This was a big week that has contained a mix of feelings for me. I started out feeling great about finally being in the third trimester. I was enjoying this new milestone. I felt like we were finally getting close to making it through this pregnancy and this baby joining us. We started registering, had another ultrasound and our first non-stress test, and the baby had their first visit to Dad’s work, when I got the chance to be a guest speaker in the psychology classes that he teaches.
At the same time, I have been having all the normal annoying pregnancy discomforts – heart burn, piriformis muscle spasms that wake me up every couple of hours at least, needing to use the bathroom all the time, and occasional restless leg syndrome. I haven’t been writing about these discomforts on the blog, but that does not mean they have not been happening. This week we found out that my iron is low, and I discovered the intense level of discomfort that will occur if I overeat because my digestive system is starting to run out of room. All the fun things!
Let me pre-emptively say that I know that these discomforts will increase as this pregnancy continues. I am fully aware of this. Even mentioning some of these aches and pains on the blog feels like something I shouldn’t be doing. It feels like complaining, and the idea of complaining about any aspect of this pregnancy feels wrong. There is a part of me that says I should just be grateful to be where I am. I am grateful to be pregnant. I am grateful this baby seems healthy.
It feels hard to justify complaining in pregnancy after loss because I know how much worse it all could be. I know that there are many women who would be grateful to be able to be complaining about these pregnancy symptoms.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that heart burn or muscle spasms are any more comfortable. In certain moments when I find myself annoyed by these issues, I feel like I must tell the universe that even though I am complaining, I am still glad to be pregnant. It is silly that I feel the need to do this.
Obviously, I would rather be dealing with these concerns than lose this baby or not be pregnant at all, but I don’t want to take any risks by sending the wrong message.
We put registering off to the last possible time, but with baby shower invitations going out soon, we needed to finally take these steps. Knowing the emotional struggle of this pregnancy, our families had given us the choice of not having showers or waiting until after the baby arrives. Eric and I agreed that missing out on a shower while I am still pregnant would have added to the list of things that we didn’t get to experience because our babies died in utero. There are aspects of this – registering, receiving gifts, and prepping a nursery with the hope that we won’t return home to an empty nursery as so many loss parents do – that will be scary. But this baby deserves to be celebrated and prepared for, just as much as our other less happy emotions deserve room to be acknowledged.
I was a bit surprised at how registering felt for me. I knew that I would be overwhelmed by all the choices. I have been reassured by friends that this is a normal pregnancy experience rather than a pregnancy after loss experience. It feels like a lot of pressure to decide which stroller, which crib, and which car seat we should choose. We didn’t get all that far in the store, but we made sure to throw in registering for some of the fun stuff too. Hopefully we will get most of the registering finished this weekend.
I expected registering to be hard because the store personnel would not know our history, but that felt fine. Honestly, they did not interact with us all that much, so there was no expectation of pure excitement or too many congratulations from them. What surprised me the most, though, was how sad I felt as we began the process by looking at nursery furniture. It wasn’t about seeing other expecting couples registering or assuming that they felt more sheer joy than we did. I felt sad knowing that we had not gotten to take these steps for Lentil and Danny.
We have been expecting a baby twice before, but we never got to prepare for them in the way that we are now starting to prepare for this little one.
While I am grateful that we are where we are, it is hard to be moving forward and doing things we never were able to do with our first two babies. If we had never lost Lentil, this baby could realistically be the second healthy baby we were bringing home. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be registering. We would be deciding if we could move our first to a toddler bed before this one arrives.
These same emotions hit me during the ultrasound this week. It is nice to see this baby and get confirmation that all appears to be going well. The only hiccup we experienced this week (besides baby hiccups during the non-stress test), was learning that this baby has a small amount of extra fluid in one of their kidneys. Our doctor reassured us that this is a normal pregnancy issue and not connected with hydrops, stillbirth, or poor pregnancy outcomes in any way. The hope is that it will resolve on its own before birth, and the worst-case scenario is that our child will be monitored by a pediatric urologist and require a surgery at some point if the issue does not resolve by itself.
Even before hearing this news, seeing our 3rd trimester baby on the ultrasound and hearing that they are now 2 pounds, 13 ounces brought tears of sadness that we didn’t get here with Lentil or Danny.
Each step of the way there is such a mixture of joy and sorrow. I don’t always know which of these emotions will be stronger for me at any given moment. Last week, the joy was very present. This week the sorrow feels a little closer.