Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Twin Scare that Wasn't (and Didn't)

Talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic. My twin scare that was neither twins, nor a scare, discuss. (For the benefit of those of you who know the old SNL skits to which I refer).

Where to start with this. . . I could go dramatic and say that for 2 days this week, I was expecting twins. Sounds fun. Let's go with that.

On Tuesday, I had an appointment with one of my midwives. Casey and I had discussed over the last week that my ever-increasing wondering about twins needed to come to a close one way or another. See, I've been wondering since I got prego--steadily increasing this wondering till an hour wouldn't pass where I hadn't thought, "Is it two in there? What's going on in there?" Before I go on, let me make it clear: it was not wishful thinking that made me wonder about twins--I have never wanted twins (save for maybe when I was a little girl and wanted to be a soldier and a ballerina and a teacher and a nurse and a police officer and a farmer and have 10 kids and several sets of twins). And I readily admit it is completely irrational for someone in my situation to give a second thought to the possibility. I am aware enough of this that for most of you, the fact that I have wondered for so long is probably a surprise. I have not exactly advertised my craziness. In all, I have only told a handful of people about my wondering.

Case observed (rightly) that even if I asked my midwife to try to find two babies or two heartbeats, I would not be satisfied if she was not able to. I had already spent the past 5-6 months trying to convince myself how ridiculous and irrational it was for me to give twins a second thought, yet I could not convince myself fully that it could not be twins. So if they couldn't feel/find another baby, it was not likely that that alone would quell my thoughts in the twin direction. Seeing would be believing, we decided.

So, Tuesday, I begged her to please put me out of my mental misery by ordering an ultrasound. I explained to her that I was not worried about twins, just wondered about the possibility constantly. For every reason I could find why it couldn't be twins (don't run in the family, we've never used any hormone-altering birth control or fertility help), I could find a reason why it could be (maybe they do run in our family and we just don't know, lots of people who have had twins have had very low chances of doing so). Anyway, I could not get my feelings and thoughts to agree, and I needed it to stop. I wanted to set my expectations one way or the other. She gladly pulled out an ultrasound order and began filling it out.

We discussed what twins would mean for our birth plans, then commenced our usual prenatal visit. I was 27 weeks, 1 day. My uterus measured 32 cm (as in, 32 weeks), and she said she was being conservative in that measurement. In palpating, she thought she might be feeling 2 heads--one down low and one up high. She mentioned that babies' bottoms often feel as hard as heads at this point, but that she would be ordering an ultrasound even if I hadn't requested one, because she, too, wondered if I could be carrying twins.

I was shocked to hear this. "Are you just saying that to make me feel like I'm not crazy?" I asked. We had a short discussion on the fact that it may not be twins, but two babies could easily fit/be in this belly. She explained how they might be situated if there were two.

She mentioned that she's sent people in for ultrasounds to rule out twins before, and it was just one, but to schedule the ultrasound sooner rather than later and to go ahead and up my protein intake in the meantime. As I packed up our stuff to head out, she asked, "Are you okay?" I was. I was surprised that my inklings could be true, but I was not freaking out about the possibility of twins. After all, I had been mindful of this possibility from the first weeks of our pregnancy. I told her I was fine and I looked forward to finally knowing for certain one way or the other.

For the next two days, we waited. It was not difficult. In fact, it was comforting to know that on Thursday, we'd be able to move one direction or the other. Casey set the tone of expectant waiting--we knew there was one baby. Let's not plan on there being two until we know for sure. So, those two days were weird, but not agonizing. I still wondered every few minutes, but assured myself with the upcoming appointment--I would soon know for sure! The midwives must have been concerned about the limbo we were in, because they each called on Wednesday to see how I/we were doing processing things. I told them we were alright, just waiting to see. I did ask the other midwife what she thought about the possibility. She said she was curious and if it wasn't too much trouble, she'd like me to call her cell phone after the ultrasound.

Thursday came, and I was overly excited about the ultrasound. Funny, what seemed (and was) routine with a couple other pregnancies was a huge privilege and treat with this one. To be able to see my baby and know the gender would be so exciting. To find out if it was two babies would be very practical! I readied myself, dressing up and putting on my contacts and make-up--things I only do on "special" occasions.

The girls and I met Casey at the office and we all went in to see what was in my belly. The sonographer looked around and asked if we wanted to know the gender. We answered that since we were there, we might as well find out. She said, "It's a boy."

I got teary for a second. I didn't realize I would get emotional about the gender announcement. Right away, she proclaimed, "It's just one baby."

After all Casey's and my discussions on the issue, and our certainty that an ultrasound would be THE THING to do the trick and give my mind a kick in the proverbial pants, what came out of my mouth surprised both of us: "Are you sure? Did you look everywhere? Is there any way one could be hiding? Would you look around really thoroughly? Is there a chance you could miss one?"

She calmly stated that it was very unlikely--and there weren't many places to look. For the rest of the ultrasound, I was in a surreal state. I could not believe that I would not believe her! I walked out of there praying, "God, please let this news sink in. Please let it only be a couple nights of sleeping on it before I can fully accept that it really is only one baby in there." I imagine this may be similar to what a woman who has just found out she's having twins and had not considered the possibility of twins may experience--only in the other direction. It may have to sink in for a few days for her to grasp and fully believe it. I hoped that it would be a matter of time before I "knew" I was having a singleton.

That next night, I told Casey that even though I wasn't 100% convinced still, having had the ultrasound helped me to better understand the movements I felt. He's breech right now, and that may be why I feel a lot of movement up high as well as down low. I'll have to check my records to see if the girls were head-down at this point.

As the days have gone by, I have become more and more comfortable with the idea that I am feeling one baby and that it is only one baby in there. But there is a small percentage of me that will accept that it is one baby when he is born and a placenta follows. . . not another baby. But I'm okay with that. I can live with that. Believe it or not, I do not consider that crazy. Crazy is what I was (or may have been). Mostly sane is what I am now. I joked with Casey over dinner the night of the ultrasound that the next test I'd be requiring is an MRI of my brain!

For now, I can interpret baby's movements in a more rational way--perhaps he is more active than the girls were, or active in a different way, I don't know. There has been something about this pregnancy that seems different. Perhaps it is just that I am carrying a boy. Perhaps it is something more. Time will tell.

He may have had a major growth spurt and by next appointment, I'll be measuring more around my actual dates again. I measured one week ahead in March, but I've probably done that at some point with every pregnancy. I have not, however, measured 5 weeks ahead before. Has anyone else measured so much bigger out-of-the-blue like that? What was the reason for you?

It was comforting to know there is an explanation for feeling huge and crowded already. I have outgrown many of my maternity tops because my belly sticks out so far. People are still commenting: "Are you ready?" and "Any day now!" I feel silly telling them I'm not even in the 3rd trimester yet! When I tell them July, they look at me like I accidentally said July when I really meant something else. This is not helping in the mental corralling of my thoughts, let me tell you! Even so, looking big is not such a concern--I know my abs are shot. Measuring big is weird, though, because according to my midwives, I have very good tone in my uterus for my fourth pregnancy. It makes it hard for them to palpate. (There is a good explanation for good tone in the uterus and not in the abs--the uterus is an involuntary muscle which has kept itself in great shape all these years. My abs are voluntary muscles and I have not volunteered them for much of anything these past few years.)

So, just for fun, I'll give you the "facts" we discovered at the ultrasound. We take these with a grain of salt, as ultrasound is not an exact science. Measurements are estimates and not very reliable. With that caveat: Amniotic fluid is not the reason I measured big--it was at 19 cm. Anywhere from 10-20 is considered normal. My uterus measured at 30 weeks, 6 days, and baby looked to be 3 lb, 4 oz. Ultrasound is less and less accurate for predicting due dates the farther along you are, so I don't think my midwives will be messing with the due date. And ultrasound has been known to be off by a pound or more (in either direction, actually!). We did see a pretty obvious boy part. The gender was the easy part to believe.

To my dismay, they gave us only 5 pictures, and none of them were good. When she was doing the 4D part, he kept covering his face with his arm. Our other 4D ultrasounds haven't been very pretty, since the girls were around 20 weeks and all skin-and-bones. I had hoped this ultrasound would be cuter, since he'd be fatter, but he wasn't very cooperative. Guess we'll have to wait to see his face till he's out!

At any rate, it could be that I'm just carrying a boy, and that is why so many things seem and feel so different. He could be a big boy, as my mom had big boys and small girls, and Casey and his brother were both over 9 lb. (Edited: Oops! Guess Case was over 9 and Corey was slightly under.) I think my mom had almost a 4 lb difference between her smallest girl and her biggest boy (I'll let you fill in the specifics, Mom, as I don't remember--Mom says 3 1/4 lb difference). Though I do not mind having a big boy, I do hope he will not be a whole 4 lb bigger than Ruby was. I'm not excited about the idea of giving birth to a baby over 11 lb. But 9 or even 10 lb. would be okay. I'm up for that.