The scan continued in silence. When my husband questioned the tech about something he saw on the screen, reflexively, I turned back to see... a beautiful flicker in the second sac. I cried and thanked God for this incredible miracle. And then, as the scan continued, we saw another unmistakable flicker in the third sac. These were the beautiful heartbeats of our children. They were amazingly strong, despite having been through a major bleeding episode. I was absolutely in awe at the life inside of me - and the fact that the babies were still there.
In addition to confirming my twin pregnancy, the ultrasound also revealed a chorionic hematoma, certainly the cause of my bleeding (and the loss of one of the three babies). Also referred to as a threatened miscarriage, a chorionic hematoma is the pooling of blood between the membranes surrounding the embryo and the wall of the uterus. Apparently, it's the most common cause of first trimester bleeding (something I had never experienced with any of my previous pregnancies, and frankly didn't want to know anything about). It's uncertain what causes it, but some think that during implantation, the egg slightly separates or tears from the uterus causing a bleed. Chorionic hematoma is a threat in pregnancy because the clot itself can cause a miscarriage. The clot can release completely from the uterus and cause the baby and placenta to miscarry. Blood in the uterus is an irritant, so it can also lead to miscarriage by causing contractions.
For now, I continue to spot, so my doctor has put me on medical leave with limited activity and pelvic rest (uh, huh) for two weeks. I am to keep my feet up and drink as much water as possible (to keep my uterus hydrated). I knew this pregnancy would be high-risk, but I never imagined things could get complicated so early.
Seeing those two beautiful little heartbeats has given me some reassurance, but I'm still consumed with worry. Logically, I know there's nothing I did to cause the hematoma, but I still feel guilty. Maybe my 45-year old body is not the ideal vessel to safely grow and nurture the precious life inside? Maybe it was selfish of me to want to get pregnant at my age?
Despite the guilt, I do feel certain that I will make a better parent at this stage in my life than I would have in my younger years. I won't be a perfect mother, but I will be a good one. The babies I am carrying were so wanted and will be so loved. So for now, I will try to fight the thoughts of guilt and fault - and concentrate on doing everything I can to help ensure those tiny flickers grow stronger.