We have a fetus!

It’s a cute little blob, right?

We have officially entered the fetal period. Yay for developmental milestones!  Last week we had our last ultrasound with the RE, and saw our baby dancing around for the first time (my husband and I spent a while trying to dance like our baby — he claims that our baby appears to have inherited my dancing ability, which I do not think is a compliment!).  Yesterday we were at our local OB for a quick check-in and we heard the heartbeat on a Doppler for the first time at 10w1d.  It’s nice to know that now we can go for a quick Doppler check up whenever we’re freaked out (OK, whenever I’m freaked out, since I’m about ten times more likely to be freaked out about the baby dying at any given moment than my husband).

Rationally, I know that entering the fetal period is a big deal and a really good thing. There’s this study that says that for low-risk women, hearing a heartbeat at nine weeks means a 0.5% chance of loss for the rest of the pregnancy (I’m not low-risk, but it’s still reassuring that our odds of miscarriage due to chromosomal abnormalities are low at this point).  I also like to look at this page in early pregnancy, which combines data from two studies to interpolate a sort of day-by-day loss risk for women in their first pregnancy (again, not me), which levels out to a constant, low baseline around weeks 9-10.  All of these numbers seem to be reflecting the reality that successfully making the transition from the embryonic to the fetal stage is a major developmental milestone that sharply decreases your risk of miscarriage due to chromosomal abnormalities.  So, yay!

That doesn’t mean I haven’t found things to worry about, of course. 🙂 At our appointment with the RE (8w6d), our baby’s heart rate measured 185bpm.  When I asked the RE if that was good, she said, a bit distractedly, “We like to see it under 190.”  This, of course, freaked me out because I’d never heard that a heart rate could be too high before, so naturally instead of thinking to ask the expert in the moment my anxiety built until I went on a great Google spree that evening.  Turns out there are generally two reasons why you might be concerned if your baby’s heart rate is too high: (1) it could indicate that the baby is experiencing distress of some sort (usually later in pregnancy), and (2) abnormally high fetal heart rates in the first trimester are correlated (though obviously not perfectly) with chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome.  I found a bunch of charts showing the typical fetal heart rate ranges and how they change over time (the fetal heart rate generally declines from about week 8-9 until the end of the trimester), but they all started at 10 weeks (or a crown-rump length longer than our 8w6d measurement) so I had to extrapolate backwards from some pretty noisy data.  It did indeed look as though 185 was on the high side of normal — somewhere close to the 95th percentile (using my extrapolated estimate).  So I spent a week freaked out about chromosomal abnormalities, despite the fact that I was using fetal heart rate charts to evaluate the heart rate of an embryo.

Yesterday at 10w1d the doctor measured the heart rate at around 170 — when I went to put that measurement on the chart (no extrapolating this time!), it was right around the 50th percentile.  Phew!  (Yes, I realize I’m obsessing unnecessarily.)  This doesn’t mean that I’m totally over my fear of chromosomal abnormalities, but I sent off my NIPT kit yesterday and should get the results back sometime around the date of our nuchal translucency screening a week from Thursday, so hopefully I’ll get some reassuring news in the next two weeks.  It also helps that my mom mentioned when she dropped off the kit that they haven’t yet had any patients from her office come back with a positive NIPT result yet.  Of course, I can’t help but think that it’s only a matter of time so maybe I’ll be the first!  (<– That is some useless, illogical thinking right there.)

Whatever the results, we’ll also know the sex of our baby when the NIPT results come back.  I’ve read enough about pregnancy after loss to know that many loss moms have complicated feelings about finding out the sex of a new baby after a loss — some are really, really hoping for the opposite sex, so that they can get a clean start and feel less like they’re “replacing” the baby that died, while others are really, really hoping for the same sex, so that they can fulfill the dreams of mothering a little boy or girl that they had with their previous baby.  Of course, my husband and I just want a healthy baby, and we will be thrilled with whatever the coin toss turns out to be.  But if I’m being honest (and we’ve talked about it, so I know my husband feels the same way)… we both wanted a girl, and were so excited when we found out our first baby was a girl.  Maybe it’s because I was the only daughter of a single mom, but I really want that special mother-daughter bond, and I also seem to find girls easier to relate to than boys in general.  I’m sure that would change if I had a son, and I know I’d love him to bits with all of my being.  As I told my husband, there are some pretty great guys in the world, after all, and if our son is anything like my husband, I’m sure he’ll be one of them. 🙂 I do feel bad even admitting that I have a preference, but I have to be honest — having that dream of a daughter to raise snatched away so abruptly in our first pregnancy was really hard, and it’s making me nervous about finding out the sex this time.  Mostly because I’m afraid of my own reaction.

To end on a (somewhat) lighter note, one curiosity I had going into this pregnancy was whether I’d start “showing” at the same time or earlier than in my first pregnancy.  There’s lots of information out there about when you start showing in a first pregnancy compared to a second, and everyone says it’s several weeks to a month earlier in your second pregnancy… but what if your first pregnancy was only half-baked?  I’d just about made it to the halfway point when our daughter died, so my uterus only got stretched out partway.  It’s hard to say for sure, since this pregnancy has been different than the last (I’ve been on progesterone, for one thing, which increases bloat), but I do think I’m starting to show sooner than I did last time.  At some point this week, I decided that I’m about two weeks ahead of how big I was in my first pregnancy, based on how I look in the bathroom mirror before I take a shower and how my clothes are fitting.  I’ve hardly gained any weight this time around — 1-2 pounds at most, compared to probably 3 or 4 by this point in my first pregnancy — but still I can definitively see my belly starting to poke out as things get crowded in there (the internet tells me that my baby is the size of a kumquat this week, and my uterus is the size of a grapefruit — why is it that everything about pregnancy must be compared to edibles?!).

So, the short version is that things are going really well so far, and we’re very excited to have made it to the fetal stage.  We’re really just waiting for the flurry of activity at 12 weeks, when we’ll find out our chances of chromosomal abnormalities, and in the meantime trying to enjoy our little dancing bean!


19 thoughts on “We have a fetus!

  1. Wifey

    Whoop whoop for reaching another major milestone! I can’t wait to hear that your test results show that baby has no abnormalities. I can totally relate to the gender feelings. I hope I get to share what sex of our babies are soon and my feelings on that subject.

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Aw, thank you! Milestones are great. 🙂 I’m also looking forward to finding out the sex of your babies and all sorts of other things about them! Is your first ultrasound this week? I’m so excited for you, and hoping that everything looks great!

    1. lyra211 Post author

      That’s really helpful to hear — thanks so much for letting me know! I know it’s absurd to obsess about it at this stage, but then, this whole process has been absurd in one way or another. It’s really great to hear from moms who’ve been there and had things turn out OK. 🙂

  2. mrswhitworth

    Hi! I stumbled upon your blog when reading MPB. I want to say that I’m sorry for the loss of your daughter. Congratulations on this pregnancy and all of the good news so far! I lost my son last August due to preterm labor that led to a partial placental abruption and am now 13weeks pregnant with his sibling. (I’ve also had a few early miscarriages around 6weeks). I wanted to thank you for being so honest about the gender issue. I have found myself fixated on the gender of this baby for all of the reasons you went into. As my therapist (who had a 2nd trimester loss) told me (and it made me feel good to hear) that this is more of an “issue” when you are pregnant and when you hold your baby in your arms all of those thoughts will go away and you cannot imagine having any other baby than the one you are looking at. I’m so happy that things are going well for you and I hope that they continue to! Congrats momma!

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Wow, thanks so much for introducing yourself and sharing your story. I’m so sorry for the loss of your son and your miscarriages, and congratulations on your new pregnancy (and getting past the first trimester, yay!). It’s really helpful to hear that you’re thinking a lot about the sex of your new baby as well — I do feel guilty, because I’m overwhelmingly just thankful that I’m pregnant again and it’s been a healthy pregnancy so far, and I know that in the end it won’t matter either way… but still it keeps going through my mind. How amazing that you were able to find a therapist who had also experienced a 2nd trimester loss and “gets” all these issues instinctively — that’s amazing! I’m wishing you the very best with your new pregnancy — if you think of it, stop in and let me know how it’s going! 🙂 (Looks like your blog is all school stuff… hi from a fellow educator!)

      1. mrswhitworth

        Thank you for your kind words! And I agree I ultimately want a healthy pregnancy and baby regardless of the sex. I am a high school teacher and used the WordPress when we traveled with students. I started a blog when I was pregnant and have turned it into a place that helps me heal. I need to somehow transfer it over to a wordpress because i follow so many of you guys and have enjoyed getting to hear your stories.

        Mine is http://thewhitworthsnc.tumblr.com/

  3. My Perfect Breakdown

    I am delighted for you! Hitting another milestone and passing with flying colours is fantastic news! Just keep taking it one day at a time, and hopefully in another 30 weeks (or so) you’ll be holding your little one as they wiggle in your arms. 🙂

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Aw, thanks so much. 🙂 30 weeks! I hadn’t thought about it that way before — so far I’d only thought about “February.” Somehow 30 weeks doesn’t seem so crazy — it means I’m more than 1/4 of the way there, amazingly! Hopefully I’m 1/4 of the way to holding a little one wiggling in my arms… it makes me feel a little weepy just to imagine it!

  4. theskyandback

    I’m so glad none of your heartbeat fears panned out! And yay for fetuses! It’s great to hear that everything is going so well. You’re doing great. Hang in there!

    1. lyra211 Post author

      So far, so good, although I’m not *totally* done being freaked out about chromosomal abnormalities yet. 🙂 Thanks so much for your positive, happy words — it means a lot!

  5. newchancesnewhope

    Congratulations on entering the fetal period – a milestone indeed! I’m going through all the same anxieties as you analysing heart rates and other comments – it’s never ending!

    I have everything crossed for you with the upcoming tests and results. Until then enjoy the thoughts of your dancing bean! 🙂 xx

  6. hopingforatakehome

    Yay, fetus! And yes you always hear about how you show earlier with subsequent pregnancies, and I’ve wondered how that applies to women who have not gone to term. Stretching and uterus growth happens pretty early in the first trimester so it makes sense that things have already been stretched out even with previous pregnancy loss. It’s probably not obvious to anyone but me, but I feel like I have a little something showing now that doesn’t seem like just bloat! So happy to hear about the little one’s heartbeat being right in the middle of the range. I haven’t written about this, but it’s something I have been worried about with mine as well. At the 8 1/2 week ultrasound ours was on the high end too (185-190). I know there are ranges and someone needs to be at the lower or higher end of these ranges, but it’s much more comforting to be right in the middle! I’m right there with you on the obsessing 😉

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Yes! I keep wondering if anyone else has noticed — I’m only 10.5 weeks today but I caught my reflection in windows a couple of times and was like, “Yikes, this is getting obvious!” Then when I got home my husband said with no prompting, “Wow, you look super-pregnant!” Which is a bit of an exaggeration (I definitely don’t look as pregnant as I did at 18 weeks last time), but still, it was reassuring that I wasn’t the only person who was surprised by how big I am at this stage. 🙂 I think partly it’s the shirt I’m wearing today (which is fitted), partly my build (I’m fairly slim so it’s noticeable when my tummy sticks out), and partly it’s bloat from the progesterone (although I’m only taking it every other day at this point), but whatever it is, it’s real. I’m also no longer comfortable sleeping on my stomach and it wakes me up whenever I roll over. And I was definitely not this big in the first trimester last time around. So yeah, I really think there’s something to this stretched out uterus business…

      It’s actually very reassuring to hear you say that your baby’s heartbeat was on the high end at 8.5 weeks too. We can’t both be the 1/300 chromosomal abnormality, after all. 🙂 (Well, yes, I know we *can*, but the odds are astronomically low.) Much more likely that we’re both just on the high end of normal!


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