This week was the week of our second doctor’s appointment–the appointment where they try to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
I had been having some pretty severe lower back pain and cramping for a few days. On Wednesday night my abdomen was so tender that a gentle bump by Adam sent me into tears. By Thursday things were starting to improve, but they certainly weren’t perfect.
The doctors had little to offer in terms of answers besides Tylenol and warm compresses. “It’s a little early to be getting lower back pain. That’s something that will typically show up in the second trimester.” That was until they looked at the size of my belly.
When I laid back on the exam table, my doctor immediately remarked on how large my belly was. “Wow! You’re big. Maybe it is possible that you’re having lower back pain already.” They started asking questions about if Adam and I were sure that I wasn’t a month further along in my pregnancy than we had reported.
My doctor then tried to find the baby’s heartbeat. After 10 minutes of searching, the best she could find was my own heartbeat. She asked us to come back the following morning to have an ultrasound to locate the baby and see its heartbeat, and also to confirm that there was only one baby. Given the size of my belly, it was possible we were expecting up to three babies.
The next morning we had the ultrasound. After spotting the baby immediately, the ultrasound technician did a thorough check to confirm that there weren’t any other pregnancies.
Rather than hear the heartbeat, we were able to see our little one’s heartbeat beating at over 170 beats per minute. We could see its legs and arm buds twitching–a sight that took Adam by surprise and got him choked up.
Next we had a consultation with a physician to go over the results of the ultrasound. The baby looked great and was measuring one day older than what we had projected. Then we got the news that explained why I was measuring so large.
They had also found a growth on the upper part of my uterus, a uterine fibroid. It was something that I had likely had for a very long time, but it was now prominent because of pregnancy hormones. It was positioned so that almost all of it was on the outside of my uterus. This was good news as it meant it wasn’t inhibiting the baby’s growth. We learned that uterine fibroids are relatively common in women–approximately 40-50% of women have them. What made my case abnormal was the size of the fibroid. It was measuring at over 12cm which already classified it in the “very large” category.
We were told that normally nothing is done to remove a fibroid–surgery often ends up creating more problems than just leaving them alone. In non-pregnant women, they can easily be managed and treated with ibuprofen. Since I was pregnant, the best we could do at this point was monitor its growth and do our best to manage any pain associated with it. Some women aren’t bothered by their fibroids at all, while for others it can be quite painful.
We left with a referral to maternal fetal medicine specialists, and a lot of information swirling in our heads.