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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.)

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.

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.

Amazon Baby Registry 1

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

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.

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Comments

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Sarah
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Sarah

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

psumommy
Guest
psumommy

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… Read more »

erin
Guest
erin

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!

Marcoda
Guest

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? 🙂

Beth
Guest
Beth

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.

Tiffany
Guest
Tiffany

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.

Robyn
Guest
Robyn

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… Read more »

Ashlee
Guest
Ashlee

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.

Diana
Guest
Diana

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… Read more »

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

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..

Frema
Guest

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… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

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!

Expecting Two!!
Guest
Expecting Two!!

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… Read more »

Melanie
Guest
Melanie

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.

Mayang
Guest

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… Read more »

Della
Guest
Della

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.… Read more »

Tawny
Guest
Tawny

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

Amanda
Guest
Amanda

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… Read more »

cheldi
Guest
cheldi

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.

Amy M
Guest
Amy M

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.

Treeling
Guest
Treeling

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… Read more »

Danielle
Guest
Danielle

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? 🙂

Cara
Guest

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… Read more »

Shannon
Guest
Shannon

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… Read more »

Samantha
Guest
Samantha

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 🙂

Isabel Kallman
Admin

I am very sorry for your loss.

AnnaMarie
Guest
AnnaMarie

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… Read more »

Sheryl
Guest
Sheryl

Before getting pregnant, miscarriage and other tragic “dead baby” stories never really crossed my path. I had one friend who miscarried years ago but she felt no need to go into great detail and I offered her my sympathy and support as best I could. So I don’t think the response “Oh no, it could happen to me” is selfish in response to these tales because, usually, the teller who accosts you with them is not seeking sympathy and support but telling because you are pregnant and they want you to be anxious and worried it could happen to you.… Read more »