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To Mark These Pregnant Days

 

15w4d - Every pregnancy is rife with milestones; so too is the one after a loss. Maybe you’re initially a different shade of ill than you were the first—or second—go-round. Perhaps you tell more friends this time, much earlier, in the event that you need the support you longed for previously (or, you tell no one but your partner and your parents, so as to avoid the heartfelt but unwelcome excitement and queries of friends). You make it past the week in which you lost your second baby; you feel more grateful, less deserving than you ever have in your life. You pray, maybe, and when that doesn’t feel right you finally accept a roster of pray-ers, promising them to pay it forward, somehow, and hoping you’re not lying.

You blow through the week your first pregnancy ended, and maybe you don’t even realize it at the time because you’re so healthily exhausted that all you can bear is to be horizontal, terribly embarrassed to be watching consecutive seasons of Say Yes to the Dress. Your nights become loops of peeing and worrying: Is tomorrow when this all ends? and We need a nightlight for this hallway.

Then, there, on the sonogram: A literal flicker of confirmation, the motor of a tiny heart powering a tiny bean baby. The thing you had so hoped to see the last two times you’d lain on similar tables with equally absurdly young ultrasound techs; this time, she’s literally squealing as she guides your inner-anatomy tour. 

Milestone: You wince only half as hard when you see it’s your midwife calling with the positive results of your bloodwork.

Milestone: You’re reminded that your due date falls a month before you finish your graduate program. Which means that there may be an actual baby preventing you from taking your actual finals, which means that this baby, in this moment, is much, much more than a concept.

Milestone: You toss a forgiving wrap dress into your Target cart, only pausing a second now to wonder if you’re tempting fate.

You realize you’ve gone several days without thinking about your first pregnancy, the longer one. You feel guiltier than you have in a long time and it disarms you, sending you straight off to bed while there are papers to write and a dog to walk and a baby—a potentially very, very healthy baby—growing inside you right now who sure could use the energy you’re wasting feeling neglectful on actually growing some eyebrows or kneecaps.

You’re weaned off the progesterone suppositories that may very well be the only reason you’re still with this child. You have been on them since the week before you conceived, and though once you cursed the way they stained your skivvies, now you are terrified: All along you imagined each waxy hormone nugget to be the mortar cementing this pregnancy into place, and now you’re being advised to “let the placenta take over.” You don’t trust the placenta.

At 15 weeks and four days, you tell your midwife that you haven’t felt the baby move yet—that you know this is normal, that 18 to 22 weeks to feel a first baby wiggle is the usual, but that you’re just hoping for a little confirmation … because you’re feeling sort of disconnected from this pregnancy … and it would be so reassuring to feel that swimmy-swim real moms talk about…

And Midwife takes your hands and looks you straight in the eye and says, Prepare to have your heart crack open when you feel those first movements: You cannot anticipate the depth of the joy it will give you. You should use this time to get ready.

 Milestone: You get ready, whatever that means.

 

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