I’ve been ruminating on this question lately, now that I’m 15 weeks and rapidly approaching the 18-week mark at which our daughter died last year.
At our prenatal appointment this week our doctor (whom I generally love!) said something she’s said before: “Oh, it’ll be great once we get you past 18 weeks!” I appreciate the sentiment, but honestly it feels like a lot of pressure — as though I should suddenly be OK once we get past the point at which our daughter died. I know she was just trying to be encouraging, but I couldn’t help but hear some of that pressure in her comment.
18 weeks is not magical. Getting past that point doesn’t guarantee me a healthy pregnancy with a complication-free full-term birth. My pregnancy will still be high risk. I will still be at risk of placenta-related complications, even the same complication (placental abruption) that I experienced in my first pregnancy, which is actually more common in the third trimester than the second. I also think that I will be particularly nervous for at least a month or two after I hit the 18-week mark because of how I experienced the sensation of movement in my first pregnancy: I had just started to feel my daughter move, then didn’t feel anything for a few days, and chalked it up to the inconsistency of those first flutters in the second trimester. I’m told that it’s a totally normal experience — it just so happened that in my case, it happened to actually coincide with the death of my daughter. As a result, I suspect that the weeks in this pregnancy when the sensation of motion is weak and inconsistent will be particularly nerve-wracking for me.
But on the other hand, I find myself really looking forward to passing 18 weeks. I’m excited about being more pregnant than I’ve ever been before. I also feel like it will help me bond with my son a little more, since I’ll have started to know him longer, and with more detail in his movements and activity levels, than I did with his sister (there’s also some guilt associated with that idea as well, but whatever — I will only ever have had one first baby, even though she died before we got to meet her). I’m looking forward to getting to know our son through feel rather than just through ultrasound. And I’ve been putting off some planning tasks until we get past that point — I haven’t yet signed us up for prenatal classes, or started on the baby to-do list that has been sitting idle since last September. We’ve got things to do! Making wills and deciding on guardians and making decisions about car seats and cribs and and and… I haven’t been able to make myself do any of it yet. I’ve been thinking about it more often recently, with a certain amount of excitement, and I think that once we get past 18 weeks I might finally be emotionally ready to face it all.
So for me, at least, getting past the point of our previous loss both does and doesn’t matter. I know it’s not going to be a magical moment at which everything is suddenly better and I get my first-pregnancy optimism back (ha). But at the same time, it will be a very personal milestone, and I think it will mean something important in my relationship with my son.
Has anyone else made it past a previous pregnancy milestone? How did it feel to you?