Yahoo with a Doppler!

Ever since 17 weeks pregnant I have been able to pick up what seemed like two heartbeat sounds via doppler at home. The first time it happened was so surprising and so distinct (and the rates were different) that I went to our first ultrasound halfway expecting to find out that I was having twins. It was only one little boy though, but he was so squished up against his anterior placenta that I still kept thinking it might be twins and they missed one somehow. I developed somewhat of an obsession with trying to figure it out and felt like I had a split personality—one part of me was completely convinced there had to be two babies and the other part of me was completely convinced that there could only be one and the two parts duked it out constantly, so I could be equally as certain about either possibility within the span of about five minutes. Luckily, the Pregnancy Resource Center in a nearby town was looking for volunteers to do training ultrasounds and so I had the opportunity to go there last week for a quick ultrasound and finally set my mind at ease by stopping the crazy-making flip-flopping my head was doing about the whole thing. I’d told my doula/friend that I felt “crazy” about thinking it could be twins, but that “I’m not just some random yahoo with a doppler!” Well, it turns out, I am just a random yahoo with a doppler as the second ultrasound also showed just one little boy baby (with one heart) who has been in there mystifying me!

So…for those other random yahoos with dopplers out there googling for answers, here were my reasons for thinking it could be twins:

  • Heartbeats were regularly different rates (127/135 and 147/156) AND on at least two occasions I picked up a distinctive double “clop-clop” sound in two separate places rather than the secondary sound being the “whooshy” cord sound googling told me I could be hearing (and that Logic Brain told me was most likely what I was hearing).
  • Two distinct locations that made me think it couldn’t be same baby from different angle—i.e. one heartbeat low on left side and the other “heartbeat” high on right side (I pictured two ying-yang style babies in there!)
  • Baby’s position via ultrasound so “crammed” into placenta like he was crowded by someone else.
  • Original (real) baby never changing position very dramatically (at least while I was paying attention) at all between about 15 weeks and 21 weeks. Head-down with back/heart on low left side (since then he has switched around several times).
  • The sensation of being “one-sided” pregnant as in I felt aware of the real baby on the right, but a sense of “blankness” on the right side (Logic Brain correctly identified for me that this was because my placenta is anterior and on the right and thus blocks a lot of baby movements. I also had an anterior placenta with my second baby though and I never once thought he was twins).
  • The clear and real sensation that when I was listening for both heartbeats that I was listening for the “second baby.” That is how I would feel in the moment—“time to find the other baby”—but then Logic Brain would kick in afterward and say things like, “I thought I heard a second heartbeat sound” (but in the moment, it would feel like I was listening to one baby and then the other baby).
  • The fact that Mark also heard it and thought the same thing AND that our midwife was able to pick up two sounds/two rates as well (at about 18 weeks) and she said that it was uncommon to hear from multiple angles like that while baby was still fairly small.
  • Having been pregnant quite a few times and never before having had any thoughts of twins or hearing any double heartbeats.
  • Twins being everywhere (including the main characters in the book club book I’m reading with the kids and seeing four sets of them at the LLL conference, etc. 😉 )

And my reasons for thinking it wasn’t twins:

  • Only one baby seen via first ultrasound (and, obsessively googling revealing that it is fairly rare for a mistake to be made and two babies to be overlooked via ultrasound).
  • No dreams about it being twins. (My mom teased me about this one, but I felt certain I would have had some dream intuition about it). Then, the night before I heard back from the PRC that I could have an ultrasound there, I did have THE DREAM and it WAS twins. Of course, Logic Brain correctly told me that if I’d spent hours before bed reading stories online about Star Wars and then dreamed I was fighting with light sabers, it would not, therefore, mean I was a Jedi.
  • The fact that most often the first heartbeat sound was of the “clop-clop” variety and the second of the “whoosh, whoosh” variety (but fast, meaning it was the cord and not the placenta, uterine arteries, or my own heartbeat).
  • I read online that many, many times when FHT are detected during any pregnancy, it is really the cord and not the heart, but for the purposes of determining fetal life, both count equally and thus cord tones are regularly accepted/recorded as FHT with no distinctions made between them.
  • No dramatic weight gain (I am up to about ten pounds gained now at 22 weeks) AND not measuring particularly big (around 24 weeks or so) AND not looking particularly “big” either. I was pretty sure there was not actually room for two babies in there!
  • Having an anterior placenta and knowing that it could impact sensations of fetal movement as well as ability to hear heartrate clearly. Also, finally my husband’s Logic Brain pointed out to me that babies with posterior placentas probably look equally as “squished” into them if they were viewed from the back as our baby did with his anterior placenta, only with posterior placentas they aren’t “in the way” and thus you don’t get the same impression of the baby’s being tucked into it like a pillow.
  • The sneaking sensation that perhaps the “distraction” of wondering if it was twins was keeping me from actually thinking about the real baby and everything he will need from me/what will need to change/how I will cope with just one new baby I wasn’t expecting to have!

Before we knew for sure, I took a video to try to show what I was hearing. Unfortunately, it isn’t as convincing as some of the non-video’ed times were (like when one was at the very top right and the other very low on the left!), but it is what I have to share as a “how to know whether you, too, are a random yahoo with a doppler” data point.

So, this experience, coupled with my gender mispredictions, means that basically my overall “intuitive” track record during pregnancy is pretty terrible! At the ultrasound they did let us listen to the heartbeat both ways—cord and back and coupled with the visual image, I could more clearly “see” what it was I had been hearing and how it was able to work (nothing really explains the rate differences though except normal variability in fetal heart rate and/or a none-too-spectacularly-sensitive-home-Doppler). Also, this was the first baby for which I’ve ever been able to see so clearly via ultrasound the exact location and insertion of the cord. It was very cool and I wish I had a picture of it to share!

Here are two of the pictures I did get:

And, one of me today at 22 weeks!

June 2014 072Now that I’ve passed 20 weeks, I do feel a lot of movement even with the anterior placenta, so the “one-sided pregnant” feeling is fading.


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