple that had their retrieval immediately after Red's. In the recovery room that day, as we were trying to deal with the news that they only got two eggs, I had to listen to this couple, still filled with the pre-retrieval optimism, chat with the nurses. Sure that was us less than an hour ago before, but it stung to have to listen to them as I was trying to comfort my devastated, semi-conscious wife. And now they were ahead of us for their eight week ultrasound. The little pessimistic douchebag voice in my brain fires up: "Yep, that's how it's gonna be... they probably got loads of eggs, and now they're going to have loads of kids, and we'll have to sit here and listen, and then go find out that we've got nothing." My heart sinks lower and as I fight back the nervous movements and the tears, I say a little prayer and squeeze Red's hand. (I may also have done a little sudoku.)

So the couple is called, and minutes later the younger guy comes out, and asks whether the older couple wants to come in and see the twins. Yep... this is how it's going to happen... you're so right, little douchebag voice.

We eventually get into the room a little after 12 pm, and have to wait some more in the exam room, me pacing back and forth and trying (and failing) to make jokes about the equipment and the situation. It's just before 12:30 pm when Dr. Bouzayen comes in and slowly, carefully talks us through where we are in the process and what she's going to do. She brings a clerk guy with her who's being trained. "Great," says the douchebag voice, "we're about to receive terrible news and we've got to share it with THIS GUY? Of course we do..." Now the doctor has the probe in and comments on how Red's bladder is already filling back up. "Oh, haha, Red has to pee a lot... what about the embryos?" The doctor says that her lining is nice and thick. "OK, that's good... but not really what we want to know...embryos?" The doctor points out the cyst on one of Red's ovaries. Red and I share a telepathic, "Oh no...that's it...it didn't work and now there's a cyst." But the doctor points out that it's actually a good thing as the cyst is providing good hormones, and will probably go away on its own. She continues and suggests that it might be time to take a look in the uterus. "Gee, do you think? Arrggghh" The douchebag is winning.

As Dr. Bouzayen starts her sweep I think I catch a momentary flash of something that I recognize, something that triggers a shape memory... wait a second, that's what foetuses look like... and then she finds the right spot and there it is. It's pretty much an alien shaped blob, but it's the right kind of alien shaped blob. And there's a little bit of pixel noise on the image that I'm not used to seeing on the ultrasounds. Not pixel noise... that is the friggin' heartbeat. Oh My God! The douchebag voice is silent. The doctor reminds us that we put two embryos in; maybe we should check for another one. A few movements of her wrist and she finds it... other side of the uterus, another alien blob, another bit of pixel noise. Oh My God! The douchebag voice has gone home for the day.. hostile work environment. I'm stunned, thrilled, gobsmacked, grateful, excited...

And the doctor is disappointed. Tsk, she says as she makes notes, that's our second set of twins today. Our goal is really to have one healthy baby, she says, but she's grinning as she says it, and I'm.... well, I'm dealing with the wonderful fact that I'm much closer to becoming a father. The doctor says that as soon as she saw that both foetuses had their own amniotic sacs, and that both had strong heartbeats, the chance of miscarriage dropped from 25 % to 5 %. In a few minutes, we have jumped many rungs up the statistical ladder. The doctor is giving us lots of information about checkups and progress and due dates and I'm listening but it's like my brain has a soft filter on it... everything's warm and fuzzy and looking fantastic. The doctor and the clerk leave and Red and I are left to contemplate our new, very likely role as the parents of twins.


So that was was almost two weeks ago, at the eight week ultrasound. This Thursday, Red will be 10 weeks pregnant, a couple of weeks shy of the end of her first trimester. That's supposed to be the safe time to tell people that you're pregnant, so it's an important milestone, although all of you guys out there are obviously already in the know.

Red's already getting big. She went maternity clothes shopping for the first time on Sunday and was thrilled to be able to wear pants the past two days. She is still nauseous (but not vomitous, if that's even a word), especially at night, she's wicked tired, frequently ravenous, and wants her breasts gone. They are the worst thing for her so far, I believe. They are very itchy and hot and swollen. She's taken to putting cold cloths on them in the evening. Last night she discovered that paper towel works even better, "Cause it sticks!"

I'm feeling more at ease about referring to the foetuses as babies. I may have even started talking to them a little bit. But the fact that we're having twins is just a bonus. I wanted at least one... to get two is just double the blessing. And I know that sounds a bit cliche, but it's the truth. Red was pretty convinced before the ultrasound that if there was something in her oven, there were two of that something in there. (In fact, while I was blown away after the doctor found the first one, Red was waiting for the second.) I was so worried about there being nothing that two, three, four, whatever... I'm just thrilled.

To be fair, though, I was in a bit of a daze after the ultrasound. For a few minutes, Red was unsure if I should even drive. We'd both been at work before the appointment and were supposed to go back, but that seemed wrong. So we decided to drive over to Dartmouth and visit family. My Mom called and we gave her the news...very excited. We called my sister and gave her the news...I had to assure her three times that I was, in fact, quite serious... very excited. My sister passed me off to my Dad... who promptly reminded me that I wouldn't be able to go far from the house anytime soon. And suggested that the news would be good for my Mom since she had had a fender bender that morning. Dad has his own way of processing things...

So there we are. We have an appointment with our family doctor tomorrow, an appointment with Dr. Busayn next week, and then an ultrasound at the IWK the week after. Please keep your prayers and good energy and good thoughts coming our way... as some people have told us, you never stop worrying about losing your baby until they're born, and then you have a whole new set of things to worry about. Hopefully we'll be celebrating Christmas safe in the knowledge that we're through the first trimester, and contemplating that next Christmas we'll probably be taking care of two six month olds. Well, we bought this house with the idea that we'd fill it with kids... it looks like we're off to a good start. Wish us luck. I'll try to post next week with any news.

I leave you with some pics from the day of the Ultrasound.

"Aieeee! Twins!"

"Well done with the baby growing, baby!"

"One pretty mama..."


  1. Your internal douchebag is much pleasanter than mine. Not that THAT'S much of a surprise.

    But really - this is excellent news! Congratulations.

    Remember we're in town in two weeks. See you then?

  2. Even funnier here than over the phone.

    So Travis... so now you're claiming you have an inner douchebag voice? Does it have a megaphone or something? [insert the appropriate emoticon to disavow any sincerity in the previous statement here]

  3. That would be:
    ; )

    No megaphone, just a direct line to my mouth.

    "Douchebag" is such an unfortunate word in the context of this happy news. Tim, couldn't you have an internal rapscallion instead?

  4. Raspcallion is a bit more playful and has a fondness that doesn't quite fit. I'm not really fond of that inner voice... he's a bit of a jerk.

    Douchebag makes me laugh, but it is a bit gynecological. Perhaps "dillweed", "sourpuss" or "nogoodnik". Or maybe I need to use adjectives: "cantankerous", "cranky", "pessimistic". My vocabulary is failing me fellas... help me out...

  5. Gloomy Gus? A ill-humoured knave? Travis?

    I was going to ask why not something simple like "dick" but I suppose typing "my inner dick" would just be a little weird.

  6. I'm a little confused about this belligerence being directed towards me.
    ; )
    I suggest the unfelicitous but useful term, "jerk".