A while ago (maybe a month or so) I realized that I've seen lots of quotes, articles, memes, etc. of women speaking to women about miscarriages and how it made them feel and how they handled it. It occurred to me that I have never seen anything from the male perspective. Men talking to men about the loss. Men are equally affected by the loss, and yet I couldn't find anything where they discussed it or how they dealt with it.
Before we had kids, I always "knew" I'd be super overprotective and a helicopter mom. I "knew" I'd read all the pregnancy books and follow all the "do not eat" lists and research the shit out of things online before making any move of decision. I read What to Expect Before You're Expecting like it was the Bible. Then I got pregnant.
For the first couple months (with Connor, still reeling from the miscarriage), I was obsessed with What to Expect When You're Expecting. I studied it, highlighted seemingly noteworthy sections, put little flags on the pages I wanted to show Hubby or come back to later. It didn't help that I was in bed rest for a hemorrhage for 8 weeks and had nothing to distract myself with. I was the crazy pregnant lady I always knew I would be. Until I started feeling him move and went back to work. Suddenly, I was me again, just bigger and with a stomach that over on its own. I limited my sugar and soda intake, still, and no coffee, but otherwise, I stopped obsessing. That lasted throughout the remainder of my pregnancy.
Enter baby. I don't know what it was, or is, but I just have faith that if something is wrong, I'll know and fix it, otherwise he's fine. Breast feeding in the hospital, I wasn't shy or self conscious (like I expected) I just shoved a boob in his mouth until he attached and got his fill. I'm pretty sure at least half of our friends saw my boobs those first couple days. I was just more interested in feeding my son than catering to anyone else's delicate sensibilities.
Pretty much since day one, I have let him lead the way. I let him do a lot more than my mother is comfortable with (I know because she tells me often) but somewhere along the line I adopted the "let him try and figure things out" attitude. He falls on his face daily, and he's always bruised, bumped or scratched, but he's clever. He's a problem solver who figures shit out for himself and comforts himself most of the time.
Don't misunderstand, I'm always nearby and watching in case he gets really hurt, but I would rather let him figure out the world around him than shelter him and limit his experiences.
I'm not passing judgment on any other parenting styles, so if you're offended by this, you read it wrong. I'm just expressing my surprise at the mom I've turned out to be, so far. I love this version of myself.
I cannot overstate the importance of date night. Especially when you're parents. I have had this conversation numerous times over the years, usually with men, expressing how good (and I argue vital) it is for a healthy relationship to have a regular date night.
This morning was our first ultrasound. 7w1d. I was so anxious, I didn't sleep well and I woke up a few times in the night. We ended up getting there early, and the whole time I was just trying to relax. Breathe. It wasn't easy and I was really just one step away from a panic attack the whole time.
When they finally called us back, I was so on edge I wasn't sure I'd make it all the way back to the room.
The tech was the same woman from 2 years ago, when I was pregnant with Connor and she seemed to remember us. She was so nice and friendly. I got on the table and laid down and Connor started to get nervous. Hubby picked him up and they came and stood by me, to show him everything was ok.
She warned us that it was still early and the over-the-belly u/s might not catch the heartbeat, in which case she'd have to use a more...in depth option. The jelly was cold; it always is. She started rubbing the wand on my belly, apologizing for the cold and having to push around. I told her "you do your thing, I'm good here as long as the baby is fine." Couple seconds and *bam* "There's the baby. See that fluttering there? That's the heartbeat. Let's see if we can hear it." There is no better sound in the world. I felt a weight lift off of me as soon as I heard that rapid pulse. I cried. More than I would like to admit, but I can't properly put to text the anxiety I have been feeling, building for the last couple weeks. It's amazing and so comforting to see that tiny blip and hear its heartbeat.
Bonus! No hemorrhage like I had with Connor. This one, so far, is just straight up healthy. *whew*
Considering it's been 2.5 years since our miscarriage, and the fact that this pregnancy has been textbook good, one might think that I would be relatively worry-free and just happy about this. One would be wrong. Very very wrong.
We heard the heartbeat when we saw the baby at our first (and so far only) ultrasound at 7w1d. It was the most amazing sound in the world and it put me at ease for a little while. I thought we'd get to hear it again at our next appointment the following Friday, but my OB said it was too early for her Doppler to be able to pick it up. I was thoroughly disappointed.
I've spent the last 4 weeks straining and praying to feel the baby move, so I'd know everything was OK. I'm pretty sure I felt movement a couple times, but it's so early that I manage to talk myself out of believing I really felt the baby. Today was my light at the end of thee tunnel. Well, honestly, it's more like a check point in some seriously long, life altering tunnel. I kept telling myself "no signs of trouble, and you'll hear the heart in a couple weeks/days/hours". Didn't really relieve my stress at all.
When the doc came in, she visited for a couple minutes, talked to Connor, asked how I was feeling, but she knows what pregnant mommas are looking for when they come, so she got down to business. Connor got a little nervous when she first started rubbing icy jelly and the Doppler around on me, a combo of loud sounds and weird visuals, but he got over it quickly. She moved around, relocated, pushed down harder, lighten her touch, adjusting...adjusting...adjusting. Never a good sign. I know what I'm supposed to be hearing, but I'm not. I just hear my heart. In my head, I'm trying not to freak out, playing out how this will go, how will she tell us, how will we tell everyone else. Please, keep in mind that this is all running through my head in 2 minutes or less. She says "I hear it, but it's hiding and mixing in with yours. I'll try and isolate it." That gives me a little comfort, because if she can hear it, then the baby must be OK. Another minute ticks by and still nothing. Then, like a goddamn miracle, I hear it. That rapid little thump thump thump of a happy, healthy baby heart. I instantly relax and start crying. My doctor chuckles, "wow, you were really nervous." She's been with us from day 1, so she knows my history and she remembers how stressed I'd get with Connor. She just smiled and let me listen for considerably longer than "normal." It was perfect.
Traditionally, I'm not an anxious person. I can take things as they come and handle what needs doing. Until it comes to pregnancy. Thanks to starting off on the wrong foot over 2 years ago, I am literally always stressed about the baby. I know it will be easier when I can feel the movement and know that everything is OK in there, but that is still (more than likely) weeks away. Fucking miscarriage. Ruins things even years and years later. I'm so grateful this is our last pregnancy. I don't think I can handle this stress again.
On December 31st, Hubby and I found out we were expecting our second (and final) baby. The news was met with mixed emotions: exhilaration, stress, excitement, fear, nervousness, and a bit of nausea. I was 3 weeks and 4 days (aka 3w4d) when we found out. Considerably earlier than when we found out with Connor.
Today (Jan 8th), i'm 4w5d and most of the fear has faded. I had my first OB appointment this morning. Hubby and Connor both came with me. It took 3 hours, 5 vials of blood, a urine sample, and a near blackout, but I'm definitely pregnant! At this stage in my pregnancy, we haven't told people. My plan is to wait until our dads' birthdays in mid-Feb (I'll be about 10 weeks by then) and announce it as their birthday presents. We'll see if I can actually hold out that long.
This pregnancy has been drastically different from Connor already. With Connor, I didn't get nauseous until the second trimester. With this one, I've been feeling sickly ever night for a week. I'm exhausted all the time (which was true with Connor too) but thankfully, my sweet little boy still wants to take two 2 hour naps everyday, so I get to relax and sleep as much as possible.
I posted about miscarriage PTSD (at 4w2d) and I have to say, that fear and dread of going through that experience again is debilitating. I honestly have no idea how I'd be able to handle losing another baby. Which is one of the reasons we haven't told people yet. That and I think it would be fun to announce with an actual sonogram picture. Since this is our last planned baby, I want to make sure I don't skimp on any of the fun stuff. I was vigilant in savoring every moment with Connor because he was my first. I intend to be the same way with this one.
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Writer and Contributor for the Motherhood Community