Heartbreak averted

August 13, 2009

This baby I’m carrying doesn’t like being tracked by doppler.

After spending half an hour in the waiting room before my appointment (extra fun when you can feel anxiety building with every passing minute), I sat through the routine questions and chart updates.  Then my doctor pulled out the gel (N and I keep joking that we should have purchased stock in gel.  It seems like I’ve been through enough of it in the past two years to single-handedly support the industry that makes it) and started hunting for baby’s heartbeat with the doppler.  My heartbeat was very loud, but baby’s couldn’t be found.

And after several minutes, still couldn’t be found.  Again.  And while the doctor was reassuring and seemed to think that everything would be fine, it felt like she wasn’t quite so reassuring as she’d been when this happened at our last prenatal appointment.  She stepped out to warm up the ultrasound machine, while N and I stewed and sweated in the exam room.

It felt like hours before we were able to move down to the ultrasound room, though it was probably only minutes.  Then, after what felt like a another small eternity, the inside of my uterus showed up on the screen with a still, tiny figure floating in the middle of it.  I couldn’t see the heartbeat or any movement; I was certain we were doomed.  And, just then, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, kick! We watched him/her wiggle enthusiastically for several minutes, obviously and emphatically alive.  My doctor speculated that this child of mine may have been moving around too much for the doppler to pick up the heartbeat. I’m so relieved I can barely function.

As we walked into the parking lot I looked down at my belly and said, “Kid,” in the sternest tone I could muster, and N put his hand on my belly and said (to my belly), “We’re so glad you’re okay.”  Then, to me: “No scolding the baby just yet.”

He’s right, of course, but even if things go really, really well, I think I’ll have a head full of white hair before this child even hits the teenage years.

I should be so lucky.



  1. Shit Erica. This happened to me with Hope (but I seriously laughed it off, because I mean of course the baby was alive, they just couldn’t find her) but then it happened again with this new boy, at almost 14 weeks, and I just about lost it. I know what you mean about minutes feeling like hours. I’m so glad your little one is ok. Thank god the title of this post gave the happy ending away, because I was still reading this with my heart in my hands.

  2. Oh – thank goodness. I had one of those same sort of scares at around 16 weeks in the doctor’s office with my subsequent pregnancy with C.T. We too needed to use the US equipment to see him thriving.

    I’m just so glad he/she is okay.

  3. Shit, yes, having an ultra-sound qualifies as one of the most awful moments during pregnancy. Other women go to their visits filled with excitement at the thought of seeing their baby, and I go with baited breath to see a heart-beat. Every. Single. Time.

    Thank goodness your baby is just enjoying his/her space and is avoiding the doppler!!!

  4. How scary. So glad that he/she was found afterall.

  5. The exact same thing happened to me with Sunflower…scared the $%&* out of me…but we had the same happy ending solved by yet another u/s.

  6. argh. the anxiety is getting to me too! Those moments, waiting with the dopplar, then waiting to get into the room – those are so stressful. Just have the us machine ready!

    glad he is just shy!

  7. So glad the little one is okay!

    And, yeah, that gel…the brand name of the kind they use here is the same as our last name. My husband and I noticed this during one scan in our series of awful ultrasounds (we had five weeks of complications and weekly ultrasounds leading to our daughter’s stillbirth at 27 weeks 5 days) and for some reason it struck us both as funny – what an odd product to share a name with.

  8. PS. I just reread my comment and I didn’t mean to sound like I was complaining about 5 weeks of complications. I’ve read Teddy’s story and I’m very grateful I only had to worry about my baby for 5 weeks – very short compared to what you went through.

    • No worries, Erika, truly. Five weeks is definitely five weeks too long to have to worry about your baby.

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