Twenty seven weeks. We are just one week away from the third trimester. It is incredible to me that this pregnancy is this far along! Pregnancy feels like such well-traveled road. And yet, here I am, so familiar with being pregnant but facing (hopefully) 13 more weeks of uncharted territory for me. At the same time, this pregnancy feels like it has gone on forever.
My first positive pregnancy test was a little over 2 years and 4 months ago.
Even if you don’t count our previous pregnancies and losses, we began the IVF process in February and began shots for the stimulation cycle in April. We have been planning for this third baby for at least 10 months already. So while it feels strange to be so close to the third trimester, a trimester of pregnancy I have never experienced, my due date still feels so far away. It feels like we have been on this journey for so incredibly long, and we wish we were closer to the end of this storm than we are.
The familiar road of pregnancy has only ended in devastation for us. Each step of the way this pregnancy, it still feels hard to trust that the end will be happy.
One thing that I have been thinking about in the past week is the struggle to trust my gut after pregnancy loss. As I get to the third trimester, I expect my doctors to instruct me to pay extra attention to this baby’s movements and to notice if there is a decrease or a significant change. The reality is that I have been doing this since I first began feeling movement over 10 weeks ago. I have been in the pregnancy loss world long enough to know the importance of this and the ways in which less movement can be a sign of distress. In the stillbirth awareness community there is a lot of importance placed on pregnant women trusting their gut and communicating with their doctors and midwives if something feels wrong or different.
The problem with this is that after two losses, I don’t know whether I can trust my gut anymore. My gut tells me that this baby is so incredibly fragile and that it can all end horribly at any time.
Each time I question whether I have felt movement recently causes me to imagine the worst until I feel a few consistent strong movements. Sometimes the tiny movements are not enough. It is hard to know whether the gut feeling of fear is something that I should pay attention to or is an extra level of paranoia that I wouldn’t have if we had never lost babies. There is no great answer for this, but the best thing is to pay attention so that I can try to realistically assess any changes and call when I need, even if it is just for reassurance.
It is nice to report that we have no major news this week. No news is good news.
We have been intentional in recent weeks about engaging in activities that we want to allow us to feel connected to this baby. My goal in pregnancy after loss is to find a balance in allowing myself to experience the joy and hope I have for this baby while giving myself space for the anxiety and fear that will inevitably exist. Neither of these exists alone.
If we weren’t hopeful and connected to this baby, we wouldn’t be so afraid of experiencing another loss.
In the past few weeks, we have read books to the baby. Eric has played music for the baby. We have spent time sitting on the couch and lying in bed, waiting for Eric to feel the strong kicks that I get to feel throughout each day. We bought stuffed animals to represent each of our babies in the future nursery. I ordered fabric for the quilt I want to make for this baby. I will also use the small amount of fabric I purchased in our last pregnancy. I am excited and scared to get started on making this quilt. I have been thinking about what I want it to look like for nearly two and a half years. I want to make sure it is done before this baby arrives, but I am also afraid of starting it and ending up with no baby and a half finished quilt.
For me, managing pregnancy after recurrent loss is about distinguishing between when we should let ourselves remain distant and protective, the times when we need to express our fears, and the moments when we should push ourselves past our fears in order to let ourselves celebrate this baby in the way that we deserve. I am sure there is no way to find a perfect balance of these three modes of being, but we will keep doing our best.
At 27 weeks, we are connected to this baby. We love this baby.
We are very excited for when they hopefully join us safely in February or March. I stop myself every time I think, “I can’t wait to officially meet this little one.” I CAN wait. We have waited. I can wait until they are good and healthy. I just wish there were a guarantee so that this journey could be less anxiety filled and more enjoyable every step of the way.