Good news first, I know you’re waiting to hear it. One baby! Good heartbeat! Measuring 8w2d, so, a little ahead of schedule, but I’m not surprised. More on that in a bit. The important thing is that everything is wonderful and now I can let go of (well, most of) my oppressive anxiety and just be EXCITED! I think I’m going to buy yarn for a blankie!! And unpack all my maternity clothes!! And maybe rent a home doppler!!
Now, for the appointment play by play, because as I mentioned, I went to a local Japanese OBGYN and so necessarily it was a bit interesting. As a matter of fact, they have a website, which has a little bit of info in English (ish), if you are curious. My friend S was kind enough to go along with me, since (if I haven’t mentioned it before), Hubs’ ship is out to sea right now. She is a good friend, and she offered, and she knows her way around town really well which is handy because the clinic was not on my regular beaten path and was slightly challenging to find.
My appointment was at 9. We arrived early. The front desk staff only knew a few key English words, but fortunately the base medical translators had prepared some papers for me to hand them. They gave me some paperwork, in English (ish, again), to fill out, with oddly worded questions, like: “Marriage? YES/NO – Marriage age? ____” …. Now, does that mean how old I was when I got married, or how long I’ve been married? Hmmmmm.
After the paperwork I had to give a urine sample. The cups were waxed paper and came out of a dispenser in the bathroom, as if they were for swishing mouthwash or something. There was a marker next to them and a lot of blanks on the side of the cups, labeled in Kanji. I wrote my name in one of the blanks and left it at that. Then they told me to go to the height and weight and blood pressure stations. The blood pressure station was an automated machine you stick your arm into, and it prints out a little receipt. At this point, with my existing blood pressure issues, and my general unease with doctors / unfamiliar situations, and being so nervous about what the ultrasound might reveal, and after sitting in an extremely busy waiting room where they’ve been making very loud announcements in Japanese and then wandering around looking for the bathroom and then the various “stations” – well, my blood pressure was 161/75. WHOA. And I could feel that it was high at that moment. My pulse was definitely racing and my face was flushed… I handed the slip to the nurse, and she didn’t like it, so she checked it manually and got approximately the same. She told me “too high!” and then made me lie down on a gurney with a blanket and pillow, in a corner of the nursing station behind a curtain with the lights out, for 5 minutes. It was kind of bizarre, but when she took my BP again it was down to 138/68 (which is a borderline number over a just-fine number), so I would say that was an effective treatment! Later on when I talked to the doctor, she didn’t even mention the blood pressure, but I will see the doctor at the base clinic next week and talk about it with him. I am already expecting to end up on Labetalol again, but, we shall see. At this point, I went back to the waiting room.
And then I waited. And waited and waited and waited…. The nurses came calling out patients names and I was sure that when they said mine, I wouldn’t be able to understand it. A happy little jingle went off every so often over the intercom, and I have no idea why. Tiny Japanese ladies with giant pregnant bellies came in, got seen, left again. A few Americans came in, got seen, and left again. Apparently, new patients have to wait forever, and next time shouldn’t be so bad. That’s what I’m told anyway. Finally at about 10:30 (NINE A.M. APPOINTMENT! Japan is supposed to be punctual!) they came to get me.
I met the doctor. They set me up with a female doctor, who speaks decently good English – well, I’m pretty sure she understands better than she speaks. She’ll be Dr. A, which is in the doctor-naming-convention that I’ve already established, but is also all I actually remember of what her name was (even though I repeated it twice). (I am hopeless with Japanese names.) We went over my history, which of course is a lousy enough thing normally, and then having to make sure all the details are super clear over the language barrier… Ugh. And of course we got all the LMP date and that stuff on record.
Then it was time to go to the ultrasound room! They told me to strip from the waist down, which is a no brainer I guess, but they didn’t give me a gown or sheet or anything. S (yes, she was in the room with me) found a towel in a basket on a side table, though, so it wasn’t totally embarrassing. Then the CHAIR! You guys. I thought I would be able to find pictures of this thing on the internet, but I can’t, so I’ll have to find a way to covertly snap a shot next time so I can show you. It’s not the table with spindly stirrups that we’re used to seeing in the states. It looks a little like a dentist’s chair, sort of… Then you sit down, and it becomes a carnival ride. It swung around and tilted back and pulled my legs apart and lifted them up – craziness! In the chair’s final position, there’s a curtain from the ceiling going across my waist, so I have no idea how many people are on the other side able to see right up my vajayjay. They ask if I want the curtain open and I say yes, I do, so they pull it back behind my head. Only, then it’s between me and the ultrasound viewing screen. (By the way, there were only 2 ladies getting my full glory, Dr. A and one of the nurses.) The doc had a screen too, of course, but it was little and hard for me to see at that undignified angle. So I had them put the curtain back. And then…. ultrasound! Of which I already spoiled the surprise. But, for your patience, you are rewarded with a photo!
Yay!! Look at that glorious embryo. Dr. A said the head is to the left, body to the right. I did see the heartbeat flickering in the right half, so I suppose she knows what she is talking about. The thing I told you I had expected during the first ultrasound of pregnancy #1 – it being one of my all time best moments – that was true this morning. The relief!!! I didn’t cry, but it was close. Probably if S hadn’t been there, I would have.
So you can see noted on the side of the pic, my adorable little embryo is 16.5 mm long, which as I said at the beginning corresponds to 8w2d. LMP suggests 7w4d today, so, the measurement is 5 days ahead of the rough calculation I had been going by. In spite of the fact that this means I ovulated early (potentially CD9, by simple arithmetic), which is not something I’ve ever known my ovaries to do, it makes quite a lot of sense. I had what I thought was EWCM within about 3 days after my period ended, and it dried up before the CD14 time frame. Then the patch of red spotting and accompanying headache that I assume to be implantation day was CD19, so, that’s a much more appropriate length of time from fertilization to implantation than if we were assuming CD14 for O day. And then my first positive test was CD26, and it was way dark for an early test. So all in all, it seems pretty conclusive that the measurement-based estimated gestational age is probably right. However, Dr. A insisted on doing another ultrasound in 2 weeks to verify the dates, and who am I to argue with more baby-viewing opportunities?
The final cool thing about the Japanese clinic, then, was the process of making a new appointment. When I was all dressed and done, they gave me a little card, like a hotel key card, coded with my own unique stuff. And at the front desk, I put the card into a computer, and used a touch screen to schedule my own appointment (with a little guidance through the Japanese prompts by the desk staff). My next appointment date gets printed onto the card. And when I check in next time, I just plug in the card again, and away we go. Neat, huh?