From the Blog

“Let Me Show You Something,” Said The Ultrasound Technician

This is the story of how we learned we were going to have twins.

We found out that I was pregnant in the usual way. Also, I GOT pregnant in the usual way. We’ve already had a few people casually ask if we used IVF. In the future, when we get this question, I am going to say, “Why, no! We used my husband’s penis!” I don’t get offended easily, but I *can’t wait* for strangers to ask me nosy questions.

We knew I was pregnant through the holiday season, but we kept our news primarily to ourselves. This is customary and agonizing. The first trimester is such a delicate time, and so many things can go wrong. I was surprised by the local maternity center when I called them, they didn’t want to see me for the first ten weeks. You know, because the pregnancy was so likely to fail, they want to make sure it’s “sticking” before they see you. I’m going to write a furious rant about this soon.

We spent the holiday season among family, but kept quiet. Thankfully, I never got noxiously sick like some women get. I did have food aversions and cravings, but I was never pukey. I just felt sort of “blah,” and I felt pudgy and bloated. Since we had yet to see a doctor, we were on our own as far as calculating our diet. And not that I’m dumb, but I would have liked a little guidance. I consulted Doctor Google, and of course, the advice there can be compared to monkeys throwing shit at each other.

On Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, I had some light spotting. Not a lot. But it was different. And it could have meant a number of different things. Again, I went to Doctor Google, and I had to shut my eyes against the panicked hysterics of women Googling the same thing. Some people were reassuring, and said that it could be normal. But some people screeched that spotting during pregnancy was The End Of The World, and you need to fly to the emergency room before a cosmic black hole opened between your legs and ended all life on the entire planet.

The day after Christmas, when we got back to Astoria, I phoned the nurse on call at the local maternity center. I called early in the morning, but we ended up playing phone tag all day, until I finally spoke to her in the later afternoon. I explained the situation and she said that since no one had seen me yet for this pregnancy, and there was no way to know what was going on, I should go to Urgent Care.

Well, shit. I could tell from Google that the most prudent thing to do would be to see a doctor. But it was a dull thud to hear it confirmed. Maybe this was not as normal as I had hoped. Dave and I ate dinner and walked over to Urgent Care. It’s not far from where we live. Since it was now getting to be late in the day, they transfered me over to the emergency room. And the ER was packed.

It was the day after Christmas, and a few of the hospital staff rolled their eyes and told us what a crazy day it had been. The bed they had open for us was given away a multitude of times for more urgent cases. We gingerly took a seat in the waiting room, kept our hands to ourselves, and tried not to breathe.

There was a woman crumpled into a ball in one seat, her face pinched and her eyes closed. I think she may have been sleeping, but otherwise, there was no telling what was wrong with her. There was a young family with a little boy who needed constant stimulation. They fed him junk food from the vending machine and he was remarkably well behaved for the amount of time we observed him.

There was a teenager in white shorts and a t shirt, which struck me as awfully light clothing for December. He had a cut above his eye, and handcuffs on his wrists. A beefy looking adult sat next to him, supervising.

In the time we sat there, in that dark waiting room, with a suffocatingly low ceiling, we watched a shuffling parade of characters and stories. Small town troubles. Illness and waiting. An ambulance or two.

The Food Network blared from a TV in the corner. Some gawd awful fucking show. Someone, somewhere, gave a greenlight to produce the noise pollution that came out of that TV. I wanted to find that person and make them wait with us in the goddamned emergency room in Astoria, Oregon. I wanted to shake that person and show them how they made an awful, sad place so much fucking worse. You asshole.

We were eventually called in by an ultrasound technician. In my head, I was tabulating all the things that could be wrong. Ectopic pregnancy, for one. That’s where your insides explode. Or maybe the pregnancy wasn’t “sticking,” just as the maternity center figured might happen. I put on a robe with the bare ass and we were lead to a dark room with a bunch of monitors.

The ultrasound technician was pleasant, calm and professional. By this time, it was getting to be later in the evening, and I wondered if they just have ultrasound technicians hanging out for such situations. He did an external ultrasound and I made a joke about not being sure if I was actually pregnant. To my untrained eye, looking at the monitors, it was hard to see anything definitive. So I asked, “So am I actually pregnant?”

He hesitated. He hesitated! He actually said it was premature from this scan to say one way or another. He was very professional in how he said it, but my heart skipped a beat. Dave sat in the dark next to me and I wished so badly that he could hear what I was thinking.

Next they did an internal ultrasound. I could explain how they did it, but you just go ahead and figure it out yourself. Here, almost immediately, we saw a dark little pool with a little bean swimming inside. It was undeniable. I breathed a sigh of relief. I could feel Dave relax next to me and he squeezed my hand. He laughed nervously. “It’s not twins, is it?” he said.

And the technician was evasive, and inquired, “Well, why would you ask?”

I explained that Dave wanted twins. To him, it made sense to get it all out of the way at once. Dave had joked about twins for a long time.

He said, “Well, let me show you something.” On the screen, the vantage moved from one dark pool to another. We didn’t know what we were looking at. Was that a spleen? My bladder? A kidney? The screen moved from one pool to another. It looked like two sacks with little beans in them.

“Is that two? Is that two in there?” I squeaked.
“Well you tell me,” the technician said.
In my brain, I thought, no you tell me, you fucker! Tell me if that’s twins in there!

He pulled down an info entry screen in the software and changed the gestations from One to Two. This, Dave told me later, was the moment it seemed real to him. As a software professional, seeing the text click from “1” to “2” meant it was real.

“Holy shit. We are going to have twins.” Now we were all smiles. Holy crap. He switched on the sound, and we heard the psht psht psht of the heartbeats. One, then the other. I’ve never heard anything like it. The sound, more than the sight, made it real for me. They are in there. Two of them. They have heartbeats. We are going to have twins. Holy shit.

The technician took a bunch of measurements and looked at some other stuff while he was in there. The babies were in the right place, not in a fallopian tube, or in a spleen. He gave us the gestational age and predicted due date. He congratulated us, I put my clothes back on, and he led us back to the emergency room waiting area.

The waiting area was even more packed than it was before. There were no seats left. We stood in a corner and smiled. Dave was literally bouncing, with a big grin on his face. If someone watched us standing there, they would have thought we were waiting for a room in the mental ward. We stood there beaming.

“We’re going to have to move back to Portland.”
“Two car seats. Two cribs. Double the diapers.”
“Two little monkeys.”

We held hands and alternately grinned and shook our heads as we processed everything. We giggled nervously and Dave grinned and bounced. We were our own little oasis of happiness in that dreary room.

We eventually got a bed in the ER. They took blood and did an exam. I got poked and prodded. We waited for the results of the ultrasound. The nurses and staff seemed to all know our news and they congratulated us. One woman even said it was refreshing to “see people who can take care of themselves having kids.” I wondered about the stories she must see in the ER.

In all, we were in there for over six hours. There was no definitive answer on the spotting. But they ruled out all the obvious things that might have caused it. We were relieved everything looked good. We were advised to call the maternity center and move up our appointment from ten weeks, since we now had confirmation of twins, and everything looked healthy so far.

Twins. It does run in the family on my mothers side. We had joked about it, but didn’t think it was actually going to happen. Why not get it all out of the way at once? Seems efficient, right? My vagina can handle it. Right?




  1. I would have been pissed at the ultrasound tech too. YOU’RE the professional. YOU tell me.

    Pretty awesome! Can’t wait to see what’s in there!

    • I don’t think that they can tell you…I don’t think that they are “qualified” to diagnose. So, the best they can do is show you what they see, without commenting on it. Liability issues, urg…! Any way, congratulations on your soon to be munchkins!

  2. I spotted with all four pregnancies, and it was a freak-out, total-body stress-out each time. (Two were miscarriages, two were not.) And those internal ultrasounds, my my my, I never knew whether to cry out in fear or make inappropriate jokes. :D I have found ultrasound technicians to be some of the most evasive folks in the medical field–I believe they must take 42 credit hours of How To Speak In Vague in order to get their degree.

    I too think twins are the efficient and happy way to go; what a blast!

    • Thanks, Lisa. It’s good to know the ultra sound technician wasn’t just messing with us for fun. He was trained to mess with us.

  3. I can’t wait!!! I have my eyes on the baby department:) I just want to know one thing…Are you going to find out what they are? (It will make things easier) I truely am hoping for one of each!!!

  4. Congrats (again) you two! Also, I couldn’t help but think of this:

  5. Excellent write-up! Congrats again!

    What’s funny is that twins do historically run in my grandmother’s family, yet none of her 8 children were twins, none of her 14 grandchildren are twins, and none of her (who the hell knows the current count, 8-12?) great-grandchildren are twins.

  6. I’ll never forget getting an internal ultrasound exam from a guy Jim used to work with at St. Vincents! The dude was poking & prodding while catching up on old times with my husband who is sitting right there. Awkward!!!! Double congrats to you both!!!!!! :D

  7. Absolutely there is nothing like hearing the heartbeat for the first time…I’m so excited for you!
    And yes, your body will be able to handle it…you’ll do great!

  8. When I got to the heartbeats I started bawling. I remember that moment. We had to wait a long time to hear our son’s heartbeat (probably because of his heart defect, but we didn’t know about that until he was 3 days old). Getting to hear the heartbeats so early seems like such a blessing to me! Uber congrats!

  9. I see if i keep reading your blog can I get college credit for pregnancy 101? Better buy the medical dictionary, it took me a while t figure out the internal ultrasound. And you have just begun! Maybe Dave should edit some of these posts and put them on his blog… Dave knows pregnancy.

  10. Hey Heather, I found your link to your blog still on “my favorites” and decided to see what was new with you…pregnant with Twins!! Never expected to get such big news!! Was just thinking about you and glad to see you are doing great. Congrats!

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