Mostly by Laura (IM) and a little from Brooks (IF)
I think we can all admit that the first trimester flew by! Where to even begin to recap? It has been such a roller coaster of emotions on this journey, so we have broken it out into weeks between ultrasounds to organize our thoughts.
Beta – First Ultrasound at 6.5 weeks
Laura: After receiving news of the amazingly high betas, and continuing to see the darkest pregnancy test lines there ever were, I think we were both feeling a mix of emotions (happy, excited, nervous, anxious, and… relief). Tarynn right away shared news of feeling sleepy (which turned into pure exhaustion as the days & weeks went by) but was holding strong with no morning sickness weeks 3.5 – 6.5. We were scheduled to have our first (and last) ultrasound at UCSF on Thursday September 24th to see our little girl for the very first time, and we were all anxiously awaiting this day.
One day before the ultrasound, Tarynn called me to report some bleeding. I am not sure how to adequately describe how this made me feel. Obviously, I was terrified. I was also a little angry at the universe, because in the fairy tale in my head nothing bad would happen since we went the surrogacy route. Right? I also wanted to protect Tarynn, stay positive for her and not let her think we were too nervous. The Dr. told Tarynn to stay on modified rest and unless the bleeding picked up, to continue to fly to San Francisco the next day and come to the ultrasound as scheduled. So we held our heads high, stayed positive, and resumed on. The next day, I was able to bring my Mom into the city to attend the ultrasound. We waited for Tarynn at UCSF and once she landed and arrived by Uber, we all had a nice lunch at the onsite restaurant (Tarynn looking a little off-put by the limited menu with nothing sounding good to her – a great sign!).
When our appointment time rolled around and Brooks had arrived from work, we waited for Tarynn to set up in the room and we all crammed in – myself, Brooks, Tarynn, my Mom, a nurse, and my RE since June 2012, Dr. Mitchell Rosen. The lights went out and the internal ultrasound began, and we immediately saw a gestational sac, a little blob (our baby) and a flickering of a heartbeat. I don’t really remember too much around me, because I just stared at the screen and at our baby in total awe.
I remember hearing the heart beat and asking how fast it was (131 bpm), I remember feeling Tarynn watching me at one point, I remember Brooks’ hands grabbing my knee and my hand, and I remember hearing my Mom sob in the corner. Dr. Rosen said the bleeding had been caused by a SCH (Sub-chorionic Hematoma) and that based on the size and position, he believed it would not be a problem and that it would go away on its own. We were so relieved. We ended our remaining time together celebrating with champagne for myself, a dirty martini for Brooks, and a glass of Ginger Ale for Tarynn.
Brooks: For me, the first trimester was a whirlwind of emotions. Laura and I were both extremely happy that the pregnancy took on the first attempt. We’ve felt Ava’s arrival was long overdue and it would also make things easier on us financially. After learning about Tarynn’s bleeding just prior to the 6.5 week ultrasound, all I could think was “here we go again”. I remained optimistic, but I could tell it was taking a real toll on Laura and this, in turn, caused me to get upset as well. After the ultrasound we felt much better about the situation. Hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time is indescribable. It was nice to share the experience with my mother-in-law, Karen. She will be such a huge part of Ava’s life going forward and a great help to Laura and I.
6.5 weeks – Next ultrasound at 8.5 weeks
Laura: Because Dr. Rosen was not concerned with the SCH, neither were we anymore. To be honest, it pretty much left my mind especially since Tarynn had zero bleeding after that one day. Tarynn also had promising symptoms in these next 2 weeks, including morning sickness, food aversions, exhaustion, and cravings of chow-mein and cereal. I was walking around with rainbows shooting out my eyeballs, I was just so stinkin’ happy. We kept busy and were looking forward to flying down to southern California to attend our next ultrasound at 8.5 weeks; to see how much Ava had grown and also to meet Tarynn’s OB! He would be the one delivering our baby, so we were excited to take this next step and graduate from our clinic. We also had plans with friends for the long weekend, followed by a one-day Disneyland trip for Laura joined by Tarynn and her girls. Fun stuff!
When we arrived we hung out at Tarynn’s for a little bit and then left for the appointment. Her dr. was running behind schedule as he had a delivery, so we were taken back pretty late. We had plans to hang out with Tarynn, Josh, and the girls after the appt. and to enjoy dinner and a movie together, so we were a little anxious to get going! The appt. was a long one. Tarynn’s urine and blood were taken, and she and I were both asked many questions concerning our medical histories. Finally – it was ultrasound time!
Dr. Glaser spent time looking at Tarynn’s cervix, her ovaries, her bladder, and nearby arteries while we caught glimpses of a much larger Ava as he moved past her, lol. Finally, he narrowed in on her and we saw her cuddled in her sac, feet up, with fists/hand buds by her face! And just a few quick times, she would just ever so slightly jerk. It was incredible! The machine could not accurately measure the heart rate, but Dr. Glaser said it was very fast and healthy. Finally, I asked if the SCH was still there. Dr. Glaser moved the wand to another angle and boom – a much, much larger SCH that was bigger than the sac itself. This means the SCH had grown quite a bit. I probably asked him the same questions over and over, trying to judge the severity of it and if we should be concerned. As all doctors must say, he said these things were extremely unpredictable, and there was no guessing the outcome. He said there was a chance of miscarriage… (and here is where I stopped listening).
I can tell you that after this appointment I had a fantastic weekend, especially spending time with Tarynn and her family, seeing all my friends, and going to Disneyland with Tarynn and her girls (in the most ridiculous heat wave of all time). However, there was a part of me that was just not “with it”. I was scared. I was once again pissed off at the universe. Hadn’t I been through enough? Couldn’t this just be easy? Over time I became increasingly more positive, but that weekend was more or less a rough one for me.
Brooks: The 8.5 week brought more fear again as the SCH appeared to be getting bigger. We couldn’t tell for sure at the time, but it was discouraging nonetheless. It was nice to spend time with Tarynn, Josh and their kids again. We hadn’t seen Kaelyn and Scarlett since late May and were excited to see how much they’d grown in the last 5 months. They’re great kids and seeing them reminds me of what I get to look forward to with Ava.
8.5 weeks – Last minute ultrasound check-up at 11.5 weeks
Laura: As I said above, my positivity slowly came back and my funk slowly resolved knowing Tarynn still wasn’t bleeding, was still having all the pregnancy symptoms, and also after countless hours of researching and seeing that the statistics were on our side. Janae and the ATS community helped tremendously, as so many surrogates have had an SCH before with good outcomes, and it seemed to be more common than not.
October has always been a special month for me, as it is our anniversary, my birthday, and my favorite holiday – Halloween! I had an incredible month, and just prayed that little Ava would keep growing despite this SCH in her way.
After a long and busy three weeks, Tarynn let us know she was able to get a last minute appt. in to see Dr. Glaser at 11.5 weeks pregnant to check on everything. When we received the call after her appointment, it was the greatest news ever! Ava looked like a “real” baby, and the SCH had resolved tremendously and was very small; less than 2 cm in multiple measurements. The u/s tech gave Tarynn her opinion that this was not to be worried about, and Dr. Glaser agreed and was very happy with how much it had resolved. Although we were not there to see her ourselves, Tarynn let us know how Ava was doing, and described how she was moving all around during the u/s! I couldn’t wait to come down for the 12.5 week u/s in just a short week to see her myself.
Brooks: The most recent ultrasound brought great news as the blood clot situation had all but resolved itself and Ava seemed ahead of the curve on all fronts. For the first time in the pregnancy, I truly had no worries and could simply sit back and enjoy the process.
12.5 Weeks – Second Trimester
Laura: Flying down for the 12.5 week Nuchal Translucency u/s was no joke, one of the top 5 happiest days on my life. Although I had to wake up at 3:50 AM and walk to BART in 39 degree weather, I didn’t mind one bit. I arrived to southern California with plenty of time to spare and had breakfast with a girlfriend.
We then met Tarynn and her youngest at UCI (after 45 mins of all of us being lost) and Tarynn and I proceeded into the exam room. This was the first time I had been with her where the u/s was external, and I was excited to think every time I saw Tarynn her belly would be bigger and bigger. The exam went very fast, and it was so amazing watching Ava nap on the screen while going to town on that thumb. She rolled over to get away from the u/s wand at one point, and the u/s tech had to (pretty roughly) shake Tarynn’s belly to get her to move back. After getting the measurements she needed, and allowing me to sneak pics and even get a quick 3D look, we were on our way out with the good news that Ava tested negative for Down syndrome and Trisomy 18. We already knew this due to PGS/PGD testing before the transfer, but it is still nice to know.
We all had a relaxing lunch afterwards, and then I spent the rest of my day in Southern California hitting a major milestone: buying my first item/clothes for miss Ava. I was bummed Brooks could not make it down for the u/s, so I wanted to buy him something special.
We have all closed out the remaining weeks of the first trimester so excited, so grateful that the SCH is almost all but gone, and so curious to see how much more Ava is going to grow in the upcoming weeks! Tarynn has sent a few more belly shots and boy… Ava is a-GROWIN’ in there!
Brooks: Now that we are in the second trimester, I am most looking forward to Ava-related Christmas gifts this December, the baby shower in February, and continuously modifying the registry we have started a few dozen more times with Laura 😉 I didn’t realize there was so much research to be done! May just can’t get here soon enough.