Tuesday, for the first time, I heard their heartbeats. But let me get back to that.
Last week, Dr. Chao, our OB, had told me, in no uncertain terms, “you need to be at the first high-risk-pregnancy-specialist appointment with your wife. If your work won’t let you go, you need to call in sick. It’s important.” Fortunately, work was amenable, so, Tuesday morning, we headed to the Magella Medical Group in Long Beach.
It’s where you go when you’re pregnant with a disease or a disorder that puts you at risk. Or pregnant with a child with a disease or disorder that puts him/herself at risk. Or if there’s anything non-standard about anything having to do with your pregnancy. Like, say, you’re 53 and find out you’re carrying a litter of pumas.
Or, say, 34, with Lupus, carrying triplets.
It’s tricky how they set these appointments up. They spend the first 40 minutes or so filling you in on the 1,000 Reasons You Need To Worry. Doctor Tith was extremely warm and helpful, but she didn’t shy away from the truth. Fact is, any or all of our children could have CP. Or Down Syndrome. Or some sort of mental handicap. Or they could be sharing placentas and starving each other. Or choking each other. And, of course, for many of these issues, there are tests. The tests can tell you within a 60% certainty whether your child has an 8% chance of having some disorder that’s 28% fatal. Of course, you can take a more invasive test, which will give you 85% certainty, but you’ll increase your chances of miscarrying or delivering early by 13%, but only so early that your chances of it being fatally early are 38%. Or some ridiculous combo thereof.
So, great. Thanks everyone. Consider us informed. We feel way better.
Needless to say, halfway through this consult, I was convinced that at least one kid has some sort of fatal disease, the second one is going to be born with roughly half the organs it needs to sustain itself , and the third? Oh, the third one’s fine, but s/he’s probably going to wind up a vampire when s/he’s 21.
I know my wife did way better than I did, but my swimming brain did at least take away a handful of important pieces of information. Among them:
- Strong heartbeats= good
- 3 sacs = good
- 3 placentas = good
- The fact that these triplets are spontaneous, as opposed to IVF babies = moderately safer
So they took us in for the big ultrasound. Triplets meant we’d already hit the fertility jackpot. It was time to yank the lever again and find out what was heretofore unknown: are any of these goofballs sharing a placenta? If so, that doesn”t necessarily spell disaster, but Tith was straight with us: we should be hoping for 3 placentas.
Ultrasound began and we asked the tech, whose name is Michelle. Michelle confirmed it: “Yes, I see three placentas.”
Finally, some friggin’ good news for a change.
And it was strange. Here, only 11 weeks in, and they already seem to have different personalities. Onscreen, Baby A swatted something in front of its little alien head. Baby B kicked and flipped and did what it could to kung fu my wife’s innards. Baby C (who Chao calls The Lazy One) lounged up top in its amniotic hammock, irritated to have been bothered.
Michelle hit the vox and, out of nowhere, a very fast, very strong heartbeat filled the room, overpowering Love and Rockets’ So Alive, which had been playing on muzak. Baby A: 173 bpm. Looking good.
Baby B: 173 bpm. Very strong and looking good.
Baby C: 173 bpm. Everybody’s looking good. Our kids have heartbeats.
In the space of a few moments, the majority of Tith’s concerns turned out to be just fine, or at least as fine as they can be. And who knows, all of our children may end up with all of their organs. Maybe we wouldn’t miscarry. Maybe they’ll all be (sh-shudder) healthy.
We talked about my wife’s job and her diet and her at-the-moment woefully inadequate calorie intake. We found out later that, apparently, our case had been the talk of the office that morning. A 34-year-old vegan with Lupus who’s carrying spontaneous triplets? It’s odd. Throughout the appointment, different doctors and other staffers kept poking their heads in and smiling at us: “Hiiii! Sorry to interrupt, but I’m ___. We heard everything’s looking good. Congratulations!” Then they’d disappear. My wife is, it seems, medical journal case study fodder.
And it occurred to me that, as upset as we were when we found out we were having triplets, I now really want them all to be healthy and strong. In fact, I think I want it very badly. Maybe I’d even move heaven and earth if I have to to make sure they’re all right.
Good god. When did I turn into a father all of a sudden?