I worked in Las Vegas for a year, once. I liked it better than I had thought I would, and I discovered that there is a lot more to Sin City than casinos and the Strip. There are also climbers and bikers and hikers, suburbanites and pig farms and peach trees and canyons and restaurants. It is a city of many personalities, but there’s no getting away from the fact that it is a city of gamblers. There are slot machines everywhere in Vegas. They are at the airport and in grocery stores. It was sort of sad to me, seeing people at the slot machines in the entrance to a grocery store. I never could see how somebody could choose to make such an unprofitable (and if you ask me, boring) activity a part of their daily life.
It’s been years since my Vegas days, but I’ve begun to realize that there is more than one way to be a gambler. Pregnancy is a great example of this. When you become pregnant, you know that you’ve signed up for some discomfort. The type and amount of discomfort varies from woman to woman, particularly (so my “What to Expect” book says) in the first trimester. Nausea, headaches, sore breasts, heartburn, lack of energy… It’s like a game of Russian Roulette. What symptom are YOU going to have to put up with?
I’m 12 weeks along now, according to WTE, and apart from having to pee a lot, it’s hard to believe I’ve got a little person growing inside me. I feel fine. At least now I do.
A week and a half ago, my situation was a little different. Not to get TMI here, but it’s a frightening thing, bleeding when you are pregnant. Add to that over a week of menstrual period-like achiness, and you begin to wonder — Is something wrong? Were the four (yes, four) home pregnancy tests I took back in September somehow mistaken?
I’d been doing some reading, so when I scheduled my first doctor’s appointment I was pretty calm. While bleeding per se isn’t all that uncommon in the first trimester, heavier bleeding, especially accompanied by cramping, may be considered a sign of a “threatened miscarriage.” Many women who experience these symptoms during early pregnancy still deliver healthy babies. Others miscarry. And miscarriage is not that uncommon. The numbers are shocking, if you’ve never seen them before: According to WTE, it’s estimated that over 40% of conceptions end in miscarriage. 80% of miscarriages happen in the first trimester, and most of the time, the woman never even realizes she was pregnant.
From all this you may gather that I was ready for a grim prognosis. My doctor, who I’ll call Dr. K, was really nice. She looks about my age, and is in the first year of her residency program. We went through the normal lady-exam, and instead of jumping into questions about birth plans and family health histories, she took me right to the ultrasound room.
While I had been very calm and matter-of-fact up until this point, the moment I saw the blobby image of a healthy baby on the ultrasound, I lost it. Runny nose, tears streaming down the face, all that. It was the best possible combination of relief and surprise. Dr. K and her OBGYN supervisor moved the sensor around a bit and measured the baby’s heart rate: 150 beats per minute. I’ve only ever seen still photographs of ultrasounds in the past, and had always thought that they looked more like abstract art than a developing person. The experience is completely different in the exam room, when you can see the baby move around on the ultrasound screen. Head and limbs are easier to distinguish. I could even see the little heart beating. Dr. K said ultrasound images of babies at this stage look like gummy bears to her, and I have to agree — They kind of do.
The happiness of that first appointment was followed, later that same week, by my blood work results, and some more surprising news. My parents had always told me I was an A+ blood type, and thus far I’ve been fortunate enough to never have to question that information. Turns out I’m a different blood type entirely. It’s of little importance, really, but it’s the oddest feeling: Like being called Cathy your whole life, and then one day checking your birth certificate and discovering that your actual name is Jennifer. Except, it’s not like that really, because not knowing your own name would be a whole lot weirder.