When the nurse ordered an immediate ultrasound after I told her about my sudden loss of pregnancy symptoms, flashbacks of all of my previous experiences cluttered my mind.
I had four of them last time: the first that detected no heartbeat, the second on a higher-resolution machine that also detected no heartbeat, the third a week later that showed no fetal growth, and the fourth in the emergency room after my surgery looking for blood clots.
Somehow I managed to put one foot in front of the other and walk into the same room with the higher-resolution equipment and hope that history didn't repeat itself.
The doctor seemed frustrated that she had to leave another patient to tend to me, but kindly mentioned that she understood after having a miscarriage of her own.
I hadn't realized I was holding my breath until she announced there was a heartbeat. I literally shot up on the examination table and she had to tell me to lay back down and be still. She had explained that she would gather the data she needed then turn the monitor to show me, but those few minutes seemed like days. Meanwhile, Jerry was getting a good look over her shoulder, and even in the darkness, he couldn't hide his joy.
When she turned the monitor, it feels strange to say, but I immediately felt connected to that little bean. And although I hate the reason behind it, it was amazing to see our embryo in that much detail. Most expectant mothers never get to experience anything like that during their entire pregnancy, let alone in the first few weeks.
The equipment was 4-D and the doctor swiveled all around the embryo, showing every curve and bump from the side, around its back and up the other side. Although it only slightly resembles a human form at eight weeks, she pointed out every feature as she went, explaining exactly what we were looking at.
The heartbeat was amazing. It reminded me a lot of a lightning bug. Only instead of glowing uniformly, it glowed in waves from the chest to the head, thumping wildly and coursing through its tiny body.
The head was easily the same size as the rest of its body and had dark indentations where the eyes will be. There were no appendages yet, but little emerging bumps indicated where the arms are starting to form.
The spine was a narrow ridge that hadn't flattened out into any sort of a back yet. It was the thinnest part of the body, then it widened out tremendously to support a bulging chest cavity and head.
We even saw the placenta and umbilical cord and she examined my ovaries which gave enough detail for her to determine that the egg came from the right one. Then she made a joke that our baby would grow up to be a Republican, and Jerry said, "Well it can just stay in there, then."
I didn't want it to end. I could've stared at that screen all afternoon. Fortunately, she printed out a few pictures for us to take home that now have a prominent place on the front of our fridge.
My regular eight-week exam was yesterday. And although I didn't get the good equipment this time, I know I won't ever tire of seeing that little neon green light swoosh around on the computer monitor. No matter how blurry.
And I don't think I'll ever look at lightning bugs in the same way ever again.