Week 16: I didn’t think I’d be here

One trimester down. Today I’m 16 weeks and 2 days.

Every passing week the idea of the baby becomes more real. I let go of a little bit more of the anxiety. That feels good. I still — absolutely — get stuck in my head, where it can be a dark place. I’m trying harder to talk through those moments, rather than keeping the fears to myself. In the better moments, I’m relaxing and letting myself feel excited about the life I’m growing.

Little Wookiee’s checkups have all gone well, but not without stress. At my 13 week appointment my midwife wasn’t able to find the heartbeat on the fetal doppler and I spent a few terrifying minutes thinking it was all over. She assured us that at week 13 it can still be difficult to pick up the heartbeat with the fetal doppler. The midwife was so understanding and very quickly found us a room with an ultrasound machine. Within seconds, we thankfully saw Little Wookiee wiggling around. We could breathe again.

Other than a nasty cold, the second trimester so far has been wonderfully uneventful, as advertised. I’m still tired, but overall feeling quite good. So far, I’m a fan.

Graduation Day 👩‍🎓

I graduated from my fertility clinic on July 4. Independence Day. Fitting, right? The greatest nurse on the planet came in on her day off to share the last appointment with us. Although I felt guilty that she took time out of her far-too-few-days-off, I knew that she would, and I was so grateful to be able to look into her eyes as I said my final thank you. (Although it’s hardly a final thank you since I’ve invited her to be in the delivery room with us.)

After what we’ve been through, I don’t think I’ll ever walk into an ultrasound not feeling at least a little nervous. By then we’d already seen and heard Little Wookiee twice, and my nausea, fatigue and sore boobs told me that things were still moving along in there. But I never feel 100% certain. Although they’ve been stitched up and will some day heal enough to scar, the wounds of infertility are still ever-present.

Following the ultrasound, when the wand was put away, my doctor took my hands in his and told us how excited he was for us. He said that while he was writing an email to my OB giving him my background, it stung at how much disappointment we’d seen when boiled down to a few paragraphs.

“You never gave up.”

He was right; I didn’t. I was very close many, many times. But I kept pumping my body full of hormones and wiping away the tears.

But I don’t see this pregnancy, or Little Wookiee, as a reward for not giving up. This isn’t a lesson about going through really hard shit to get what you want. For me — for us — it’s just not that simple. I’m incredibly happy to be pregnant, of course, but it doesn’t negate what’s happened to bring us here.

We’ve graduated but have a long way to go.

Heartbeat

On Friday, for the first time in the last five and a half harrowing years of infertility, I saw and heard the beating heart of my growing child. No matter the outcome of the next 33 weeks, that swish and flicker is cemented on my own heart.

The whole of last week my brain felt like it was on fire. As much as I was genuinely trying to visualize the outcome I want to see, I couldn’t push away the intense anxiety leading up to the first ultrasound. I’m not being dramatic in saying that it was one of the worst weeks of my life. Every tiny pinch or twinge or pseudo-pain my brain told me, this is it, you’re miscarrying. This is happening again. There’s, unfortunately, nowhere to hide from the negative thoughts in your own brain.

I don’t want this post to be overrun with my anxiety, but I write this to say to anyone else out there in a similar position: I hear you. It is so terrifying to wait while you feel like your mind in running full speed toward a cliff.

On the drive to the clinic, I was, as always, looking for signs, wearing my magic bracelet. Anything to help prepare me for what was to come. The previous night I’d had only bad dreams. I’d texted my best friend that I was sure it was my subconscious telling me it wasn’t going to be okay. She replied, “NOT THIS TIME.” I wanted to believe her. Then, on the radio in the car played the song that I walked down the aisle to at my wedding. It was the first time in at least a week I felt like there wasn’t a boulder resting on my chest.

Fast forward to the exam room. My husband and I didn’t really look at each other while we waited. I don’t think we could. I closed my eyes and silently asked all of the people in my life that I’ve loved who are now gone for this to be okay. Please, let this be okay.

When my doctor and the greatest nurse on the planet entered, the tension was palpable. My doctor asked how I was feeling and I eeked out something to the effect of, “I’m really scared.” He nodded, in his warm way, and said, “I’m terrified.” That actually gave me a lot of comfort. He’s so invested in our outcome.

It didn’t take very long after he’d started the ultrasound for me to see the flicker. I said, quietly, “… is that…?” And he nodded with a huge smile. Then all the tears. I reached for my husband’s hand. I looked at him, and he started to cry, too.

Again, I’ll pause my touching story (ahem) to say here that infertility is incredibly hard on relationships. All relationships, but particularly marriages (or partnerships). Sometimes you feel miles apart in the same room. This moment, watching my Alpha Male ex-cop shows no emotion husband cry at the sight of the ultrasound screen allowed me to reconnect with him, and our passion to have a child. I’m so grateful we could share this.

By this time the greatest nurse on the planet was also openly crying. My doc definitely had tears in his eyes, too. Then he turned on the sound and the swishing of the heartbeat brought on another wave of tears.

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5BB is doing great right now. Heartbeat very strong at 123bpm. Measuring (then) at 6 weeks, 4 days, just one day behind my transfer timeline. All signs are positive. My husband has nicknamed the embaby Little Wookiee.