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Week 21

Jun10

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week by week pregnancyYour Baby:

  • Is about 10 1/2 inches long, head to toe.
  • Passes time by sucking his or her thumb and even opening and closing his or her eyes. And you know, elbowing you in the vital organs.
  • Is like, kicking for serious now, and the movements cannot only be felt from the outside, they can often be seen. Lie on your back and watch the weird ripples and dips of baby limbs. (For the full Jurassic Park effect, do this in the tub and watch the water rings vibrate out from your belly.)

You:

  • Are possibly getting accosted in public with unsolicited belly rubs and unsolicited pregnancy advice. I’m not sure which is more annoying.
  • Oh, so THREE of the pregnancy books I use to compile these bullet thingies mentioned that we should all be feeling downright awesome and fabulous right now. Not too big and uncomfortable, lots of energy, able to sleep through the night without peeing, etc. If that describes you, well…LA DEE FRICKING DA. HOW LOVELY THAT MUST BE FOR YOU.

It was a big week over here in Personal First-Person All-About-Me Land, what with the revelation that we are having another little boy, and then deciding on said little boy’s name within about 12 hours of said revelation, and my God, the whole pregnancy endeavor took a wild flying leap out of the figurative-and-hypothetical realm and is now solidly in the my God, my GOD, this is really really real.

And yet…I do this thing, I don’t know why, but when I am pregnant I get addicted to the worst-case scenario stories. Last time my husband would arrive home from work and find me parked on the couch, ice cream in hand, mesmerized by the birth shows on TLC and the Discovery Channel. And not the happy gingham-drenched I-gave-birth-in-the-master-bedroom A Baby Story, I’m talking about the drama-heavy When Childbirth Attacks! shows. The pre-eclampsia stories, the micro-preemies, the babies born with terrible, deadly birth defects. The shows were every “Up Next!” commercial bump included a shot of a clearly worried doctor flying into an operating room or an expectant mother turning away from the camera, drenched in sweat and tears.

“Why in the WORLD are you watching this stuff?” my husband would ask, clearly freaked out of his gourd after 15 mere seconds of bloody c-section footage. And I honestly don’t know why I watched it. I just sort of…needed to watch it.

He made me promise that I wouldn’t watch those shows this time, and I’ve kept that promise. He probably wouldn’t think much of my NEW hobby, however, which is basically the same thing, only in blog form.

“Dead baby blogs” is what one of my friends (and the keeper of such a blog herself) called them. “Stop reading us,” she ordered me, after she realized I was reading them while still in the first trimester and sobbing at my laptop every day. I didn’t listen.

Stillbirths. Placental abruptions. Incompetent cervixes. Terminations for medical reasons. High-risk multiples. Cord accidents. Waters breaking before viability. And the ever-terrifying “we just don’t even know what happened, but we are sorry for your loss nonetheless.” I can now recite a morbid anecdote for just about any horror story you’d like to discuss. I am like every awful episode of ER that ever involved a pregnant woman rolled into an all-day marathon.

I absolutely cannot explain this compulsion. I have no excuse for what, on the surface, probably seems like a disgusting penchant for emotional tourism. I read other parents’ pain, have myself a good heaving snotty sob on their behalf, and then wander off to contemplate my nursery and affectionately poke the wiggling, kicking little boy in my belly.

I just…need to know. I need to see that you can keep breathing after something like that happens.

Just knowing that horrible things can happen in pregnancy will never “prepare” you for them, if they happen to you. It won’t make things hurt less or or make you fold your hands quietly in resignation while the doctor delivers bad news. It does, however, remind me to cherish every moment I do get with my baby, even the uncomfortable “is it October yet?” moments. If something were to go wrong and these weeks of pregnancy were all I ever got to experience with this child, that wouldn’t make him less real. Less of my ever-so-loved-already son, who has his big brother’s mouth and his own name and his own place in our family.

I don’t want to sound trite or sappy here, or imply that I’m using other people’s pain to remind me to…I don’t know, put on a happy rainbow face or something. So I don’t really have a neat little conclusion here, except that one of the biggest surprises about pregnancy and parenthood is that you really do start to feel it all, in a way you’ve never experienced before. That happiness and sadness and fear and doubt and worry and joy and love are so unbelievably mixed and jumbled up together that you can’t separate them out anymore, and to ignore the bad is to do a disservice to the good.

Oh Yeah, THIS: My baby is already measuring slightly bigger than average. So probably no newborn-sized diapers for us. Again. Sheesh. (9 pounds, 15 ounces last time, in case I haven’t mentioned that fact 17 zillion times already.)

New This Time Around: I had full-on morning sickness this week. One minute I’m happily eating some eggs and toast and the next minute I’m yakking it all up in the bathroom. But this point last time I had regained the 10 pounds I lost in the first trimester AND THEN SOME, while as it stands right now I am up a whopping four pounds from my first doctor’s visit. I would probably be worrying about this, except for, you know, SEE ABOVE, ME AND MAH GIGANTIC BABIES.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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27 Responses to “Week 21”

  1. Sarah Jun 12 at 11:55 am Reply Reply

    Congrats on your little boy! We have our big ultrasound tomorrow morning, and I could not be more excited about it.

  2. psumommy Jun 12 at 2:00 pm Reply Reply

    I’m gaining all of that extra weight for you, you’re welcome. I’m up to 30lbs now at 6 months. Whee!
    I think those awful horror stories come out of the woodworks when a woman is pregnant. It doesn’t matter if you seek them out. People TELL them to you. I love how pregnancy brings out the tact in everyone! The great thing for me, though, is that this time around, people are kinda shocked when they find out this is number 4 and stand there and stammer for a bit…so I have a chance for a quick getaway. I love it!

  3. erin Jun 12 at 4:11 pm Reply Reply

    I thought people were telling me those things just because it was my first…last baby shower i was at, it turned into full-on war stories and my ride thankfully rescued me from the carnage. I think they liked watching me freeze up all horrified like that, like i would not have made it through what they survived.
    I am measuring large also, but have gained 14 or so pounds at what will be 6 mos tomorrow. Girl!

  4. Marcoda Jun 13 at 9:58 am Reply Reply

    I’m 31 weeks with my second baby, first son. Also measuring big: at my 30 week check up I measured 33 weeks. No big surprise: his sister was 9 pounds 10 ounces and 23 inches long. I keep telling Baby Boy that if he wants to prove mommy wrong about having big babies, he’ll come out at a nice 7 pounds-something.
    I went through a week of reading “those stories” and my husband ordered me to stop. Now I just read regular good ol’ fashioned murder stories from the local paper. Preggies are a sick breed, aren’t they? :)

  5. Beth Jun 13 at 4:42 pm Reply Reply

    I write one of “those” blogs and am now 28 weeks along with another (so far uneventful! Yay!). I understand the need to read/watch about the worst case scenario. I promise, it does not help you get through it when it happens – there is really no need to do that to yourself. My Old Man banned me from reading my sister dead baby blogs for good reason. Pregnancy makes us crazy – really, the men folk know better when it comes to scaring the shit out of ourselves.

  6. Tiffany Jun 13 at 7:35 pm Reply Reply

    Ahh! The dead baby stories… I am glad to know I’m not alone. I don’t know why I focus on them so much, but I do. And my mom has her own personal story, as she lost my little sister when she was 22 weeks along, and she had to deliver her … so I think that’s why I am obsessed.
    It’s weird though. Prepregnancy I wouldn’t have read any of them, now I can’t stop.

  7. Robyn Jun 15 at 6:57 am Reply Reply

    Just wanted to drop a note to say that I really do enjoy reading your witty, weekly updates. I found this week to be particularly touching. I was only 2 weeks ahead of you and I would have been 23 weeks this week. I am living one of “those stories” as I just lost my baby at 20 weeks. He was our first after a few rounds of infertility treatments.
    Yes, I had to deliver, epidural and all. I had a boy. I found your site around 15 weeks and even though I lost my baby, I can’t seem to stop coming here to read what stage I would have been in had I not lost Mason. So I guess my shoe is on the other foot in the fact that my hubby also yells at me “Why must you keep torturing yourself by reading that?”
    I guess it is just one of those things. Thank you for the wonderful columns you write weekly. I wish you and all of the other pregnant mothers out there a happy and healthy pregnancy.

  8. Ashlee Jun 20 at 10:21 am Reply Reply

    Thank you. I am now in my 21 first week and I have suddenly been having all of these bad thoughts about what if this happens or that. I constantly think about the worst case scenario. This is my first child and the thought of the unkown is terrifying. I just feel overwhelmed by the thought and I love to read your straight forward opinions. It makes women like myself not feel as abnormal.

  9. Diana Aug 19 at 9:38 pm Reply Reply

    I have to say I was one of “those stories.” And oddly enough I did the exact same thing. This is my third pregnancy, but I only have one living child: my 17-month-old son. I got pregnant again 10 months ago (Nov. ’07) and read some stories online about women who were as far along as I was at the time and at least 9 of them had lost their babies. I also refused to buy maternity clothes or even tell anyone outside of my household that I was expecting…because I had a feeling of dread. I went for my first ultrasound at 9 weeks 6 days and the tech gently broke the horrible news: my baby’s heart had stopped beating. When the doctor came in to check I told her that I had had a dream in which my baby had died and she asked me when this was. I told her it had been three days ago and she quietly said that was about when my baby passed away. She said on some level I had to have known judging by my dream and my behavior. I, of course, was hysterical and inconsolable. I found some comfort in my family. My husband and I decided that we wanted this baby to have an identity, so we said that the baby was a girl (something I had also dreamed several times) and name her Grace Ann. We bought a pewter angel with her name and the year and hung it in our house so she will always be with us. We celebrated her “birthday” on August 10th. Five days later I got another positive pregnancy test. I am NOT afraid that I will lose this baby which is enormously comforting to me. My point is even if you think you are the kind of person that could not handle the death of your child, you will often surprise yourself. I love my daughter very much and I still miss her, but I also realize that when it’s my time to go, I will be with her in heaven for eternity. In the meantime, I will enjoy my time with the children and rest of my family that are here on earth. Life continues after tragedy and it’s full of happiness and surprises. Sorry this was an unbelievably long comment!

  10. Jennifer Sep 13 at 8:22 pm Reply Reply

    You had a great revelation there. My daughter was born at 25 weeks. She was a micro preemie, and was in the NICU for 10 long weeks. You don’t know what you miss until you actually miss it. I would have loved to be in the shoes of someone who was 38 weeks pregnant just wishing they would give birth already..

  11. Frema Oct 02 at 8:29 am Reply Reply

    I am 21 weeks as of yesterday, but I have been reading “dead baby blogs” almost since I found out I was pregnant with number two.
    Actually, it’s really just one that I’m drawn to, where the author gave birth to a daughter who only lived seven hours after an uneventful pregnancy. She posted pictures of her daughter, and I’ll be damned if she doesn’t look just like my Kara did as a newborn. So I would read this site and see pictures of the baby and then sob at my cubicle and hope nobody would pick that time to ask for something. When I think I’ve toughened up, I visit the blog again, see the baby’s picture, and cry almost immediately.
    And yet…part of me wants you to pass along the links of the blogs you found. Thank you, pregnancy!

  12. Laura Oct 03 at 1:58 pm Reply Reply

    As a mother of a “dead” baby, I do hope everyone heeds your advice. Please be grateful for each kick, bathroom break, hot/cold flash. My daughter was born to early and lived too shortly. It is the most painful, heartbreaking experience. I am 20 weeks with my subsequent pregnancy. It has been an emotional rollercoaster. I refuse to complain and I cherish every pregnancy symptom!

  13. Expecting Two!! Oct 06 at 3:57 pm Reply Reply

    Oh my goodness…I had to skip a lot of what your wrote. I can’t even fathom watching those shows. I turn on an interesting show on Discovery and then *BAM* something horrible happens to a pregnant woman or a baby is diagnosed with some rare and horrible thing. I sing *BLAH BLAH BLAH* as I search for the remote and *Click* “Oh goodie! Seinfield is on again!”
    Congrats on your boy news! I just got news at 19 weeks that I am having TWO boys…identical nonetheless. We are so excited. Medical staff is always amazed to hear that we had no medical help. I am panicking about mixing them up already. As for feeling good…ughhhh! I can’t breathe! These kids are up in ribs for pete’s sake.
    Ok – I am hoping next week’s blog is not so morbid! LOL!

  14. Melanie Dec 11 at 8:20 am Reply Reply

    Last week I had this awful dream that my baby was born deformed. When I told my boyfriend about it, he launched into all the horror stories he knew and warned me that anything can happen. Not exactly what I wanted to hear! I’ve avoided the horror stories like crazy because I will be like you become addicted!
    Anyway, congratulations on your baby boy! Our baby didn’t cooperate at the ultrasound, but we have another on Dec. 22. Hopefully, the baby will cooperate then.

  15. Mayang Feb 04 at 10:02 pm Reply Reply

    hi! i’ll be having my ultrasound tomorrow to find out the baby’s gender, i’m 21 weeks. i have been so excited to find out what we’re having for weeks but lately i’ve become very anxious about tomorrow’s ultrasound, what if they find something wrong with my baby and all that stuff… i know i shouldn’t be thinking that something’s wrong but i just can’t help it and for good reason. last year i got pregnant 3 times lost the first 2 this is the 3rd the farthest i’ve gone so far. after the losses i started reading horrible pregnancy and dead baby stories online which made me more paranoid and worry-freak! my family doctor scolded and told me i shld. stop reading, and so i did which helped me relax about this pregnancy but now that we’re having this ultrasound i’m just scared…

  16. Della Apr 17 at 3:59 pm Reply Reply

    Aha! So it’s not just me! After some friends and some strangers lost babies in the past 2 weeks, I kept running across Those blogs, or across people’s reactions to the recent losses. And I have been unable to resist them.
    I’ve been rushing home to my 14-month-old. I’ve been freaking out about my upcoming midpreg ultrasound because that’s when so many of these women found out there was something wrong. But I can’t seem to stop reading, and it didn’t make sense, because non-pregnant, I would have hot-potatoed the channel or the website just as fast as I could.
    Even during the first pregnancy, I was blissfully unaware of all this heartache. Now that I have one child, I have a more realistic understanding of what it would mean to lose one, even if it’s this little… what are we on now, butternut squash?… who I can’t even apply a name to since I don’t know its sex yet.
    I think, Amy, you hit the nail on the head here and tied it together for me, so other preggies take note: I think I have a deep, deep need to know, to really have it HIT me, that if the worst was to happen, I would live through it. And the thing that really stands out in these blogs, particularly, is the underlined, all-caps revelation that it CAN be survived.

  17. Tawny May 04 at 10:59 am Reply Reply

    It is reassuring to know that it is normal for me to be strangely fixated on the doomsday baby blogs.

  18. Amanda Jul 13 at 2:29 pm Reply Reply

    Okay, so I’m kind of a Weekly Pregnancy Update junky. It’s not even that I rush here every Saturday to see what’s happening THIS week, it’s that I routinely scan ahead to see what’s going to be happening in a week or a month, or two, or whatever. Because it’s helpful, comforting to see what’s supposed to be there.
    I lost my first pregnancy, coming up on 4 years ago. We were 14-15 weeks, and then nothing. I was very young. It was terrible.
    I’m now just 20w2d with my second. We just found out it’s a boy (I had been so sure it was a girl!) and I’m super, super paranoid something is going to go wrong. I want this baby more than anything, and I’ve been doing everything they tell you to do, but still. I’m so scared. Thrilled, but terrified.
    I know that when I hear pregnant women complaining about their condition, I kind of stiffen up. I love every kick (and worry there aren’t enough of them) and look forward to every single new thing, while watching the dead baby shows out of the corner of my eye and crossing my fingers.

  19. cheldi Oct 21 at 3:07 pm Reply Reply

    Not only feeling but seeing the baby’s movement? Not a chance! I still can barely feel it! I’ve had 2 well above average babies before and my 3rd is measuring large already, of course. I’m 21 weeks and am just barely starting to feel anything myself. Definitely only when I’m sitting still and just paying attention and waiting for it. It can’t be felt or seen at all. I think it has something to do with his position though. Feels like what kicks I do feel are towards my back and very low.

  20. Amy M Nov 28 at 3:59 pm Reply Reply

    Cheldi: I’m right there with you. This is the first week I’ve felt the movements strong enough to know they were my little girl. But feel them or see them from the outside world? Not a chance. Much to my husband’s dismay.

  21. Treeling Dec 27 at 11:35 am Reply Reply

    Yeah, I think we have to remember that Amalah is a) having a 2nd baby and b) is clearly on the skinny-pregnant-lady side when comparing our ability to feel movements to hers.
    I can feel my baby now, though it’s very intermittent and just a handful of times, I’ve felt a slight movement from the outside if my hand was in exactly the right the spot. Very, very subtle, though.
    As to the other topic, I’ve been tempted a few times to read about other people’s tragedies but then I’ve had to push them aside. You only need one or two of the stories to make you feel grateful for what you have, imho. And if it took you for-freaking-ever to get pregnant and you were terrified it wouldn’t last anyway *cough*, then you might have been pretty grateful already and already inclined to white-knuckle it at every ultrasound and AFP test. So I was kind of bummed that the comments here turned into a tragedy fest that scared me all over again.
    No one is ever going to find me, so I’m going to be really bold and just say something that has bothered me on many blogs, boards, and random stupid Yahoo! Answers entries: those of us who are infertile (I have been) or who have a tragic loss need to be mindful of time and place when sharing our stories. On a board about loss, or a blog about surviving miscarriage, or a question about what to do when you find out your baby will not survive? Well, then, yes, swoop in with your wisdom and experience! Help someone out! But when you’ve got a herd of excited, hopeful yay-I made it to-21-weekers coming to this blog, it really isn’t kind to terrify them with your terribly sad story of what happened to your baby at 23 weeks when that’s not what this blog is about. Note that Amalah didn’t give specifics, just mentioned the general truth that people lose babies. So, if you have a tragic story, you absolutely are not bound to keep it a secret to protect others and you should definitely talk about it if that helps you work through it. But that story gives you a strange power to terrify and hurt and aggrieve and you have to decide when it is best to deploy that power. And this might not have been the best place to deploy it since the point of the blog entry was that it wasn’t necessarily healthy to read these kinds of stories. You have a right to your grief, but visitors to this particular blog also have a right to a day that is as horror-free as it is possible to have when you are pregnant and constantly worried. Amalah’s blog is not about pregnancy loss, so we shouldn’t have to be afraid to read it– we have What to Expect When You’re Expecting for that.
    So, maybe I’m a horrible person for saying so, but I beg people who have survived a terrible loss to consider the feelings of a pregnant audience the same way that they would consider the feelings of a group of children when telling a sad and frightening story. You can easily ruin their day and give them nightmares and get sympathy in return. But should you?

  22. Danielle Jan 16 at 9:58 am Reply Reply

    Am addicted to Birth Day show – mostly good endings, but harrowing times in between. I feel that if I can understand every possible way that the birth can go down (and all the horrible things that can happen before/during/after) that it will help me cope. (Have been thru 19wk miscarriage, ectopic, and 14wk miscarriage, and have one two yr old.)
    Knowledge is power, right? :)

  23. Cara Feb 13 at 8:54 am Reply Reply

    I’m so glad to hear there are a few who aren’t drawn to the tragic stories. Its not like I avoid them; its that I don’t even THINK of reading or watching them. I’m really glad, too, because I’ve been completely calm throughout this pregnancy and I’d like to keep it that way.
    So – heartburn, anyone? It started last weekend at 19 weeks 1 day and has not let up. No matter what I eat it gives me heartburn. I have to prop myself up to a sitting position to go to sleep. I’m careful to eat right before I take my vitamins and avoid anything slightly acidic (which kills me since I was really loving the OJ before this). Isn’t it way too soon for this? I do think the baby must be having a growth spurt, though. Lots of stretching of the skin and cramps where my hips are spreading. Maybe that’s it?

  24. Shannon Oct 08 at 9:19 am Reply Reply

    Treeling, thank you so much for your comment. I really feel for women who have lost their children (and I know a few people who have suffered through that), however I am VERY anxious person and I avoid those blogs because they upset me too much. My first OB GYN thought it was okay to tell me at my first appointment that 80% of women miscarry within the first 10 weeks. I knew that it is was common (especially the first time around), but that exact figure (even followed by: “But I am not worried about you, you are already so sick!”) made me cry for three days and I was constantly panicking. This blog is usually the highlight of my week, but now I worrying about my next ultrasound, which isn’t for a week. :(

  25. Samantha Apr 03 at 2:33 pm Reply Reply

    The line “If something were to go wrong and these weeks of pregnancy were all I ever got to experience with this child, that wouldn’t make him less real.” is so true. I lost my son last year at 36 weeks and he is still my son even though he never lived outside of me. Thanks :-)

  26. AnnaMarie May 02 at 11:49 pm Reply Reply

    During my first trimester, miscarriage stories were coming out of the woodwork. Most of them were in the first 10 to 12 weeks, and I was assured that the chances of it happening after week 13 were small. The weekend I moved into the second trimester, I thought I could breathe a sigh of relief. Then, a friend told me that her friend had a stillborn birth. Another set of friends miscarried at 16 weeks. Then, I learned a friend who struggled with infertility for years, finally had a child, then promptly got a divorce. I felt so badly for these people, but at the same time, I felt all the wind go out of my sails about my little, now seemingly arbitrary milestone. Apparently, there is no safe period! That is a terrifying thought to ponder for nine months. Unfortunately, it is a reality. It would be nice to be shielded from bad news, but you’d have to live in total isolation under a rock. What I learned from all the miscarriage/stillborn stories is (1) it’s a selfish response to hear someone else’s sad story and immediately make it your own. I should express sympathy for the grieving person, not think, “oh no, what if that happens to me?!” (2) Bad things happen all the time. So, cherish the day. Rejoice like crazy at fuzzy ultrasounds and baby kicks. Enjoy every moment. If tragedy comes, let it take me by surprise, because I’ll be all in every second beforehand. The hope is that you see the miracle in every day until you hold the miracle in your arms and learn it was safe the entire time.

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