Featured images photo credit: EAM Photography
Make sure you’ve read part three of the story here before reading on.
Before you read any further, know these things:
- This is MY experience. I’m not here to compare myself to anyone else or weigh my hard against yours. I have a new understanding for difficult, high risk pregnancies and loss during pregnancy, but know that my difficult and my loss might not be the same as someone else’s. That doesn’t negate anyone’s experience!
- I don’t necessarily endorse every single tip or belief in the resources I’ve linked, but I still think they’re really great resources worth sharing.
- TRIGGER WARNING: body image, weight loss/gain
- I’m still learning! I might get some things wrong entirely here, or what worked for me might be wrong for you. Please give me grace and know I’m not writing to claim I know anything about babies or parenting. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned through my own pregnancy journey — I named my blog “Lessons Learned & Life Loved” for a reason. As I’ve already mentioned, every pregnancy is different, and one of the biggest things I’ve learned is there’s no such thing as a “normal” pregnancy.
- Expressing my honest dislike for and difficulties with pregnancy in NO way relates to my love for my daughter. More women SHOULD feel empowered to talk about the less-than-beautiful, downright awful parts of pregnancy. As always, I feel called to write about this, and if something I write in this specific post helps just one person, then it’s all worth it. If this post isn’t for you, move on.
Month 5: joy, puke, excitement
I threw up the first morning of this month. Figuring out when and how much to eat, all while taking a billion pills and supplements, was HARD. Notably, I also threw up in a parking garage one afternoon as well as all over the kitchen table on the morning of my 27th birthday just as I had finished eating breakfast.
Though my clothes had been fitting differently for a while, I also really started to become aware of my body. My bump was really small, so small that I think people who didn’t know I was pregnant would probably just think I gained a little weight. In fact, I remember feeling good about myself when one of my former students told me his mom saw me early on in my pregnancy and said I was so skinny. I’ve been gaining weight appropriately this whole pregnancy, but that thought just speaks to the hard truth that our culture has so distorted my view of my body. I also started waking up super congested, which wasn’t very fun either.
In week 16, we had our first anatomy scan at the high risk doctor. We were told it was possible to find out the gender, but the baby was still so small at that point that it could be difficult to tell. At the start of this series and in the title of this post, I’ve already mentioned the gender because I wrote four of the five posts after-the-fact. For the sake of the story, here’s everything we were feeling and thinking leading up to the moment we found out:
- My husband DESPERATELY wanted a girl. Maybe it’s because he was already a girl dad to two fur babies, but in his heart, he needed this baby to be a girl. I was fearful he would genuinely be disappointed if we were having a boy!
- The baby names we always liked were girl names. We had a girl name we really loved since college, but when we actually found out we were pregnant, we didn’t love it anymore.
- In February, my husband had come home from work one day with a gender neutral name suggestion that was the first we both actually liked during this pregnancy. The name convinced us to start brainstorming names that start with the letter E and were two or more syllables; he and I both come from families with siblings that all start with the same letter, and with our one syllable, basic last name, we thought that multiple syllables just sounded better.
- On Valentine’s Day, I saw an Instagram ad for a swaddle with a different spelling but same name as the one we both liked. That was the calm before the storm (literally a day before we found out we failed the first NIPT and the start of what we didn’t know would be our last week with Sadie), so I took that as a sign that we are having a girl and that would be her name. HOWEVER, until that point, I really thought we’d have a boy just because my husband wanted a girl so bad.
- When we went to the CVS MinuteClinic, they asked us what pharmacy we prefer. I only knew the name of one of the streets it was on, but to confirm, the lady said the name of the street running perpendicular, WHICH JUST SO HAPPENED TO BE THE NAME. This is the same Walgreens where I bought the pregnancy test by myself in December too!
And then, on March 15, we found out our baby is a girl. I wanted to cry when we found out, but I held it in. Finally, some joy, some good news. My mother in law made a comment that up until that point in our pregnancy, there really hadn’t been joy, and she wasn’t wrong. I think we also would’ve been joyful if we were having a boy, but goodness, it was just nice to finally know something. As previously mentioned, we’re not social media people. We never did a pregnancy announcement there, and we didn’t do a gender reveal either. Our motto throughout this pregnancy has been if we love you and you’re important to us, we’ve personally shared information and photos with you.
At that same appointment, we also found out our baby had an echogenic intracardiac focus in her heart, which is one of 11 soft markers for Downs Syndrome. On an ultrasound, this shows up as a little flicker of light. Had there been no other previous complications or findings, this wouldn’t mean anything; however, she also had an echogenic bowel. What this meant for us was more monitoring and more high risk appointments, even though there was a 90% chance everything was fine.
The more we thought about it, the more we knew that just like her angel puppy sister, our daughter has a special heart. In fact, maybe that flicker of light in her heart is Sadie. I started feeling, too, that just like we loved Sadie because of everything that made her special, we’re going to love our daughter the same. At this particular appointment, I finally let myself love the baby growing inside of me. It’s not that I didn’t love her before, it was just different.
After that appointment, we got even more confirmation about our daughter’s name. We always knew her middle name would be mine, Lynn, because that’s also my mom’s and my mother in law’s. Over our spring break, I read the book It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover, and THE NAME HAPPENED TO BE IN THE BOOK. It’s a unique name, but not uncommon. We also realized the name has a connection to a famous American poet, and that seemed fitting since my husband and I were both English majors. If you’ve read this far and don’t already know her name because we told you, comment below your guess.
At this time, I was more confident in her name than my husband, but we were both still hesitant to share it for fear of seeing her face when she’s born and thinking that the name doesn’t suit her. My mom quickly guessed it, and so did close friends to whom we gave clues. Out of all the teachers in our family, my mom was the only one who had a former student with the name, and luckily, she was a good one. We began calling her by name at home, and it just felt right. It also became important to use for all of our prayer warriors to be able to pray for our baby girl by name as we navigated the uncertainty and stress of being a high risk pregnancy.
Month 6: love, change, growth
This month, my OBGYN finally suggested I try taking Unisom and B-6 before bed for my morning sickness, and the very next day, I actually felt hungry for the first time my entire pregnancy. Every day up until that point, I had to force myself to eat anything. My bump also finally became noticeable. The hardest part of this month, though, was still having to navigate all of the “less-than-normal” findings at the high risk doctor. My husband really started to feel the weight of it all, admitting to me one day that he was just sad.
I have an anterior placenta, and at the 20-week ultrasound, we got more confirmation that the baby is a girl, but that’s about it. He no longer saw the “flickers” in her heart or bowels, which was good news, but that didn’t necessarily mean everything was as it should be given our history. Her face was always buried in my placenta, so that was disappointing, but her growth was on track, so that was a positive.
We love our high risk doctor and are grateful for all of the opportunities to see our baby girl, but insurance doesn’t completely cover it, and at this point, I wasn’t sure why we’re going other than as a precaution. I believe we could’ve opted out if we wanted to, but I also think given everything that has happened, we’d rather be safe than sorry.
Here’s my unsolicited advice: DO NOT do an NIPT test if all you want to know is the baby’s gender early. There are plenty of other genetic reasons parents might have for wanting to do an NIPT test; however, if you’re like me and my husband and just want to know the baby’s gender two months early, it’s NOT worth the heartache and anxiety of possibly getting “no results.” I’ve learned that only 1% of moms who do the NIPT test get that result, so it’s a slim chance you’ll end up like me, but still, take my advice and just be patient for your 20-week anatomy scan. We would have saved ourselves so much money and heartache had we just been patient.
I think I felt her moving for the first time Mother’s Day weekend, but my husband couldn’t feel anything yet. My work family threw the sweetest shower on May 6, the same day I got to walk at the commencement ceremony for earning my masters degree in applied communication. We also announced the baby’s name that day, and that weekend, I realized that I couldn’t hide my pregnancy from social media since I was showing. It’s one thing if I decide not to post personal details about my pregnancy or my baby, but it’s another thing entirely to expect that none of our friends and family will post a picture that includes pregnant me in it.
Towards the end of the second trimester, though he might argue with you, my husband could see little movements across my belly for the first time. It took a while for him to feel her, likely due to my anterior placenta, and of course, she’s not the most cooperative little girl and usually won’t move when her daddy or a grandparent wants to feel her.
The school year ended for us just days before the start of the third trimester, which was one of the biggest blessings of the whole pregnancy.
Read the next part of the story here.