Pregnancy ’09 – first trimester


Before I stepped into real time, to honor the holidays and share my thoughts on what they meant to me this year, I had left off in this story, this detailed account of my very personal experience, in July of 2009 when we found out I was pregnant.  Now, I shall continue with that.


The first week of knowing I was pregnant was really the 3rd week of pregnancy, because a pregnancy is calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period.  I started gathering literature from friends and via the Internet about what to expect, and it eventually became a weekly tradition for Craig and I to read about that week’s progress.

The 3rd week was full of sleeplessness and night sweats.  And I was in pre production on a commercial that would shoot in August in New York, and so would work from my apartment in Venice and sometimes steal time for afternoon naps.  I spotted that week, meaning there was a little blood on the toilet paper after I wiped, and I was concerned, but the next day’s scheduled blood test confirmed my levels were appropriately rising and I was fine!

Now into the 4th week I started bleeding; at first it was spotting, but then it turned into heavy bleeding and some clots.  And I was frightened and felt very helpless and sad.  I called the doctor’s office and spoke to a nurse who said the only thing to do was to take it easy; my first ultra sound appointment was scheduled for July 24th, and there would be nothing the doctor could see and therefore do until then.  Craig was leaving on a business trip that night, but the hysteria in my voice when I called him to tell him what was happening brought him home early from work to hug me a bit before he left.  I knew I was supposed to rest, but the idea of Craig getting on a plane and leaving me made me so anxious that I insisted it would be fine if I drove him to the airport.  So I did, and on the way back got a bunch of fried chicken at Kentucky Fried Chicken drive thru, and proceeded to go home and pig out on it.  It was salty and delicious and replaced the hugs that Craig couldn’t give me on this scary evening.  I remember very vividly that once his plane touched down that he had to drive into a lightening storm, and I couldn’t reach him for way longer than I had anticipated, which made things worse for me.  But, I survived through that night, wearing a pad to catch the blood.

The same day that the bleeding had started I’d had plans with my niece to go bike riding.  When my eldest sister called me and I was obviously crying, she asked what was wrong, and I told her I was miscarrying.  She didn’t even know I was pregnant at this time; only Craig, my friend Dee – who seemed to psychically know to call me the night of the positive pregnancy test, and the doctors did, but I poured out all of the information to her and she listened and calmly said to just do what the nurse had said; that bleeding could sometimes happen and that it didn’t necessary mean I was miscarrying.

And then through the course of Craig being gone on his business trip with me laid up in bed resting as much as possible that week while working from home, but of course anxious and needing to talk about how scared I was with someone, I called my friend Cheryl to learn of her pregnancy stories and scares.  She was my oldest friend; I’d known her since I was two-years young, and with 3 children of her own, I knew she’d be a comfort.  I told her the theory that Craig and I had developed:  That I was pregnant with twins, and that one of them was miscarrying.  I had no way of really knowing this; the Follistim stimulation had resulted in 2 or 3 eggs that cycle – so there was a possibility of multiples (term for more than one baby), and this story I’d concocted saved me from thinking I was losing the ‘whole’ pregnancy, and kept me as sane as any woman who wanted a baby this badly could be for the rest of that week.

By Friday morning Craig had returned, and he dropped me off at Dr. T’s office, where in fact, we saw 2 fetuses and heard 1 heartbeat.  I couldn’t believe it.  Being told that you’re pregnant because of a blood or urine test is one thing, but hearing the heartbeat is BEYOND amazing.  It was exactly as strong as it was supposed to be.  And as far as the fact that there were 2 fetus sacks and only 1 heartbeat, Dr. T proposed that either the other would develop, or that I was, as I’d theorized, in the process of losing the 2nd one.

Craig was the first phone call I made.  Then my sister Cynthia. Then Cheryl.  I made these calls as I walked a creative way to the bus stop – meaning a way I hadn’t walked before; I had a sort of skip in my step even though I ended up walking a really long couple of blocks only to realize I needed to go a different route to get to Pico near Westgate.  When I got on the bus, I opened my backpack that held all of the things I was carrying around with me, including a couple of magazines for my reading pleasure during the bus ride.  I had carefully placed my sonogram picture safely within the pages, and took it out and peaked at it, sort of looking around to see if anyone knew what I was doing.  I felt cautious but proud and as I write this now struggle to find a better word to capture just how happy I was:

There was a sense of accomplishment along with a deep sense of understanding my body so well, considering that I had exactly predicted that I had two and was perhaps losing one.  I wasn’t happy about the idea of losing one of them, not even close.  But as I knew my body so well, as I was so aligned with myself, I was ethereal, floating a margin above where happy people dwell.

That Saturday we went out for our regular date night to a great seafood place in Santa Monica, and I felt myself bleeding during the meal, so I had to rush to the bathroom and put in one of the pads I had taken from Dr. T.’s office’s bathroom.  I was still concerned, but eventually the bleeding stopped and during next week’s 6-week check up, it was confirmed that one fetus was growing strong, but that the other had disappeared.

I would learn that what had happened is called Vanishing Twin Syndrome.  It means that one of the fetuses in a twin pregnancy spontaneously aborts, usually during the first trimester; in scientific terms: the fetal tissue is absorbed by the other twin; the placenta; or the mother; thus giving the appearance that the twin “vanished.”

The medical description aside, I was losing the possibility of a baby at this time. Since I am writing this after having lost my actual very beautiful and very real son, the fetus from July ‘09 whose heartbeat was growing stronger and stronger, it is very hard for me to sympathize with what it felt like to be me at that time. As previously mentioned, when I lost Finley, it changed who I am forever, so much so that I don’t remember who I was then.  But I think it’s important to state that I felt lucky that I had one growing, and definitely recognize how sad and difficult it is for people, specifically women, to have the loss of the dream of their baby categorized as simply as “Vanishing Twin Syndrome”.  This vanishing twin could have eventually been Henry or Harry or Sally or Adele, and the science of it all seems to underwhelm the emotional chord that exists, yes, even that early, between a parent and a growing fetus.

The next two weeks I was in pre production on what would be my most interesting production, to date.  I was working on a Public Service Announcement for an organization that our work would launch, with an Academy Award Winning Director and an Academy Award Nominated Actress.  The logistics of what we were filming and where we were filming were quite impressive, and I was happy to work hard from home, often peaking at the incredible and latest sonogram of our baby-to-be.

The next appointment would be at 8-weeks of pregnancy, just before I was to leave for my project that would take me to NYC for about 4-weeks.  I remember I was balancing way too many things that morning, such was my personality:

I took Craig to pick up a few of his friends at our friend Jerry’s house and then dropped them off at the airport; they were going to Colorado for our friends’ wedding.

I met with an attorney at a Starbucks to discuss a lawsuit I was filing against my former employer, who had breached my contract.

Then the plan was to go get the perfect travel sweat outfit, followed by an appointment with Dr. T, and then I would have to race to get my hair cut all the way in Silver Lake.

I was to travel to NY in a couple of days, and was in heavy pre production, so it was no surprise that I got a call while in the Doctor’s office that I needed to add a conference call to the morning’s activities.

All of these metaphorical balls balanced in the air, and still the moments after Dr. T confirmed the fetus was growing healthy, when Rishona told me the expected due date, stands still in time for me.

Rishona was one of my nurses, and she had a very soft voice; she tended to be a low-talker, meaning that I often had to strain to hear what she was saying.  Per my request she was putting together information onto a prescription, in the event that I needed to see a doctor when I was in NYC.  It was an unlikely need but a smart precaution to take, being that I would be 3,000 miles away from home.  On the form she was writing my birth-date, the doctor’s office’s information, and then the baby’s due date.  “Has anyone told you the due date yet?” she asked.  I shook my head.  “It’s March 18th,” she said.  “What?!” I asked, incredulous as well as uncertain as to whether I heard her correctly, since she did speak in a whisper.  “March 18th,” she repeated.

I started rambling, “That was one of my best friend’s birthdays and she died years ago and did you say March 18th?”  She nodded her head, and handed me the prescription, which clearly read the date that my dear friend Nicole would have been 40-years old, had she lived more than 3-days after her 20th birthday, so many years ago.

Everything changed for me then.  I called Craig to let him know, but he was on the plane to Colorado, so I couldn’t get a hold of him.  I had a million things on my mind, with a million things on my to do list over the next coming days, and yet the only thing that mattered to me was the enormous peace I had in knowing that my baby was to be born on Nicole’s birth-date.  I had been so nervous after experiencing the loss of the ‘invisible twin’ as to whether I would have any more problems.  But with this sign, with this obvious message and gift from my spiritual universe, I knew now that this baby was meant to be.  And I went on my way with this knowledge that seemed to propel me as if I was walking on air.

New York was amazing.  Being pregnant in New York, despite all of the madness and the August filth and heat, I felt unshakeable and unbreakable.  By this time, I had told my other sister, a couple of close friends, and a bunch of virtual strangers with whom I was working, as being in the midst of a huge and exciting production often accelerates a friendship.

We filmed at Grand Central.  There were over 100 extras and I was managing 3 shoots at once.  I went straight into post-production.  I could swear I was Super Woman.  I craved soups and bagels with cream cheese and lox, but stayed away from the lox, for obvious reasons.  First came 9 weeks, then I turned 10 weeks pregnant, while renting this amazing apartment in Chelsea and developing a routine of dry cleaning and take-out like a true New Yorker.  One day I walked all the way to the MOMA, and then from there got lost on my way through Central Park to get these cookies my sister, who at one point lived in NY, loves.  I visited with my dad’s sister and her family out in Long Island, and even embraced getting caught in the summer rain while walking to the train station.

Other than the cravings, on occasion the morning sickness was so overwhelming I’d have to grab the wall, the couch, a chair, whatever was near me, to stabilize myself while I regained my balance.  Also, I had become so accustomed to the regular doctor visits, something that is only for woman in assisted reproduction since most women don’t even know they are pregnant until sometimes 1 or 2 missed periods, that after I went to the bathroom and wiped myself, I would look at the toiler paper to make sure there was no blood.  I think I was less fearing a miscarriage, as after all, my baby would share the birth-date of my dear and dead friend Nicole’s thereby being a signal that the baby was going to be fine, than sometimes wondering if my period would come back.

Other times my imagination would make me wonder if the baby was even still inside me.

Craig would read me the weekly development of the fetus from our book over the phone to me from our apartment in Venice.  I missed him tremendously, and when we spoke felt calm and secure.

11 weeks along, and still in New York, I hadn’t told my parents I was pregnant.  For many that’s normal, as the first trimester is of course a highly vulnerable time, with 80% of miscarriages happening during this time. But that’s not why I hadn’t told them.  My parents, who I love dearly and respect a lot, weren’t normal parents ~ that’s why I hadn’t told them.  Was it their age difference?  Their cultural differences?  The fact that my mother didn’t have a father growing up?  Was it because they didn’t accept my relationship of 10-years with Craig because they liked to blame him for my eventual drug addiction – even though I started abusing drugs when I was only 15-years old living under their roof, long before I met him (and even though I’d been sober for years at this point)?

My mother had actually made a point of telling me I didn’t know how hard it was to be a parent.  Earlier that year, she had coerced me into a lunch with my sister and made efforts to sabotage my desire for motherhood.  She wasn’t clear at all why she didn’t want me to have a child.  She just ranted stuff at me.  She even made a point of having my Dad come over to my apartment and go on a walk with me, while he uttered the same thing.  Was it because I wasn’t married to Craig, that we didn’t have the legal paperwork that showed how committed we were to one another?

I didn’t know, and I really didn’t care if they thought I shouldn’t have a child, as I knew I was going to be a great mother.

Almost 12-weeks pregnant, I flew back to Los Angeles, cognizant of where the seatbelt rested on my pregnant belly in flight, and the fact that walking around the airplane was recommended to keep my blood flowing.  I hadn’t gained too much weight, but I was starting to celebrate my existing belly, which had absolutely nothing to do with the pregnancy; I didn’t care that the belly I wasn’t trying to hide wasn’t the result of being pregnant, as I was so happy with myself and my body over-all for being the vessel for my little growing baby.

Back in Los Angeles, since I’d missed Craig’s 40th birthday, I threw him a small surprise gathering that included Japanese noodles and Karaoke.

I saw my OBGYN, as now I was far enough along in the pregnancy to transfer over to him, and of course was thrilled to be entering my second trimester, when the percentage of medical issues or miscarriage decrease significantly.  Or so I thought.