Houston, we have a heartbeat!

Today was our 6-week scan, and it was perfect!  Last week’s squint-worthy fetal pole has metamorphosed into a recognizably humanoid little blob, with a big head and tiny limb buds… and most importantly, a heartbeat (130bpm, which our doctor told us was great!).  It’s measuring exactly one week bigger than the scan one week ago, now at 6w5d, which puts our EDD on February 18, 2016.  That’s a LONG way from now, but I’m having trouble keeping myself from imagining everything that would come along with a new little one joining our family around then — alive this time, please!

I really appreciated the way my doctor handled the scan today.  I had arrived early (I drove 1.5 hours from the conference I’ve been at all week, and I wanted to make sure to leave enough time in case I hit traffic).  They brought me into the exam room 15 minutes before my scheduled appointment time, and the doctor was there within five minutes. She said, “We really should see a heartbeat today, so let’s look first and talk after.”  There was no waiting — we just got straight to business.  She zoomed right in on the heartbeat, and said, “There it is!” and only afterwards did she go back and do all the measurements of the size of the embryo and its the heart rate.  I love that she was sensitive to my natural anxiety about finding out as quickly as possible whether there was a heartbeat — one of the awful things about the loss of our first pregnancy was that we’d done all this prenatal visit chatter about scheduling the routine anatomy scan and getting a flu shot and yadda, yadda… so it was enormous emotional whiplash to then have to go through the deafening silence of the Doppler and the ultrasound.  I’m going to ask my regular OB if she can do the same for all my prenatal visits: confirm the heartbeat before we talk.  It really made things easier today.

The thing my doctor fumbled on was starting me on Lovenox injections.  Last week she’d told us that assuming everything looked good this week, she’d immediately start me on Lovenox and that they’d teach me how to do the injections.  Well, she certainly prescribed the Lovenox and instructed me to start immediately… but then she seemed sort of flustered about the whole “teaching” business.  She asked the nurse, “Do you remember whether it comes in a pen or a syringe?” and the nurse was like, “No…” and then the doctor said to me, “Oh, well, it’s easy.  It’s subcutaneous, just like insulin!”  When I gave her a blank look (I’m not a diabetic), she said, “Oh, it’s just like [fertility medication brand name], have you done that before?”  Another blank look.  When she eventually asked if I’d ever given myself an injection before and I said no, she said, “Oh, well, I’ll go look up the information about how they package it, and then we’ll teach you.”  A few minutes later the nurse came back in, handed me a printed paper packet of instructions, and said, “So, you just grab your side, like this, and then you inject into the skin fold.”  She searched around the room for something to demonstrate with, grabbed a pen from her pocket, and proceeded to fake-jab herself with a pen.  At this point it was clear that this was all the instruction I was going to get, so I thanked her and filed the information away so I could start googling when I got home!  My mom (the women’s health nurse practitioner) called to ask how my appointment had gone, and laughed about the “instruction” I’d gotten for injecting Lovenox.  She gave me a few other pointers that the nurse had forgotten (rotate injection sites, don’t rub the site, etc.), and then said, “Oh, you’ll figure it out — it’s not rocket science!”  Ha, ha, Mom — she loves to say stuff like that to me. 🙂

I’m still being closely monitored for the next few weeks.  Next week is my first appointment with maternal-fetal medicine.  They’ll be doing monthly ultrasounds to catch any sign of fetal growth restriction or problems with the placenta, since my first pregnancy ended with a placental abruption which gives me a ~30% risk of placenta-related complications this time around (thankfully only a 7% chance of a repeat abruption).  The week after that it’s back for my last appointment with the reproductive endocrinologist, and then I get handed off to my local OB.  It only takes two to make a baby (in our case)… but sometimes it takes a village of doctors to get through pregnancy, apparently!

So, here I am, with two beating hearts inside me (one very small and very fast!), about to try injecting myself for the first time in a college dorm room at a science conference.  Life is weird sometimes.  Wish me luck!

(Edited to add: I did it!  I injected myself!  I was shaking like a leaf, and could barely get the plunger down, but I managed it.  It must get easier with practice, right?)


17 thoughts on “Houston, we have a heartbeat!

  1. My Perfect Breakdown

    I am elated for you right now!!! Honestly, this news just made my night!! I am just so excited. I know it’s still early, but to have this good of an early appointment is reassuring to me. I hope you continue to get more good news scans in the coming weeks!
    Also, I also love your mom’s comment about the shot and the fact that you did and rocked it! 🙂

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Aw, thank you so much! It was really reassuring to see that little flickering heartbeat (and hear it — ultrasound machines are amazing!). I know that for normal people seeing a heartbeat brings the risk of miscarriage down to about 5%, and while I know with my history I’m not normal, I’m still taking it as a very good sign. We still have to get through screenings for chromosomal abnormalities and the anatomy scan, but I’m really working hard at taking things one step at a time. At this step, things are looking great!

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Thank you!!! And welcome back — I hope you’re feeling recovered. I had no idea if 130 was good or not (I couldn’t remember what our last baby was at this stage), so I asked, and it was nice to hear the doctor gush over just how good it was. 🙂 And thank you for the congratulations on managing to inject myself — I wasn’t that worried about it, since I’m not particularly needle-phobic, but when I was sitting there with the needle over my skin, it suddenly became really scary! So, I’m counting that first jab as an accomplishment. 🙂

  2. newchancesnewhope

    I am so incredibly happy for you – what amazing news!! I was looking out all day for your update! A small bit of peace of mind – it really sounds very promising especially with a nice strong heartbeat! xx

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Aw, thank you! I’m so happy that things are going well for both of us. Here’s to bouncing February babies down the road! 🙂

    1. lyra211 Post author

      That’s really good to hear. 🙂 When we went to the IVF seminar, the psychologist told everyone that one of the side benefits of doing all the IVF injections is that you quickly get over any needle anxiety or phobia you might have had going in! Also a side benefit to high-risk pregnancy with a clotting disorder, I guess! 🙂 Thanks for your well wishes!

  3. Wifey

    Yay, yay, yay!!! Soooooo happy baby has a strong, healthy heartbeat. I started Lovenox on Tuesday. I had done injections before and my IVF nurse gave *some* additional instruction, but I also went to the Lovenox website and watched the video. The thing that I’m finding confusing and different with this injection is that it’s a pre-filled syringe with a needle guard. None of my other injections are like that. So, I totally messed up my first one because I inadvertently activated the needle guard before I ever injected it so it was a waste. Then, I noticed after I give myself the shot and then activate the needle guard, some more of the medicine comes out. I assume the overfill the syringe to account for that, but I’m not sure. Did yours do that? I probably need to email my IVF nurse. What dosage are you taking (if you don’t mind)? Mine is 40 and so far, it hasn’t stung as bad as they said it would.

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Aw, yay, thank you!!! Yes, I had two issues with some of the medication coming out — so glad to hear it’s not just me! When I first took off the cap there was a tiny drop of medication that came out of the syringe, so I just plunged it in with the little drop hanging off, and then when I pulled it out and started to activate the needle guard I also had the tiny drop hanging off at the end. So, with a sample size of two, maybe it’s normal? I’m also on 40/day — as you say, hopefully they overfill the syringe a bit to account for these issues. It was fine going in for me but stung for a few minutes afterward — nothing I couldn’t handle, but I wish someone had warned me! And that’s a shame about accidentally activating the needle guard the first time! This medication is so ridiculously expensive that it’s a shame to waste any (even with insurance, it looks like I’m going to have to pay $50 every 12 days! I think I’ll hit my out-of-pocket max for the year soon, at least…). Let me know if your IVF nurse tells you anything useful — any more information would be super-helpful! Good luck with your new cycle!

      1. Wifey

        Mine seemed to squirt out a decent amount when I activated the guard so it made me nervous. I have emailed my nurse and I will definitely let you know what my she says. That’s an expensive co-pay! With DH having CF we meet our out of pocket max in January 😳 that’s sort of good and sort of bad, I guess!

      2. Wifey

        My nurse said she was having a hard time visualizing what I was describing so she wants me to bring one of my syringes with me to transfer tomorrow and talk about it in person. We will see what they tell me.

      3. Wifey

        Another update for you: I’ve talked to my pharmacist and the manufacturer of the prefilled syringe and I was told that I should not activate the needle guard while the needle is in my stomach, that it is normal to see some “splatter of medication” when activating the guard and that I “should not be concerned” that I am not getting the full dosage. I still don’t like it and I think it’s a design flaw, but I guess I will just trust that I’m getting all the medication.

      4. lyra211 Post author

        Ah, thanks for all the info! I had not been activating the needle guard before pulling out the needle, so that’s good — that sounds like it would be scary! But it’s good to know that some splatter of medication is normal when activating the needle guard even after you think you’ve injected all the medication — for me it was really only a couple of tiny drops, so that seems reasonable. Was it much more for you? Yeah, I don’t like the needle guard either — it freaks me out, and makes me worried that I’m going to accidentally activate it before the proper time!

      5. lyra211 Post author

        I thought I’d update to add: after three injections, I’ve had one time where a little medication squirted out when I activated the needle guard, and then last night it seemed like a lot squirted out at the end! How are the injections going for you?

  4. hopingforatakehome

    Yay!!! What great news about the heartbeat and that doctor handled the scan with such sensitivity. I’ve never injected myself with anything but I know I would be intimidated by that. Sounds like you handled it really well. It must feel good to have those first couple of injections under your belt now.

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Thanks so much for your excitement on our behalf! I’ve only got one injection under my belt so far, but the first must also be the worst, right? 🙂 I did really appreciate the doctor’s sensitivity — I mean, I know she works with a lot of infertile and high-risk women, but she was still really nice about it.


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