Although our prenatal practitioners gave us a detailed breakdown of what to expect for each visit, I had forgotten to check the information sheet before we left, so I went in pretty much prepared for anything.
I had been waiting for Monday's appointment all month: week 12. A milestone of sorts. The point where the chance of miscarriage reduces dramatically. It couldn't come soon enough.
Because of that, I woke up early and was ready to go. Jerry surprised me by driving home from work a little earlier than usual so we could travel together instead of just meeting at the doctors' office.
During my March appointment, I had been given a little twist-cap plastic cup with instructions to collect my first morning urine for the next visit. I had looked at that damn cup every time I opened the medicine cabinet in the upstairs bathroom for the last 30 days and couldn't wait to get rid of it. I placed it on the windowsill next to the toilet the night before as a blatant reminder -- something I couldn't miss no matter how groggy I was.
But when I woke up at 4 a.m. for my usual halfway-through-the-night bathroom break, I suddenly wondered if I was supposed to use THAT pee. I guess the whole point is that the hormones are most prevalent because they have a chance to build up while you're sleeping. As I felt my bladder draining, I convinced myself it wouldn't matter. I barely had coordination to find the toilet, let alone aim into a tiny cup at that hour. I'd use the pee when I woke up for the day.
Then the worries set in. What if I wouldn't have enough pee? What if I didn't need to go? Did I just miss my window to give the doctor what she needed? Would she know if I gave her afternoon pee instead of morning pee? Would the test results be skewed? What are they even testing for with my pee anyway? Is it life-threatening? Is it monumentally important?
All those thoughts got me out of bed again and I found myself in front of the fridge, chugging vitamin-fortified orange juice for good measure. I would NOT let my doctor down! I would pee! I made sure of it.
Sure enough, hours later, my cup could've runneth over if I hadn't been very careful. I put it in a plastic baggie and set it in the fridge, as instructed, next to the deal-making orange juice jug.
Jerry and I made it out the door and halfway to the car when I screamed, "WAIT! I FORGOT MY PEE!" and ran back into the house to get it. And a snack. You know, just in case.
A nurse weighed me in at a whopping 162 for a total first-trimester gain of seven pounds. I silently blamed the two-week span I wanted nothing but mammoth bagels slathered in cream cheese.
Turns out the urine sample is used to test for gestational diabetes and I passed with flying, um, yellow. The appointment was very brief. We were told to wait in a very small room that didn't have any ultrasound equipment, much to our disappointment. I had been so excited to see how our little lightning bug was progressing. I couldn't wait to see a more human-like figure, rather than a cashew nut with appendage nubs.
While waiting for the doctor, Jerry was busy looking at a poster that detailed the nine months of fetal development.
"Did you know that our baby has muscles and is moving around like crazy right now?" he asked. "And it even has eyebrows!"
The doctor came in and it was nice to see her again. She didn't indicate that she remembered me at all, but seemingly nodded in understanding when I talked about "being worried because of our last experience."
After looking over my chart and announcing that all of my bloodwork came back normal, including an HIV test, she asked me to lay back on the examination table and fold down my jeans. Then she lifted my shirt a few inches and slathered a cool jelly on my lower abdomen.
She placed the tip of a small device over the jelly and loud crackling noises instantly filled the room. I heard it immediately: a faint whoosh, whoosh. But as soon as I heard it, it was lost with more crackling.
I had been looking at Jerry sitting across from me in a chair and his eyebrows were raised in expectation.
"Sounds like he's movin' furniture in there!" he said.
The doctor remained focused, moving the wand around, listening. "I think it moved onto its belly," she said. "That makes it a little harder."
Then, just as soon as it had gone, it was back -- loud and clear this time.
My jaw dropped and the room fell silent as we listened to that little heart beating wildly. To me, it sounded like a distinct whooshing sound over and over again. The beat sounded so musical for some reason. It's something I definitely would've tapped my toes to if I wasn't frozen in concentration with my mouth hanging open.
"Everything sounds good!" the doctor said, snapping me back into reality. I tried to discreetly wipe the tears that had escaped from the corner of my eyes, but Jerry called me on it.
The doctor left after making a few notes in my folder and handing me yet another urine sample cup for the next appointment.
Jerry and I just sort of sat there staring at each other.
"That was amazing," he said.
I could only nod. It certainly was.
I had gone in prepared for anything. But nothing could've prepared me for that.