What a Week – Messages About My Donor, My Mass, and My Third Anatomy Ultrasound

(I see my OB more than I see my friends).

Part One: Is This Your Donor?

24 hours after I wrote my blog post about my donor, I received an email via my personal Facebook.

“Hi there! Totally random message haha but I saw your name on a Fairfax forum and I was wondering if this is the same person. Sorry to sound like a creep.”

It was in my “secret” inbox (where you get Facebook messages from people that aren’t on your list of friends).

I stared at the message for a minute. How did this person know my real name? Why wasn’t she messaging me on sarahseekingbaby?

Then it hit me. I had used my real name as my username on the Fairfax Sibling Registry Donor Page. I had typed a message asking if anyone used the same donor as me. How stupid was I? Why had I used my real name?

I clicked on the photo of the woman who had written to me and saw that she was married, living in the United States, and liked hunting turkeys.

“Haha! Totally is” I wrote back.

“Oh good! I was wondering what your experience was with using that donor and how many times it took if you don’t mind me asking. My husband and I are using a sperm donor and doing IUI. We searched and searched and he has made it to our number 1 choice.”

I wrote back about how much I loved the donor and how it had only taken me one round of IUI to get pregnant using his sperm. I gave as much information as I could and logged off.

Before I could figure out how I felt, I received a direct message on Instagram from someone that followed me on sarahseekingbaby.

“Is this your donor?” the woman asked, complete with a baby picture of my donor.

“Yes” I quickly typed back.

She explained that she originally wanted him to be her donor but he said some things in his interview that made her change her mind.

“Such a small world” I wrote back.

Then I started getting more questions from other people on Instagram.

“Is your donor number -”

There were a lot of messages and I was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable but I didn’t know why. 

I started worrying that I had given away way too many details about my donor. So many details that people were starting to identify him. 

I wanted my baby to be the first one to find out who the donor was. I wanted to allow him the decision to connect with his donor siblings if he wanted to.  Then I started to feel terrible.

I tried to delete my Fairfax (sperm bank) account and I couldn’t do it. 

“Please delete my username and delete my account at this time” I typed in an email to Fairfax. 

Then I went back to my blog from last week and deleted as many details as I could. Within 24 hours two people had identified him and I started to become worried that it would keep happening.

All of this was so new to me. I needed time to decide how I felt about donor siblings. I needed time to figure out if I should reach out to other people. It was all happening too fast so I shut it all down.

Have not heard from anyone since Monday evening which has given me peace. Sometimes the world is just too small.

Part Two: The Mass

On Wednesday I went for my Research Ultrasound at Mount Sinai (part of a group in a study where they are studying placenta).

“I need to tell you something” I said to the physician doing my ultrasound. “They detected a mass on my right side and I don’t know what it is.”

“Well let’s have a look” said the physician.

She stared at it for about ten minutes and showed me what it looked like on the screen.

“It is your appendix” she said. “You aren’t in any major pain? They didn’t do an MRI?”

“No to all of the above” I said.

“This is a little tricky but I am not giving up” she said.

After about five minutes of her magnifying the mass a smile formed on her face.

“I can say with 100% certainty that this is an ovarian cyst. Did you take fertility medication when you were trying to get pregnant?”

“Yes” I said.

“It was caused by that” she said.

I wanted to hug her. She didn’t need to look into the mass for me. I was having my anatomy ultrasound on Thursday. She gave me all of the answers that I needed and calmed me right down.

She then proceeded to do the research ultrasound but baby boy was moving around far too much. In fact, she got a picture of him with his foot near his eye. 

From there, I went to my OB for an appointment.

“If you have a c-section, we will remove your cyst” said my OB right after I had the research ultrasound. “You also have low-lying placenta right now. Hopefully it gets better as your pregnancy progresses or you will have to have a  c-section.”

After my appointments on Wednesday went well, I was just hoping that Thursday my anatomy ultrasound (where they measure the baby) would be okay.

Part Three: Anatomy Ultrasound #3

“How are you feeling?” asked my Mom as soon as she saw me.

“Okay. Just super nervous” I said.

(Instagram Poll: Can This Please Be My Last Anatomy Ultrasound?)

After my second anatomy ultrasound where they found the mass, my mother stated that someone was going to accompany me to my next appointment. I had a choice – my brother in law (because he works from home) or her (because she is retired). I couldn’t even imagine my brother-in-law taking any of this information in so of course, I went with my Mom.

(Waiting at the Ultrasound)

The appointment was for 2:30 and by 3:00 my ultrasound was being done by the nicest woman, named Erin. Erin did my first anatomy ultrasound where she wasn’t able to get anything.

“He is moving around a lot today” she said.

“Please tell me I won’t have to come back” I said. “What is the record for someone coming back to have an anatomy ultrasound?”

“This has to be the final one. They won’t go over three. If we can’t get it right now, you’ll wait and have it done later tonight.”

I suddenly wondered how late they were open.

“This is such a miracle” said my Mom watching everything. She gave me constant updates on what baby boy was doing. 

“He is kicking. His butt is facing down. He is flipping over. He has a nose like you.”

During an anatomy ultrasound you can”t see the screen so you are just staring at the wall forever.

“He is not in the right position” said Erin. “We are going to need you to move.”

For over an hour, I was moved into various positions.

“Okay” said Erin. “I hope we are done. We shall see what the doctor says. Please just wait in the hall.

(Picture of Baby Boy at Anatomy Ultrasound)

We waited and waited and waited.

In fact, we spotted Erin in her coat. 

“I am leaving for the day” she said. “The doctor hasn’t had a chance to look at the pictures yet but I think they are okay. If not, she will do the ultrasound again.”

“Fingers crossed” I laughed.

Then we waited and waited.

The ultrasound area closed up for the day. I had never seen the floor for Mount Sinai so empty.

(Last Ultrasound Patient)

Sure there were a couple people – some having naps, some crying and being guided to “Special Pregnancy” or “High-Risk”, some on their phones trying to take their mind off the long wait.

“Sarah?” asked a doctor who came out beside the ultrasound area.

I felt sick to my stomach as soon as I saw her. I had seen her call patients after their ultrasound and then patients would leave in tears. I had heard “this is not a big deal but —–” said to so many people.

“Yes?” I asked.

“You can go home!” she smiled.

Baby boy had officially graduated! No more anatomy ultrasounds for this little one! 

“How do you feel?” asked my Mom.

“So relieved” I said with the biggest smile on my face. 

I finally felt at peace.

“What a week” I said with a smile.

Every week in pregnancy has been a massive learning experience for me. 

This week I learned that I don’t want to be too open about my donor and need to respect my donor/my baby/my privacy a bit more. I also learned so much about my body and the growth and development of this little one.

It only makes me wonder, what will I learn in the week ahead?

The Ultrasound That Took a Drastic Turn

(Baby rolling onto side)

During every ultrasound I’ve had, I have worried about Baby Boy’s health. Little did I know, I also had to worry about my own.

The anatomy ultrasound started out okay. My name was called and I was led into a room by a nurse/technician. She had me lie on my back and explained the importance of the ultrasound. She explained that this was the most important ultrasound because they needed clear pictures to show my doctor of Baby Boy’s heart, spine, brain, arms, and legs. From there, my doctor would look at the pictures to ensure that the baby was developing properly.

Within about ten minutes, the nurse said “you are going to have to come back.”

“Come back?” I asked.  “He isn’t sitting still again?”

“He is doing flips right now” she said.

She was also concentrating on an area on the right of my body at my lower stomach.

I tried to think about other things – who was my favourite housewife in the Real Housewives franchise? What colour should I paint my nails next? What should I get to eat after this?

“Okay, we are done. As you can see by the picture, your baby was turned on his side and you will have to make another appointment to see the doctor. Please wait outside and they will call you.”

I looked at my watch and noticed that only thirty minutes had passed since I first walked in the door.  Normally, these scans take at least an hour.

I grabbed a seat and started texting my family. 

“I have to come again” I texted in our family chat. “He just kept doing flips.”  

Then I moved onto Instagram where I posted the picture of Baby Boy and explained that I had to come back.

“Sarah?” asked another nurse.

“Yes?” I said. “I don’t think you have the right Sarah though. I am just supposed to be booking my next appointment.”

My sister and I always laughed when my name was called because every time we were at an appointment, there were always 2-3 “Sarah’s” and I was always last to see the doctor.

I told her my last name and she said “follow me.”

That was the first time I knew something was wrong.  

“The doctor just wants to see if she can get a better look at baby” she said.

I was so thankful. Would this mean that I wouldn’t have to make another appointment?

“This is amazing” I said.  

I made sure to lie down, lower my leggings and pull up my shirt so that I could expose my belly. I was ready for my ultrasound with the doctor.

“Hi, Sarah. I am doctor Eliza and you don’t need to show your belly just yet. I have a couple questions for you.”

That was the second time I knew something was wrong.

Why didn’t she just want to do another ultrasound? The other nurse said they just needed another ultrasound. 

I could feel my anxiety rising and I just took a couple of breaths and tried to stay as present in the moment as possible.

“We found something on the scan and I just wanted to make sure that you are okay before we have you leave today. It may be your appendix, a cyst, or a fibroid. Your baby is totally okay but it is you we are worried about. We have found a 2 mm mass. It wasn’t on any other ultrasound so it is new.”

All I could think about was how happy I was that everything was okay with the baby. At that moment, I realized that the health of the baby was somehow number one for me and my health was number two. When did I start caring more about the health of my baby than my own health?

“I haven’t been feeling well” I admitted. “In fact, just yesterday I called into the Nurses Station because I haven’t been able to keep food down and it is getting worse. I am 21 weeks but I just feel nauseous and horrible all the time.”

“Have you had a fever?” she asked.

“Yes, one day last week but it went down with Tylenol. Last night I went out to buy a thermometer to keep an eye on everything.”

“I am so glad we didn’t have you leave then. I think it is your appendix.”

That was the third time I knew something was wrong.

I had absolutely no control.  

“I love your dress” I said to the doctor. 

When I am anxious, I won’t shut up. Words just started coming out of my mouth.

It was true – I loved her green dress and loved her sweet personality. We started chatting about how she was from Australia but came here because of the amazing facility at Mount Sinai. She hadn’t experienced her first winter here but so far she loved Canada.

I kept looking at the doctor and thinking she looked like Amy Schumer (the comedian). I was then worried about telling her that. What if she took offence to that and thought Amy Schumer wasn’t pretty. I thought she was pretty.

“I just need to go and get a second opinion” she said.

That was the fourth time I knew something was wrong.

It felt like forever.  It was probably only two minutes but I was just staring at the ceiling in a dark room with my stomach exposed. The ultrasound machine was right beside me and I just needed a hug. Could I hug a machine that was radiating heat? 

Why had I chosen to come to this appointment alone? Why was I trying to be so independent? 

“Hello, Sarah my name is Doctor – “

I didn’t hear his name.  I was just super scared.

“Don’t be worried” he said.

I just have to say something about this phrase. Every time someone says it I have to laugh. When someone tells you not to worry, what do you do? You worry even more. When a doctor can’t figure out what is wrong with you and tells you not to worry, you freakin worry.

“I can’t get her info back up” said Dr. Eliza.

They spent about five minutes trying to get my information up and it was killing me inside.

“I guess I have vanished” I laughed.  

What in the actual hell? I cursed myself for being such an idiot and always having to say something.

“We got it up. We need to just do another ultrasound” said the Dr. This time he did the ultrasound and I sat there watching both of their faces.

“You see the cvnsfjdfnnsfmsdfnjsdfndf” said the male doctor to Dr. Eliza. 

“Sorry, what did you say?” I asked.

“I am sorry. We are just using some medical terms. I said the word ‘ovary’” said the doctor.

“Is it my appendix?” I asked.

“We don’t think so. We need to go look at the pictures. Just wait in the waiting room and we will call you in if it is something serious.”

What in the what?

I sat down and started looking all around me. 

There was a cute boy around age two being fed by his Dad. 

There was a couple coming out of the Fetal Medicine area crying. 

There was a man who went running by me to Ultrasound yelling “do you know which room my wife is in?”

It was chaotic and I was doing my best not to have a panic attack.

I started reading my Oprah Magazine but couldn’t read a word. I started listening to a podcast but became too stressed out. I then texted my family and told them what was happening.

“Is anyone there with you?” texted my Dad.

“No but I am okay” I texted back. “If things become crazy, I will text a friend to come here” I replied.

I waited and waited and waited.

“Sarah?” asked a voice at the front counter at the ultrasound desk.

“Yes?” I asked. “Are you sure it is me?”

She confirmed it was me and I was ready to hear my fate.

“We need to book you in again” she said.

“So the doctors have said that I can go home? They found a mass near my ovary that wasn’t there before. They needed to figure out if there was something wrong. Does this mean there is nothing wrong?”

At that point, I realized that people were watching me. I think I may have sounded a little dramatic or frantic. The poor admin assistant didn’t know what to say.

“It says here that there is a mass. You will need an another ultrasound for the baby and they will look at the mass again at that time” she said.

“How is October 24th?” she said.

“Perfect” I said.

So now I get a 2-for-1 ultrasound (not really named that but I am going to call it that). On October 24th I am hoping to have clear pictures of a healthy baby and clear pictures of a mass that nobody needs to worry about.

“I can come to your appointment so that you have someone to go with” texted my brother in law.

I smiled thinking that he was being the absolute sweetest.

“As long as I can wear a shirt that says ‘I AM NOT THE FATHER.’”

My sister then sent a text.

“I can come to your appointment so that you have someone to go with. As long as I can wear a shirt that says ‘I AM NOT THE MOTHER.’”

Keeping a sense of humour through this gong show is so needed. 

Let’s hope next week’s blog is boring because it means nothing stressful happened. Have I just jinxed myself? 

Wishing everyone an amazing Thanksgiving weekend!

Can I Just Have a Glass of Wine? Make That a Bottle. I Am Way Too Stressed.

(One of us hates the long waits at the clinic.)

“Aunt Sarah let’s race our cars now. Right now” said my three-year-old nephew beside me.

Everything was happening so quickly.

My Dad was rushing to put things into a backpack, my sister L was packing up food so my parents could eat something, my Mom was heading out the door to go to the hospital.

“Aunt Sarah. We need to play” said my nephew having absolutely no idea the emergency that was happening around us.

I pretended to race my car but what I really wanted to do was to run into a room and cry.

Minutes before, my Mom had told us that she had passed out the night before but didn’t know why. She could see that her heart rate was getting too high and had finally decided it was time to go to the hospital.

That was on Sunday and thus began events that nobody could have expected.

This week was A LOT for everyone. Because of her heart defibrillator, the team at Toronto General, and my Mom’s strength, she was able to get out of the hospital by Thursday evening.

My parents had come down to Toronto for a Jays game and my Mom was planning on attending two appointments with me this week – my 20-week anatomy ultrasound on Monday, and my OB appointment on Wednesday.

What was so odd was that she was so close by – just across the street at Toronto General. She explained how sad she was at missing the appointments and I just stated over and over again that I didn’t care. I just needed her to be healthy.

Because my Mom couldn’t make the appointment, my sister J came with me. Throughout the day, J had been to Toronto General to see Mom, went to my appointment at Sinai, worked an eight-hour shift, and went back to Toronto General in the evening. I told her that she didn’t need to come to my appointment but she was so kind and was there by my side.

Because I was so stressed, I had no idea how the anatomy scan would go. To be honest, all of my thoughts were on my Mom and it wasn’t really registering that I was having my ultrasound.

Throughout the ultrasound, I tried to talk to both the nurse as well as J. The nurse was too busy and didn’t want to chat. J would talk to me for a bit but I could tell she was also tired and stressed about Mom.

I wasn’t able to see the monitor either so I was just laying down, sitting in a dark room, and trying my best not to be too stressed out.

After about ten minutes I knew I had to ask a question.

“Is he there?” I asked the nurse.

“Yes” she said.

“Does he have a heartbeat?”

“Yes” she said.

That was pretty much all of the small talk I could get out of her.

I could feel my anxiety increasing as I sat there.

“Is he moving around a lot?” 

“Yes” she said.

After that, I gave up.  We weren’t going to be friends and I would just use this time to breathe deeply.

“You are done” she said. “But we need to look at your cervix.”

My sister was sitting at my feet and upon hearing that, jumped out of her seat.

“I am moving” she said.

The nurse left and I took off my pants, hiding so my sister couldn’t see anything.

(A pic of the ultrasound of baby boy. He looks still here, right?)

“You know that you are going to have to get comfortable with me seeing things” said J. “I am going to be there at your labour so I’ll see a whole lot more of you. Be prepared.”

The nurse came back in and after about two minutes I was done. Overall, the anatomy ultrasound took about 1 hour and fifteen minutes.

“You will have to come back” said the nurse. “I couldn’t see much.”

(I took this picture from her screen. I guess Baby Boy did move around a lot.)

From there, I was asked to sit in the waiting room until about 20-30 minutes later, when I was given a new date and time to come back.

On Wednesday I had my ultrasound for the research study that I am in at Mount Sinai. 

“I’ll try and get what the nurse didn’t get in the anatomy ultrasound” said the physician.

This time I could see the monitor and watched as baby boy flipped around and kicked the entire time.

“I am trying but I just can’t get pictures of him. He is one of the most active babies I have seen.”

“What?” I asked. “I have no energy. Why does he have so much energy? Why can’t he be more like his Mama?” I laughed.

“When they are like this in the womb, they are like this when they come out of the womb” said the physician doing the study.

“What?” I asked.

(Baby Boy at the research ultrasound. This is the only time he was still.)

After my research ultrasound, I was off to meet with Dr. Snelgrove.

While in the waiting room, I watched as a man spoke on his cell phone.

“It’s a girl Mom. She is in the washroom and I’m not sure if I am allowed to tell you. Actually, here she comes. She can tell you herself.”

I can’t even begin to express how excited I was at watching this all unfold. 

“Congratulations on your girl” I said. Before long, we were chatting about a variety of things including how much we loved Mount Sinai Fertility Clinic and how much we loved Mount Sinai.

“Sarah?” asked the nurse.

I couldn’t believe how fast the two-hour wait went because of the kind couple I had met. I made a mental note to talk to everyone around me next time.

Dr. Snelgrove welcomed me, asked how I was doing and looked over my anatomy scan.

“Wow…thanks a lot guys” he laughed. “They were only able to measure the head” he said. “Your baby was moving around way too much.”

“He is a soccer player” I said.

After that, we discussed my health and how I am still not gaining any weight or keeping any food down. I asked if something was wrong with me because I was sleeping 12-16 hours a day. I also discussed other gross pregnancy symptoms that I won’t write about here. Every time I talk about it my Dad says “TMI.”

So through all of the events of the week, baby boy made it through this week with his mother being completely stressed out. It’s so hard going through such a stressful time knowing that you have to remain calm.

This week got a lot better because on Thursday night, Mom was released from the hospital.

I felt really bad because I wanted to be with my Mom 24/7 at the hospital, but my body wouldn’t let me. I would start getting sick and knew it was time to go home and to rest. It was really hard to find a balance.

Now that she is home, I am resting and have cancelled everything so I can just be in bed. This week took so much out of me emotionally and physically.

My Mom is everything and it was amazing watching her strength through all of this. The whole time I just kept thinking “you need to get healthy. You need to be with my son.”

So now if anyone ever asks me where I get my strength from, I’ll always be sure to say “I got it from my Mama.” 

If I can be half the Mom, my Mom has been to me OR if I can be half as strong as my Mom, I know I will have made it as the most incredible Mom. 

I love you Mama.

(Mom leaving the hospital.)