Rather, I’m expanding. Baby #2 is officially due in mid-February next year, close enough to my own birthday that my husband is excited he might not have to memorize another date.
The wait to announce this news publicly was excruciating. As most of you know, I suffered a missed miscarriage last year in October while my husband was deployed. It was one of those life-altering events that makes you take stock of your priorities and really figure out what’s important. It made my previous confidence in being a natural baby-bearer vanish as I received the news in silence. I took comfort in numbers, learning that upwards of 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage in the first trimester – a figure I hadn’t thought was that high before it happened to me – with the cause usually unknown. As I began processing the loss and started telling friends and family, I learned that many of my close friends had either had miscarriages of their own or knew a couple who had. I wasn’t alone.
When I found out I was pregnant this time (yes, lockdown baby), I felt conflicted. I wanted to tell the world the good news. I wanted to let everyone know when I knew at two weeks that I was expecting. But I also dreaded the idea of explaining another loss. At 36, I’m an older mother and classified in many maternal categories as higher risk. My chance of conceiving twins is higher; my chance of having a baby with Down’s Syndrome is higher; my chance of miscarriage is higher. Maybe I’d be that woman who’d have two losses in a row. Maybe I’d have a baby with genetic abnormalities. Maybe I’d contract Covid-19 while pregnant and pass it on to my unborn child. I worried that I’d never be able to carry a pregnancy to term again because I’d only be getting older as we kept trying. Irrational fears, sure, but these thoughts fluttered through my head often enough to keep me awake at night.
For eleven weeks, I’ve kept quiet. Yes, we told immediate family and very close friends – people I’d be comfortable sharing bad news with – but the weeks dragged by. When I took the home pregnancy test that confirmed everything, we allowed ourselves to feel the excitement of parents-to-be once again. Then the pregnancy symptoms hit. Hard. At six weeks, I felt as if I had been drained of every drop of energy in my body, often falling asleep with my daughter during her nap time and shortly after putting her to bed. I was sleeping upwards of 14 hours in a 24-hour period. If I ate more than a moderately-sized meal, food coma would hit so badly I could barely function. Because I was sleeping so much, I stopped exercising. A few times a week, I forced myself to take the dog for a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood for both our benefits, but I stopped looking at my daily step count. And although I wouldn’t classify myself as having had morning sickness or nausea, I experienced a reduction of appetite. This was new, because I have always loved food and my first pregnancy only saw me avoid bread in the third trimester. I plateaued in my weight gain for the next three weeks.
On top of the food/sleep combo, my body ballooned quickly. I knew subsequent pregnancies changed a woman’s body faster – it remembers – but I wasn’t prepared for just how fast. At six weeks, one of my husband’s work friends asked if I was pregnant. Six weeks! (Here I thought I could just shrug it off as lockdown fluff…) And my boobs. Holy cow, did they grow. I’m blessed with small melons and I like that just fine, but my body decided earlier was better. Cue sore nipples, hot breasts, and a no-touching policy that expanded to my whole body for almost a month. No unexpected hugs, no caressing my jiggly belly, and certainly no sleeping with an arm cuddled over my torso like those cute couples in advertisements endorse. The summer heat hasn’t helped. Husband’s nickname of Snarling Beast Wife hasn’t quite worn off yet.
Obviously, I was nervous and anxious when I walked into the ultrasound office yesterday. This was the point in my last pregnancy, lying helpless on the table with cold lube coating my belly, where I received the worst possible news. I was afraid of a repeat situation. I had told myself over and over that those chances were unlikely, that I was healthy and in shape, that my continued obvious pregnancy symptoms were good signs. But I still had my doubts. It is easier to plan for the worst and hope for the best. I was protecting myself and I knew it, but I couldn’t help it. This is how I coped. The sonographers were lovely and as I told them my fears and what happened last time, they listened and assured me they would deliver any news honestly. And they did.
My 12-week scan showed a beautifully developing baby, larger than I had anticipated and thus one week farther along than I expected. It also confirmed there was only a singleton in there; no twins again this time. (For the record, my husband now owes me a back massage. His response: “But where’s the other baby? This doesn’t explain why you’ve been so moody this time.”) The relief of seeing that steady heartbeat galloping at three times the speed of my own nearly made me tear up. And then I stifled a bout of giggles as the student sonographer tried to position the wand in the correct spot as that baby squirmed and kicked and performed The Worm inside me. I kid you not, I’ve never seen a fetus as wiggly as this one. To top it off, when the more experienced sonographer “took over driving,” that little kid had completely flipped directions. You can even see it in the picture below – head was pointed to the right and then it changes to the left.
I know the road is still long. We’ve still got our 20-week anomaly scan. We’ve still got two more trimesters to go. But to have made it through my first scan, and my first trimester, is a huge win. I can’t wait to see how this little human turns out.
Notebook: Although Beaner looks less than delighted at the news, I’m confident she’ll love being a big sister.