A beating heart and a world of possibilities

A month after the embryo implantation and two weeks after our first scan to confirm everything was on track, we were back at Dr Patel’s offices for an early morning scan. At about 7 or 8 weeks, there was bound to be more to see this time, and we were not disappointed.

We had a basic idea of what to expect, having followed the development of our little “Spot” on a multitude of apps and in a variety of books. We know that he / she had now evolved into something completely alien, but totally awe-inspiring and we were both completely in love with him / her. When Dr Patel said she was going to check the heart rate, my heart nearly stopped. This was it, we were going to hear the beating heart of our tiny human…

Hearing the thumpity-thump of that tiny little heartbeat for the first time is a feeling unlike any other – and not one you ever get used to. If you don’t have (or aren’t expecting) kids, it’s difficult to describe the overwhelming nature of the feelings that wash over you in that moment. You’re hearing the heartbeat of something – no, someone – you made!! A soon-to-be-human being that is only in existence because of actions you took. I know they say pregnancy hormones wreak havoc on your body and mind, but I’m pretty sure you can’t attribute all of it to the hormones. I mean, even Becs was crying!

We left the doctor’s rooms absolutely euphoric – as if hearing the beating of that tiny heart had validated every moment of sadness and heartache we’d experienced through our journey.

Over the months that followed I was very lucky – only minimally affected by the trauma of first trimester symptoms, like morning sickness – and by 12 weeks we were almost free and clear, just one last hurdle before we could share our happy news… The dreaded down syndrome tests.

The first photoshoot

It was almost three weeks after the embryo implantation and just one week after the false negative the preceded the confirmed positive. We’d arrived at the doctor’s office for a scan to confirm everything was progressing as it should. According to the charts, etc. we were ±6 weeks pregnant – bearing in mind that you don’t start counting from conception, but rather from the date of your last period (don’t worry, I didn’t know that either).

Before we went into the scan room, we sat with our doctor in her consultation room as she explained what, in an ideal world, we should see. She explained that we could see any one of the first three stages of pregnancy on this scan – an egg sack, with a yolk sack, or either of the first two stages of a new foetus. She sketched the three stages to give us an indication of what to look out for and the three of us excitedly headed into the scan room.

It was a pretty nerve-wracking time, waiting for something – anything – to appear on that screen, to confirm the blood tests hadn’t raised our hopes for nothing. I gripped Becs’s hand tightly as we both stared expectantly at the screen. “There is it,” Dr Patel announced, pointing to a blob on the screen, “a good-looking egg and yolk sack, so about 5 weeks.” My heart almost exploded! There it was – our little Spot – right there for all to see!

We were over the moon, and officially pregnant! Immediately after the appointment we posted the pics Becs had taken of the scans to our family Whatsapp groups and shared the joyous confirmation. Our little Spot was scheduled to arrive around Christmas time. The previous December, when we’d done our last official IUI attempt, Becs had joked that “maybe we’d get a baby for Christmas” because the results were due just before Christmas. As it turned out, she’d been right, we just hadn’t specified which Christmas.


Two days after the first blood test came back positive and we’d shared our big news with the family, I had to go for a follow up test to make sure the readings of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) had at least doubled. On Sunday, 24 April I duly headed in the direction of the hospital for a repeat of the test.

Form in hand I entered the pathology lab and eagerly sat in the waiting room. I was an understandably different person to the one I’d been two days previously. When my name was called, I bounced up and headed into the consultation room. I jovially chatted to the nurse while I pumped my fist, bringing my veins to the surface. I smiled happily as she poked a needle into my arm and drew the bloods. I thanked her emphatically as I secured the plaster, rushed out the door, and bounced up the stairs and out of the hospital.

A few hours later, I called the number our doctor’s receptionist – Muneerah – had given us to get the results. She said to say I was calling from the doctor’s rooms and they’d give me the results. I dialled the number as I nervously paced around the garden. When the lady answered, I told her I was calling from Dr Patel’s rooms, requesting results for a patient. My heart was in my throat. She then asked me for the practice’s account number… My heart sank.

Starting to panic that I’d have to wait until the next day for the results, I told her I didn’t have it with me. She then told me to get the patient to call and she would give the results directly to the her. Sweet relief. I called back almost immediately, resolved to disguise my voice if the same lady answered, which she did. I didn’t disguise my voice, my heart was racing too much to think of anything other than getting those results.

She must’ve known it was me, her voice had a “hmmm, you again?” quality to it, which I studiously ignored. I told her what I was calling for and she said she’d email the results to the email address on file. I thanked her and hung up, and headed back inside while opening the email app on my phone.

I must’ve refreshed 100 times a second until the email eventually came through, what seemed like ages later. I called Becs and the two of us read and reread the email. At the first test, my result had been 103. This one was 319.5. That meant it was definitely positive, right? Becs and I looked at each other and back at the mail, I read the results out aloud, we looked back at each other and immediately burst into tears as the reality of our situation began to sink in. We were for sure pregnant!


The best and worst day

During the agonising two weeks that followed the embryo implantation, we had a number of ups and downs. Having committed to being positive and trusting in the universe to bring our little bundle of joy to us, we tried not to focus on the downs, but sometimes that was easier said than done.

I had occasional sharp pains – similar to period pains – which caused panicked moments for both of us. We consulted a number of blogs and forums, absorbed every bit of information we could find, hoping to find solace in knowledge. A lot of the blogs and forums said post-implantation pain was totally normal and that it could be the embryo burrowing its way into the lining of the uterus, creating a more permanent home for itself. We took this to be a good sign and tried to keep ourselves distracted with our day-to-day lives.

Twelve days after the embryo implantation date – the day we’d been told to go for the blood test – happened to be my mom’s birthday. Wouldn’t that be an awesome birthday present for my mom?! I had a series of meetings in the morning, which meant I’d only be able to go for the test at lunchtime. Knowing we’d likely to die of anticipation if we had to wait until the afternoon to find out, Becs had bought a stock-standard pee-test for the morning before we left for work.

As you would on the day you’re due to leave for holiday, I woke up early, thanks to the excitement the day promised, and could barely contain myself. At about 05:30, I decided I couldn’t wait anymore and Becs woke up to the sound of me scratching in the medicine cupboard for the pee-test. She immediately knew what I was up to and eagerly perched herself on the edge of the bed to wait for the results.

In case you were wondering, peeing on a 1cm wide piece of plastic in near-dark with half-open eyes is no mean feat, but I managed. I placed the stick on a piece of toilet paper on the bathroom counter, washed my hands and went to wait the instructed 5 minutes. Let me tell you, that was the longest 5 minutes of my life!

Becs and I read and re-read the instructions and eventually, unable to contain ourselves, went back to the bathroom to check the results. Negative. What? My world crashed down around me. We consulted the instructions again to make sure we’d read the results correctly. How could it be? We’d been so sure this was it. We were totally convinced this was our time to get it right, so how could the test be negative? But there is was, as clear as day, only one little red line. We were devastated. We crawled back into bed, curled into one another and cried in each other’s arms until the alarm went off.

The rest of the day passed in a blur, the tears never far from my eyes. I sat through my meetings, adding little-to-no value, barely managing to keep it together. But, the doctor still needed a blood test to confirm the results – after all, she hadn’t seen the pee-stick. So at lunch time I got into my car and drove to the hospital.

I walked into the hospital, across the reception and down the stairs to the pathology labs in a total daze. I walked in, half greeted the sister and handed her my form. She called me through almost immediately. Sensing my apathy towards the process (and possibly seeing my puffy red eyes), she didn’t make the usual friendly banter with me. Having filled the vials, I thanked her and walked out, up the stairs, across the reception and out to my car. I don’t even remember the drive back to the office, I was on some other planet.

About two hours later, my phone rang. It was the receptionist from the doctor’s office to give me the results. Worried I’d burst into tears again; I went into a private meeting room to take the call. Dejectedly, I answered, “Hello?”

“Barbara, it’s Muneerah from Dr Patel’s office. Your results have come back and it’s positive. The reading should be more than seven and yours is 103, so it’s definitely a positive.” It took a while for her words to wash over me, to sink through the blur of my heart-broken psyche and into my consciousness. When they eventually did, I sat straight up.

“Pardon Muneerah, could you please repeat that?” I asked, barely willing to believe my ears.

“It’s positive – congratulations! Now you need to go for another test in 48-72 hours to check the levels have doubled, but it’s definitely a positive.”

I thanked her emphatically and immediately dialled Becs’s number. She answered in much the same way I had answered Muneerah’s call – half-heartedly and with a tone of abject dejection. I asked her how her day had been. “Terrible,” she replied. When I asked her if I could make it better, she hardly perked up, the possibilities unlikely to have even crossed her mind. “Sure,” she said, “you can try.”

“Muneerah just called, the blood tests results are positive – we’re pregnant!” She was silent for a second before almost screaming down the phone, “I knew it! I knew that stupid pee-test was wrong!”

The rest of the afternoon passed in a blur of who-knows-what. We were pregnant, nothing else mattered to either of us! That night we were going to be able to give my mom the best birthday present ever!