23 Weeks

Well, it’s been a while. Just about 4 months since my last blog post. And I’m still pregnant. 23 weeks today. I’ve been staying away from the blog, because writing about this always feels like tempting fate. But, I’m learning that I need to get past those superstitions and hangups.  Because they’re not based in reality. They’re based in the past. And I’m not living in the past anymore.

First Trimester

September, October & November were not easy months for us. I wasn’t far along enough to feel secure in our pregnancy, and the shadow of our last loss was hanging heavily over everything. I spent the first 14 weeks with “one foot in, one foot out.”  I was afraid to emotionally connect with our baby. Being pregnant was just hard, and I wished that I could fast forward to a safer time.  I had legit, all-day  morning sickness (reassuring!), but I also had bleeding/spotting that lasted a week or more at a time (not so reassuring). I tried to remember to live in the moment, and just be thankful that I was “pregnant today.” But, mostly, I just slogged through a haze of nausea and extreme anxiety, ate my weight in carbs, and called out of work a hell of a lot more than I wanted to.

Overall, second trimester has been vastly better than first trimester. In December, we had our nuchal translucency scan. Everything looked great. So, we decided to make the conscious effort to confidently embrace this baby and this pregnancy from that point forward. No more “if we have this baby.” No more “one foot in, one foot out.”  We realize that there is ALWAYS risk – in any trimester, and even after the baby is born.  But we made the decision to stop living our lives in fear, and felt that 13 weeks was as good a time as any to make this mental shift.

We also decided to find out the sex of our baby at 13 weeks.  We had PGS done on our embryos, so we we didn’t have to wait until the anatomy scan. After a few days of back and forth with our fertility clinic, we found out that we are having a little boy.* We are absolutely thrilled.

*funny story: The records department at our IVF clinic actually told us we were having a girl first, based off of an incorrect assumption from our PGS report. I had a hunch they were wrong, and emailed our doctor directly, who immediately confirmed that we were in fact having a BOY. Of course, we were thrilled either way.  

Easing into Second Trimester

So, despite our resolution to “confidently embrace” this pregnancy – I’ve got to be honest: it was still a process to change the fear-based-mindset. And, I still  do experience setbacks where I am overcome with fear and anxiety. I’m talking full-on, crying freak-outs where I am convinced that something is horribly, terribly wrong.

But, the farther that we get into second trimester, I am amazed at the increasing number of days where I am able to relax and enjoy this pregnancy. This is a feeling that I never thought I’d be able to experience, and I am grateful for it every day. I’m sure that the timing of our previous loss is a factor here. Because I’ve only experienced a first trimester loss, I believe it is easier for me to move forward at this point. I can only imagine how challenging second trimester can feel for women who have experienced second trimester losses or stillbirths.

Baby Kicks  AKA This Shit is Getting REAL

While my first trimester was tough, I have been pretty lucky in second trimester. All throughout my infertility journey, people would say “You deserve to have the easiest pregnancy and birth after all of this!.” And I would smile and nod, and silently think, “If only that was how this stuff worked.” For a while, Alex and I just had a lot of challenges thrown our way. At times, it felt like we couldn’t catch our breath.  So it’s difficult for me to accept that the universe may want to throw a few easy breaks my way.

One of the greatest, and most unexpected, gifts of this pregnancy has been feeling the baby move early on. I started feeling small movements at 16 weeks, 6 days. Since most of my friends didn’t feel their babies until almost 20 weeks or after, I wasn’t holding my breath waiting for early “fluttering.” But then it happened, out of the blue, the night before New Year’s Eve. Alex had a bad cold, so we had picked up some authentic northern Chinese food (dumplings, noodles, the works) and some bubble tea for me. After dinner, I was sitting on the couch watching TV, and I felt two distinct flicks. Like, someone tapping me from the inside. Alex, who had no idea that he wasn’t supposed to be able to feel the baby until much later, immediately put his hand on my abdomen, and it happened one more time. Alex swears he felt it. I guess it’s possible. Regardless, it was a very distinct and very different feeling. It did not feel like gas. It felt like a tiny flick. While part of me was skeptical, it was still pretty magical.  I now know that it was, in fact, baby.

Initially, I would feel the “maybe movements” – like little muscle twitches and flicks – about once or twice every two days. And only when I was sitting quietly, just after I ate. By 18 weeks, I was feeling movement every day, sometimes twice a day. By 19, he would move after most meals, and I started looking forward to those moments on a somewhat regular schedule.  By 20 weeks, there was no mistaking his movements for anything else – and I started feeling him when I was standing up and walking around.  Since then, I’ve started to feel him pretty much all day, regardless of what I am doing.

This kid is ACTIVE. There are 1-2 hour periods where he’s quiet. But, for the most part, he is regularly reminding me of his presence throughout the day. He usually starts kicking when I eat breakfast, then quiets down for an hour or two. He starts flipping around again at some point when I’m teaching my morning classes. Then again after lunch. Then again in the later afternoon.

He really goes to town after dinner, though. Usually, between 7-10 PM, he is kicking the shit out of me. Like, big thuds that sometimes startle me if I am starting to fall asleep. It is the coolest thing EVER. And I love every minute of it. It’s hard to worry when he’s kicking me. It’s like he’s saying “Hey, Mom. I’m right here! Chill out.” And that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.

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