Pregnancy: 7 week ultrasound and gender reveal
Trigger warning: pregnancy talk. 7 week ultrasound update and gender reveal!
We were five minutes away from leaving for our 7-week ultrasound when it happened. The smell of smoke. I was upstairs finishing getting ready when Cory called up to me. “Kristen – did you burn toast?” I made toast earlier that morning, but burn it I did not.
I sniffed. Yep. Something was burning. I checked the mirror to make sure I hadn’t fried my hair when blow-drying it. Nope. Not that either.
I quickly made my way downstairs to play Watson to Cory’s Sherlock Holmes. Cory was tearing through the first floor, opening doors and cabinets, checking the dryer and the furnace, smelling in and above the microwave. (The smoke’s epicenter happened to be above the microwave. So weird because we hadn’t cooked anything in it all day.) For a couple of minutes, I mirrored his tornado-like fervor and searched for the source of this mystery smoke until one look at the clock immediately stopped me in my tracks.
2:20 PM. We were supposed to leave for our fertility clinic now in order to make it there in time for our 2:45 PM check-in. While Cory continued to zoom around the house, we began brainstorming possible next steps.
“We can’t just leave the house with it smelling like smoke,” he very rationally suggested.
“I know, I know, but we can’t miss our appointment either.” I was starting to get frantic.
Cory suggested that I go without him (nope) or reschedule for later this week (not my first choice). I suggested that my mom, who lives 30 minutes away, or our neighbors, who were not responding to my texts at the time, come to our house to monitor the smell (neither a viable option). I called the fire department for a second opinion, but apparently I dialed the administrative office line and it went straight to voicemail. (The woman on the recording urged me to dial 9-11 in case of an emergency. Was this an emergency? The risk of missing our 7-week ultrasound certainly felt like an emergency!)
Cory opened the front door of our townhouse to see if the smoke was coming from outside. It smelled like a fresh, post-Bomb-Cyclone-blizzard afternoon. Cory then noticed that our neighbor’s front windows were wide open. Odd, considering it was 30-something degrees outside.
I went back inside to unproductively panic and call the clinic to see when the next available appointment would be if we had to reschedule. Cory knocked and knocked on our neighbor’s door to investigate the open windows. No answer.
More Kristen panicking inside. More Cory investigating outside.
Cory persistently knocked on the door until our neighbor finally answered. Our neighbor quickly explained that his children had (severely) burned a bag of popcorn and this was the culprit. I had never smelled burnt popcorn like this in my life. The bag must have caught on fire, burned down to ashes, and then took the entire microwave down with it too to smell as strongly as this smoke smelled. It smelled as if our house was burning down by invisible flames emitting invisible smoke. What an adrenaline-spiking, anxiety-producing event to occur right before our ultrasound.
2:30 PM. I called my clinic to let them know that yes, we indeed were on our way and no, our house wasn’t burning down and thank you, we appreciate your concern.
2:50 PM. We arrive at our clinic just five minutes behind schedule. After some mindful breathing in the car, we had finally returned to baseline. Steady and ready to (hopefully) see the heartbeat of our 7-week-old baby on the ultrasound.
First the medical assistant (MA) took me to get my vitals. Normally I decline getting weighed at the doctor, but because pregnancy is different, I simply asked to turn around on the scale and not see my weight. I also asked the MA to make sure to not show me my written weight inadvertently. I know it is important for my weight to be monitored during pregnancy to makes sure I’m gaining enough for the baby, but at the same time, I feel like my body will intuitively know how much I need to gain by letting me know how much I need to eat. I trust my body’s wisdom. But this is another topic for another blog post…
After my vitals, I was led into the ultrasound room and asked to remove my clothes from the waist down (something I have become very efficient at doing after countless vaginal ultrasounds during IVF). The ultrasound tech stepped out, and Cory and I had a couple precious minutes to have one last pep talk before she came back in. I love you. You love me. Life will be okay if we don’t receive good results today. Right? Right.
In a flash, the ultrasound tech was back in and up the wand went.
“There’s your baby. And there’s your baby’s heartbeat.” She pointed to the screen.
Relief. Joy! More relief.
Our baby was still in there, measuring at 6 weeks + 6 days (right on track) with a heartbeat of 113 beats per minute. This seemed a little low to me, but apparently anything above 100 beat per minute is okay. I continued to perseverate on this lower-ish heart rate for the next 30 minutes and was finally appeased by my nurse practitioner (NP) who explained again that this was a perfectly normal heart rate.
After the ultrasound, we met with the NP for 20 minutes to go over next steps. I would have another ultrasound in two weeks at 9 weeks gestation right before I “graduate” from our fertility clinic. At 11.5 weeks, I’ll transition to my OB/MFM!
During this appointment with the NP, she also handed us an envelope with the baby’s gender inside! I wanted to open it in the parking lot, but Cory wanted to wait until we got home. I agreed to wait, and Cory then proceeded to suggest we stop at Arby’s to get “celebratory fries.” That would delay finding out the gender 15 minutes, but also fries, so I agreed to that too.
Piping hot curly fries and ketchup packets on the drive home. Conversation soaking in the fact that these will be the last moments in our entire lives that we will not know the gender of our child. Anxious-excited texts from my sisters and mom wondering how long does the drive home take, guys? Geez?! (I told them I would call them after we had our private gender-reveal-moment.)
We arrived home, set up a camera to capture our reactions, and prepped ourselves to open the envelope. We made our final predictions on camera. Cory: boy. Kristen: boy.
We opened up the envelope and slowly unfolded the paper within. Like the peak of gold from the golden ticket as Charlie unwrapped his chocolate bar in Charlie and the Chocolate factory, I saw it. Blue. And before I could think another thought, we had unfolded the entire paper:
It’s a boy!
A boy! Holy cow! We knew it. On Cory’s side, there hasn’t been a Wendling girl born into the family for at least 3 generations (maybe more). We were destined for a boy. I don’t know if I should put this in writing because our son may read this some day (we love you, son, we promise!), but Cory and I were both hoping for a girl. Cory, to break the generation-after-generation Wendling “curse” (kidding!), and me because I have five sisters (and one super cute brother), and I feel really comfortable with girls.
But a boy…this will be a new adventure for us! We are incredibly grateful to have a son because a) boys are amazing, b) our world needs men raised by sensitive folks like us (down with toxic masculinity!), and c) not everyone who is infertile like me gets to be pregnant at all.
So in 1.5 weeks from now, we will have our 9 week ultrasound to make sure everything is still going well. Since we saw a heartbeat at 7 weeks, our chances of miscarrying went down from 25% to 5-7%. If (when) we see a heartbeat at 9 weeks, our chances of miscarrying decrease even more.
Until then, I’ll be reveling in my new pregnancy symptoms (extreme fatigue, mild nausea) and thinking positive thoughts!
One last random note - I recently calculated how many shots I will have had to make this baby boy of ours. By the time I’m done with my last progesterone shot at 11.5 weeks, I will have had approximately 170 shots to make this baby. 170 shots!
Thanks for reading - especially those of you who read the whole thing and didn’t just skim to the end to find out the gender (haha!).