Remember what it was like? When Week 11 was SO exciting, when you were so close to another ultrasound, to being ‘safe’, to feeling better, to being ready to shout your pregnancy from the rooftops?
I remember that too. I wish that was still Week 11. Instead, I’ve deemed this Doppler Week. The week that I break out the Doppler that is meant to bring me reassurance, even though I know it’s not a sure find this week, and that there is good reason that most medical professionals advise against pregnant women even having home dopplers. But, I can’t stand it anymore. I begin digging through the bags that I thought were staying in storage a bit longer, telling myself I just need one listen. But I can’t find it, and I start thinking about all the people I have lent my ‘pregnancy kits’ to over the years. Did I give it away? Sell it in a fit of ‘I won’t need this next time?’. My anxiety is rising and I post in my local mom’s group – ‘anyone have one to borrow? Will return in a few weeks.’ Luckily, someone jumps to my rescue, and I drive across town to meet them in the Babies R Us parking lot.
This is where I think my second PAL diverges from the first. I get the Doppler, start my car, reverse out of my parking spot. But wait – I’d been looking at carseats online wondering which would fit in our car best next to my toddler’s seat. I pull back in, and head inside. I stare at carseat bases and ask someone if I can take it out to try in my car. It hits me at that moment – I am acting entirely normal. I am a mom, in early pregnancy, entirely convinced she’s bringing this baby home, and wondering which seat will fit in her car, before her body has even told the world she’s pregnant.
One half of me, driving across town to get a doppler, because I am so unsure of my current pregnant state at any given moment that I need to get that reassurance. The other half, blissfully pulling down shades on infant carseats. One half present, one half panicked. This is my life now, the balance of grief and hope. Of anxiety and peace. Of parenting living children and a dead one.
When I get home, I can’t wait. I lie down on the bed, and, telling myself it still might be early, I begin that heart-pounding search. The train of thought, unfortunately, goes so much like that fateful day when I showed up at the hospital and discovered Layla’s heart wasn’t beating. Is that it? Nope, that’s my heartbeat. The sound of a whoosh whooshing placental artery. Is that? Yes, I think that’s it. That’s that horse clop, the train tracks, and the Doppler begins to register, 135… 142… 155… 160. I listen to the sweet sound, call my husband in. In that moment, I am reassured.
Not 10 minutes later, I’m second guessing. Was that really it? Are you sure, honey, that you heard it? Did we definitely hear it? Did I imagine it? He says, yes, darling, we heard it. In that moment, we heard our baby’s heart beating. I promised myself then, I’d wait until my midwife appointment to get another listen. That each time I heard it should buy me at least a week before I needed to hear it again.
But I can’t – I can’t wait. I try again the next morning. Can’t find it. Try again the next night. Can’t find it. The next day – I think I found it again, I heard it, I know I heard it, but it was never enough to register the count. Darn it, baby. Where are you?
Today, as I write this, it’s Easter Sunday and we’re off to see family. 11 weeks. It should be time to talk about it. Half the family knows, half of them don’t. Would I be ready to talk about it if I’d already had that 12 week ultrasound? If I had confidently heard that heartbeat? Would it make a difference? If I were showing? But I’m not – I’m not ready to talk about it. I’m not ready to celebrate just yet. Mostly because I’m not ready to deliver bad news, again, if we lost this baby too. So instead I’ll just stuff my face with chocolate and eggs, hope no one says anything, and hold my breath until my midwife appointment tomorrow, where I’ll relax for another 5 minutes or so before starting the week all over again.