The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Today, the sun was out, I found unexpected bunches of wildflowers in the yard, and I had a moment of peace to lie on the grass and consider the baby growing inside of me. It was the simplest sort of bliss--a touch of solitude, the knowledge that Sylvia and Aron were together having a good time (see photo), and nothing, really just about nothing, was making me hesitate about the blessings of my life.
It's amazing what an ultrasound can do.
"Pregnant women are very suggestible"
Why am I so nervous about this pregnancy?
I really don't have a good reason to be worried, but in the week leading up to the ultrasound I was a silent mess about it. I was feeling the baby move, but not as often as I remembered with Sylvia. I had my quad-screen--the blood test that tells you if you should have an amnio--and nothing turned up. I even double-checked with the midwife at my last checkup to make sure I shouldn't have any further tests, like nuchal transparency or or a level 2 ultrasound. She sort of shrugged. "You have no age factor. [I'm 33.] You have no family history. You've had a previous healthy pregnancy. I see nothing to worry about," she said.
So I don't know what my problem is. In my Sylvia pregnancy, I was much more trusting that everything would be okay. I was always interested and a little anxious to get test results back, but not like this. A friend pointed out that having gone through one pregnancy, I might now have more of a sense of what could go wrong, and how lucky I am that nothing did. That sounds right. It's like every time I catch myself getting excited about this baby--not about being pregnant, or a growing family, but this baby right here--I begin to have doubts about the pregnancy.
My midwife also once said something which could help explain it. We were talking about pregnancy horror stories. "It's tough, because horrible things can and do happen. But they shouldn't be understood as normal events," she said. "But pregnant women are very suggestible. They overhear a conversation, and it's impossible for them not to think that this thing that happened to somebody else will absolutely happen to them."
She said this in a totally sympathetic way, and I was comforted. But is this really just another interesting side-effect of pregnancy: forgetfulness, crying jags, and suggestibility? Maybe it's that once we're pregnant, we relate so completely to all currently, formerly, or future pregnant women--and anything that has happened to one of us feels like it could just as easily happen to the rest of us.
Finding out and not telling
The stakes are so high, aren't they? We go in for an ultrasound so that the doctors and midwives know that the baby is healthy, has all the right parts. But it also provides an opportunity to stare at the future as it somersaults and yawns within us. It's as if we're supposed to approach it as just another prenatal test, when emotionally the pull is more like an episode of "This is Your Life."
It turns out that this baby right here was in a sort of upside-down, cross-legged, back-to-the-technician sort of mood. Like we caught him or her in an in-between moment. So while she spent a good 30 minutes looking carefully, and taking every sort of possible screen shot, the technician could not swear that the baby is definitely a boy or a girl. (She was almost 100% sure that it's one or the other--but I'm not going to say which. In fact, even though we're telling family and friends, I'm pretty sure I'm not going to announce it here until the baby is born. Suspense! It's what the readers want! Or at least it's what the readers are going to get.)
But everything that could be seen looked good--just couldn't get the necessary angle for absolute penis-or-no-penis detection, or for certain shots of the heart and spine (oh, THOSE). So we're going to go back in two weeks for more.
The emotional impact of seeing the baby on the screen was very different than our first glimpse of Sylvia. With that first experience, Aron and I were both moved to tears--there she was! We made that little girl! She's right here! That exhilaration was absent this time, to my surprise. But then it made sense that we wouldn't be feeling it. I mean, it's like: The miracle of life. We get it.
What we don't know--and because we've been there before, know that we won't know for a while--is who this kid is exactly. Personality, facial expressions, preferences. What we saw on the screen three years ago couldn't have told us who Sylvia is today--the way she can seem so serious and then burst into a fit of giggles, her affinity for all things car-related, and the way her neck smells when she settles in next to us in bed in the morning. For that, we'll have to wait.
What this ultrasound did give me was peace of mind. I'm so much more at ease than I was at this time last week. Even though I've been asked to come back for a better look, I feel now that everything is really going to be all right. While I wish I had seen even more, what I did get to glimpse of my next child was enough for now: I feel like this baby's mom.
And as this baby's mom, I decided today to kick back for a few minutes, breathe in the warm spring afternoon air,
and let it not feel like tempting fate to feel lucky. These kids of mine deserve a mother who feels like she deserves them. Today, that's what they got.
Join writer Emily Bloch each week as she chronicles her pregnancy.
Next week: Emily experiences a maternity clothes debacle.