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Pregnancy Calendar

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cute illustration of a fetus' profile sucking its thumb

Week 21

Your 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.)


  • 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.


Related post: Pregnancy and COVID-19: What We Know (& a Few Things We Don’t)

Here’s a complete online version of our Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist and here’s the downloadable & printable version of our Baby Registry Checklist in case you’re going to the store or want to save it for later or share it.

If you’re considering an online baby registry, we recommend our affiliate Amazon’s Baby Registry, which offers free 90-day returns on baby store purchases. You can even add items from other websites onto to your baby registry.

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About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


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 ...

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 [email protected].

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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About the Author

Our Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty, was written by Amy Corbett Storch while she was pregnant with her second son, Ezra.

Amy, also known as Amalah, writes the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back here at Alpha Mom. You can follow her daily mothering adventures at her own site, Amalah.

About the Illustrations

The Zero to Forty illustrations were created by the artist Brenda Ponnay, aka Secret Agent Josephine. Brenda is very talented and these images are copyright-protected. You should hire her if you want your own unique ones.