November 4, 2016 8 minute read
I’m sitting in our home office with a hot decaf latte at my side and wool socks bunched up on my feet. The wind is howling and the rain is hitting the window and my mind is running all over the place. Somehow it’s already November, and I finally feel like I can write a post on this pregnancy so far. I’ve been sharing a lot on my Instagram, writing bits and pieces in my iPhone Notes app, and drafting personal trimester recaps, but I haven’t really done a traditional blog post on this baby boy. Partly because I didn’t know what I wanted to compile into one big post and partly because it didn’t feel right to share “trimester recaps” – those are reserved for Reid. But here I am at 31 weeks finding that things are starting to move into place. So here’s a bit about what growing this baby boy has been like so far.
I still remember seeing those two pink lines again for the first time since Reid was conceived. After months of climbing my way up from rock bottom I recognized the foreign feeling of pure, unrestricted joy. Of course, there were a whole mix of other emotions that followed but they were nothing compared to the happiness I felt knowing that, once again, I was carrying life inside me. Those first 14 weeks brought a lot of medical issues with them: bleeding, managing my postpartum thyroiditis, and a diagnosis of gestational diabetes. But if this pregnancy is going to be the opposite of my low risk one with Reid, I’m definitely aware how lucky I am that these are some of the things that are making it high risk.
With Reid we were under the care of a midwife through a birth program called the South Community Birth Program that was made up of a team of nurses, doctors, and midwives. My pregnancy and birth were both beautiful experiences, and I really wanted to have the same women be a part of my maternity care with this baby, but I also knew that I would need to give myself permission to do what felt right in the moment. I deliberated trying to get shared care between South and an OB during the first few weeks of this pregnancy, but in the end I knew that what was best for me and this baby was being placed solely in the care of a high risk OB. Yes, I wish that the team that looked after me with Reid could also look after me and this baby, because they were amazing (and had no part in the reason for his passing), but I know I’ve made the right choice in going with the OB I’m seeing now. Her confidence in the safe arrival of our second child has given me that same confidence too.
Finding out we were expecting another little boy was one of the highlights of this pregnancy so far. We opted to pay privately to get the NIPT testing done primarily to rule out the need to worry about any trisomies that might result in us having to deal with stillbirth or neonatal death. And since the NIPTs are 99.9% accurate we felt really good about this decision – though statistics still don’t provide me with the same reassurance that they once used to. I went in for the blood test at 10 weeks and 4 days on June 10th and was told we’d hear back within 7-10 business days! I texted my OB on June 22nd, business day 8 (because she’s incredible and lets me text her when I start to go crazy), and she texted me back saying that she would hunt down the results and let me know as soon as she saw.
An hour later I saw her name pop up on my notifications. I held my breath and swiped left to read:
“It’s normal!! It’s a boy!!!!”
I simultaneously felt tremendous relief at learning that our baby was healthy and also total shock at finding out it was a boy! I had spent the whole first trimester up until that point adjusting to the idea that it was a girl and preparing myself mentally for the possibility of not raising a son earth-side. We even had a name picked out! I was also sitting right beside my friend, Micaela, when I got this news and it took every ounce of strength not to tell her (we had plans to reveal the news to our families and close friends with a fun party like we did with Reid just two days later). But the more I thought about it that day the more I just knew that having a little boy was exactly what we needed, and exactly what I’d been too afraid to admit to myself that I wanted so desperately. Obviously a healthy baby is all I really wanted, but having another little boy is just so perfect for our family. When I called Aaron right after getting the news his voice carried that same beautiful mix of relief and joy that I was feeling. It was the best. I know he will be an incredible father to an earth-side boy – he was made for it.
I first felt this baby kick at 15 weeks. A whole week earlier than I felt Reid but not nearly as consistently. I found out later that this was because I have an anterior placenta which affected how much movement I felt early on. But Aaron was still able to feel his first kick nice and early at 16 weeks! Then not again until 18 weeks. This baby has such different movements than Reid that I’m realizing just how much of their personalities show early on. He does a lot of wiggling and gentle nudging rather than really active bouts of strong kicks like Reid did. But he sure does one thing that his big brother did, and that’s keeping his feet up in my right ribs. I first felt them there at 23 weeks, the exact week I first felt Reid make contact with my right ribs. I panicked at first, but now that I’ve had 8 weeks of this I’ve come to realize this is one of those special things that my two boys will share. Like any siblings, they’re bound to have things that they do that are similar.
Interestingly enough, I can’t remember getting a single comment of “you’re so small” or “you’re so big” – the terms that I heard a lot of in my pregnancy with Reid that inspired me to write this article on belly sizes and personal choices. It must have something to do with my friends and family having read that article, but also with the fact that for most people, that’s not the most exciting part of this pregnancy. It’s all about how much of a miracle this baby boy is and people’s reactions to my belly are more about him than me, and I love it. However, I have been growing like crazy. It’s true when they say you show quicker and faster with subsequent pregnancies. And I just love my big, round belly. It is sustaining a tiny human being and two pregnancies later this is still so amazing to me. It’s incredible what womens’ bodies can do.
The fact that we have less than 7 more weeks until we’re set to be induced has started to let some anxiety in. So far in this pregnancy after loss I haven’t seen much of it. I’ve been diligent with my self-care and good about getting regular exercise and taking things day by day, but if I’m being honest, it hasn’t been a struggle to keep the fear and doubt at bay. I’ve just felt so strongly from the very beginning that this child has a lot of living to do on this earth. This feeling has blessed us all with the ability to celebrate this baby in all of the same ways that we were able to celebrate Reid. It’s true that there are a lot of things in pregnancy after loss that are bittersweet, scary, and triggering, but my heart and mind have naturally gravitated towards resting on the sweet side, finding peace in these times, and seeing the beauty there is in sharing some of the memories I created with Reid with his little brother. Realizing that life is so precious and that no one is guaranteed a long one has helped us to make each day this baby is given special and allowed us to fill it to the brim with love.
And I live for this – all of it. After two and a half years, two babies, and 18 months of being pregnant I’ve spent a good portion of my twenties growing tiny humans. If you’d asked me back in high school where I saw myself at this point in life it definitely wouldn’t have been here. But there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Motherhood wasn’t something I always knew I wanted but when those two pink lines appeared with Reid I realized I was made for it. It became my passion, my dream, my drive in life. Through mothering and writing and doula-ing this whole maternal world is where I’ve found my calling. And so pregnancy will always be so magical to me – the beginning of my dream I’m living out, the one that brought me my two perfect boys.
But now that this birth is so close I have to respect that the very real trauma and grief that we experienced last time are starting to resurface. I feel the same excitement and joy that the rest of my family and friends are feeling but for me there’s this very real connection that the days leading up to life entering this world have with life exiting it too – in our world, birth and death are so intimately entwined. But I know that this baby is not his big brother and that this birth will be it’s own unique experience. I’m having to make more of a conscious effort to remind myself of theses things – remind myself that all I have to do is believe that everything is happening exactly as it should and that God is in control. It can sometimes be hard to find solace in that when I know all too well that this child could also leave us too soon, but no matter what happens it won’t change the fact that this baby is such a blessing to his family and a tremendous gift to this world. However, I find myself holding on to my unwavering belief that we’ll be bringing this boy home with us in December. Between my incredible husband, my family, my friends, my doctors, my specialists, my mama friends who have been through pregnancy after loss before, and my self care routine I have got the most incredible support system to help get me and this precious child of ours through.
Thank you all for being such a big part of this journey, for following along, and for offering up so many words and prayers for peace and strength over these next 7 weeks. Our family of four is so grateful!