I know I already mentioned the end of the first trimester in a previous post, but it occurred to me yesterday that I am now definitely more than 1/3 of the way through this pregnancy. Today I am 14w1d, and I know that my OBGYN won’t let me get to 42 weeks. Hence, >1/3 of the way there, even if I wind up being overdue!
I haven’t been updating much lately — part of that is travel (my last two weeks included a week at a conference six time zones away, followed by a week of vacation with my husband, including a few days in a cabin in New Hampshire with no internet, which was glorious), and part of that is just not feeling like I have a lot to say. But for those of you who have kindly expressed hope that everything is well: fear not! Everything is going fine. Our little guy is healthy, and has a strong heartbeat of around 160 bpm, as of Wednesday (13w6d). We spent part of our vacation visiting my mom, who is a women’s health nurse practitioner, and she brought home a Doppler so that we could listen to the heartbeat as often as we wanted while I was visiting. Not only did we hear a steady heartbeat every time we listened (and my mom always found the heartbeat quickly, unlike one of the docs at our local OB practice who nearly gave me a heart attack last week!), but we could also hear him moving around — little “zip!”s in between the whooshing of the heartbeats. Very reassuring.
Oh, there’s plenty I could say, mostly about how this pregnancy is different from my first pregnancy. I sort of hate making these comparisons, but they’re always in my head. I think the major difference can be summed up in the following statement, which I expressed to my cousin when I was home this week:
In my first pregnancy, once the first trimester was over I didn’t really believe the baby wouldn’t be born alive. In this pregnancy, I don’t really believe the baby will be born alive.
Maybe things will be different when I start to feel him moving consistently, or when I start to experience things that I never experienced in my first pregnancy, but so far everything feels unreal, and I feel detached. I feel terribly guilty about it — on one level I’m extremely grateful to be pregnant again, but on another level, most of the time I don’t believe that I’m actually pregnant, or that this pregnancy will actually result in a living baby, so I just can’t get excited about it. I also feel like I’m cheating my son out of all the happy, magical emotions that I fed to my daughter during my pregnancy with her. With my daughter, every time I saw something beautiful or good, I’d sort of mentally telegraph it to her, and think about sharing these experiences with her after she was born. After she died, that mental reflex became incredibly painful — seeing a beautiful sunset or having a touching interaction was all the more painful, because when I reflexively thought about sharing it with her, I was reminded that she was dead. Tonight I was walking with my dog through the fields near our house, in a glorious late-summer evening after a rain storm, with a huge arc of rainbow overhead — it was gorgeous, and I wanted so badly to feel it and to share it. I tried to feel the way I felt with our daughter, and send that feeling to my son… but I just couldn’t. And that just made me so sad.
Maybe it’s also that we’re creeping up on the point of our first loss. I know that September is going to be an emotional land mine for me. September 11 is the anniversary of the prenatal appointment at which we found out our daughter had no heartbeat. I delivered her the next day, on September 12. Our son will reach the gestational age at which we found out she had died on September 17, and the gestational age at which she was born on the 18th. One thing that will help me get through the next month is that my maternal-fetal medicine specialist scheduled an early anatomy scan on September 10, when I’ll hit 17w in this pregnancy. She wasn’t intentional about the date, but hopefully (assuming all goes well, which of course I can no longer assume) the timing of the anatomy scan means that we’ll be getting some reassurance before the deluge of significant dates hits.
I also have a really cool distraction from the September 17-18 significant dates — I was awarded a prize for my science research, given by my PhD-granting department to one of its graduates under the age of 35, and it turns out that my visit back to my alma mater to give a talk and go through the prize ceremony will be September 17-18. It’s a very happy occasion, and hopefully I’ll be too busy and happy to brood too much on the significance of the dates.
I want to end on some positive notes, because I don’t want you to think that this pregnancy is all doom and gloom. It’s been very hard for me to go through pregnancy after the loss of our daughter, but there are bright points too, and I want to make sure to share some of them:
- When I was home visiting my mom, she bought us our first item of baby clothing. It’s a very cute onesie, mostly light blue and yellow with monkeys. We never bought anything new for our daughter (we had started a stash of hand-me-downs from friends and relatives, which we are still planning to use for our son), so this is something new for me in this pregnancy. I wasn’t at a place yet where I felt like I could buy it for us, but she wanted to do it, and I let her, and it really did make me happy.
- I’ve decided to start taking bump pictures, since one of my regrets from the first pregnancy was that I didn’t have any pictures of my growing bump. I’m looking forward to seeing how my belly grows over the next few months.
- This is gallows humor, but I found it hilarious (sorry if you don’t!). My cousin (age 48) just went through an ovarian cancer scare — she’s fine, and doesn’t need further treatment, but she wound up having both ovaries and her uterus removed. We visited her in the hospital this week, and she was doing great. She was asking how my pregnancy was going, and I mentioned the fatigue and constant naps, and then we were talking about how apparently she’s now going to go through a sort of accelerated menopause, and my mom said she’ll probably be experiencing a lot of fatigue as well. So we started joking about how we’ll be doing synchronized napping for the next few months. 🙂 Naps are the best!
- Speaking of naps, when I woke up from a nap yesterday and was lying there quietly, I felt what I think might be the first flutters of movement from my baby. It’s not crazy to feel it this early, especially since I remember the sensation of movement from my daughter — this was the popcorn-popping kind. It’s too early for me to be sure, but it’s something to look forward to over the next few weeks!
And with that, I think I’ll sign off. I never forget through this pregnancy how fortunate I am to be here, even when it’s hard and I feel sad. I’m trying very hard not to let my fears about the future (at the moment: abnormal anatomy scan, another abruption, stillbirth, etc.) cloud my appreciation for every moment that I’m pregnant with our little boy. It’s a strange state of multiplicity, this simultaneous grief, fear, wonder, and hope — but I guess it just reflects the double-sided coin of life and death that is so salient in any pregnancy experience.