Today has been a super rainy day in Kansas City. It started last night with thunderstorms. It rained all morning and was pouring when I splashed my way into the reproductive endocrinologist’s office nice and early today. Now it’s late afternoon and another thunderstorm just moved through. It’s not unusual for KC weather: when it rains, it pours.
It’s fitting since we got some very big news at today’s appointment. A few days ago I wrote about how my optimism that this pregnancy had stuck was waning since I’ve had very few major symptoms. Man, was I wrong.
Not only am I still pregnant… I’m pregnant with not one. Not two either… and not three.
There are FOUR embryos in there, people. FOUR.
Here’s how that played out:
Since it was to be our first ultrasound since getting pregnant, Michael joined me for the appointment. I got there ten minutes early but he went to school first, so he was a few minutes late. My anticipation while I was in the exam room waiting for him to arrive was OVER THE TOP. The head nurse was thankfully willing to wait, and the sonographer came in a few minutes after he arrived, ready to get things started with the good old ultrasound probe.
I should interject: Despite probably two dozen ultrasounds over the last few months, I haven’t gotten reliably good at being able to interpret what’s on the screen. Once the sonographer tells me I’m looking at an ovary, I can identify follicles. I did some research to find out what a roughly six-week-old embryo would look like before our appointment, but I’m not quick to identify them. So when the sonographer pulled up the screen right off the bat, all I could see was a bunch of black spaces among tissue. It looked a lot like an ovary with a few follicles developing, a view with which many PCOS patients are familiar. She was quiet for about the first ten seconds. Then:
“Um, I’m not sure how to tell you this. But I see four yolk sacs here.”
My gut reaction was actually a lot more logical than you might expect: Instead of panicking, I though, four yolk sacs does not four embryos make. I was still mentally prepared for the whole missed miscarriage situation, and that was a possibility even with four yolk sacs developing.
But then she found the heartbeats. Of all four embryos.
So she got to measuring, crown-to-rump lengths and heartbeats. It took a while. Over the next ten minutes or so, we got several views of our four different developing babies. Each had found a home in my uterus (as opposed to within my fallopian tubes), had a healthy heart rate above 100 beats per minute and was progressing along nicely, size-wise:
- Baby A: 3.6 cm
- Baby B: 3.7 cm
- Baby C: 4.8cm
- Baby D: 5.4 cm
The sonographer was incredulous. She did a pretty great job considering she wasn’t sure where we were at emotionally. She asked a few times how we were doing. Michael and I were… stunned. I wasn’t quite sure how to react. First I felt relief: there was still a baby in there growing. Four babies is better than no babies. But four babies!? That. Is. So. Many. Babies.
Shortly after she finished up, there was a gaggle of nurses in and around our exam room. Multiples are pretty typical with assisted reproductive technology, so I didn’t expect our situation to be that newsworthy. But the word traveled fast, and apparently four is THAT big of a deal. (The doctor later told us we are her first patients to ever result in a quadruplet pregnancy in ten years of practicing.) By the time I was redressed and had photos in-hand, there were several nurse practitioners, two nurses and a sonographer in our room. We got some info from the two lead NPs about a high-risk obstetrician we’ll be seeing next week, and the NPs set us up to meet with the doctor briefly before we left. The looks from the nurses as we made our way out ranged from excitement to shock to sympathy.
It only took a few minutes of chatting with the doctor to realize why a few of the nurses looked concerned. The nurses were giddy; the doctor was solemn. The main point she stressed was that while pregnancy news is good… this isn’t good pregnancy news. The risk to each fetus when there are four babies is VERY real. Another issue that until now I didn’t really know was a possibility: the chance that the high-risk obstetrician might suggest we consider “reducing” the number of fetuses.
That’s another issue for another post and another day after we have more info. For now, we’re celebrating that there is one baby in there, and taking in the idea that there could be many more.