Week 12: Hearing Baby's Heartbeat

Suddenly it all feels real.


Last week, at 11 weeks pregnant, I had my first prenatal appointment with a fantastic midwife, Penni Harmon, C.N.M., at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) Hospital in Portland. James and I had been anticipating the appointment so we could hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time.

Penni checked my uterus to make sure it was the appropriate size for how far along I am. Sure enough, she confirmed it was the size of a navel orange and my due date (roughly October 8, 2013) was on target. Then she said something I didn't want to hear: She didn't think we'd be able to hear the heartbeat that day. I could feel my face crumpling.

Penni had seen three other women before me that day in the same stage of pregnancy, and hadn't been able to locate the heartbeat on any of them. She assured me it was nothing to worry about; it was just a little early. I asked her to try anyway, and she agreed.

At first, all I could hear was static. Then, a beat-beat-beat that turned out to be my own pulse. Finally, Penni said, "Can you hear it?" We didn't, at first. Then, all of a sudden, there it was: the rapid, unmistakable beating of my baby's heart. James and I both teared up instantly. It was a sweet sound, especially after thinking we wouldn't be able to hear it that day.

Aside from the highlight of hearing the heartbeat, weeks nine through 12 have been blissfully uneventful. I've continued to have very minimal nausea and no vomiting (still thanking my lucky stars daily!), and my energy has been really good. I sometimes take a short nap or lay down in the afternoons, but rarely sleep more than an hour, if that. I've had a couple of nights of insomnia, waking around 2 or 3 a.m. and not being able to go back to sleep until 5 or 6 a.m., but it is rare so far. I'm wondering if insomnia will become more frequent as the size of my belly increases and it gets more difficult to get comfortable. Right now, I'm relishing the last bit of time that I can sleep on my back.

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At the beginning of week 11, I had to upsize my jeans by one size. My lower belly has always had a pooch, but the pooch is definitely expanding now. It feels bigger, and looks a little bigger. But no maternity wear just yet. I did pick up my first piece of maternity clothing, though. I found a cute, short-sleeved striped top at Goodwill for $7 that will be perfect once the weather warms up some, and the timing should coincide nicely with my belly popping.

A newfound hobby I am enjoying is scouring baby consignment shops and thrift stores for gently used baby clothes. On a recent trip to visit my friend Rebecca in Santa Barbara, she took me to a couple of places and I was able to pick up an adorable pajama bodysuit and a really nice newborn-sized sweater for just $4 each, and some brand new baby wash cloths for 25 cents a piece. I don't normally have the patience to go through thrift stores for stuff for myself, but looking for nice baby clothes is fun, and getting them at bargain prices is even more fun. I also like the idea of recycling as much as I can as opposed to spending more money for new stuff that the baby will grow out of quickly.

Although I feel it's a bit early, and I also have quite a bit of baby stuff stashed in storage (hoarded from years of editing baby gear stories), I have started a registry at the urging of my longtime friend Rachael. Even though there's still several months to go, she's anxious to start shopping. The registry isn't quite finished yet, but I've already chosen the crib, bedding, highchair and glider rocker/ottoman, plus essentials like bodysuits.

Next up: A blood test and ultrasound for part one of the Sequential Screen, a screening test to help identify the likelihood (or not) of Down Syndrome, trisomy 18 (often lethal) and some cardiac defects. It is nerve-wracking, and also optional, but I've decided to have the screening and make decisions on pursuing further diagnostic testing, like Amnio, once the screening results are in.

Read more: Here's what's happening during Week 12 of your pregnancy >>