I miscarried during my first pregnancy at 16 weeks pregnant. That sentence is surprisingly easy for me to say now – much easier than it was for me to tell people, that first time, that I was pregnant.
Every time I told someone I was pregnant, I’d immediately burst into tears. I thought it was hormones – it had to be – because nothing felt right. People would ask me if I was excited, and I would falter. They’d ask me if I thought about names, and I could honestly say I hadn’t. I couldn’t wrap my brain around it that time.
As I grew, I felt like a stranger in my own body. I was standing in the dressing room, shopping for maternity clothes with my mother around thirteen weeks, and stood, gaping at myself, in front of the mirror. My mom called to me from outside the door, wondering how I thought the dress I was trying on looked. I couldn’t answer. I just stared at the body in the mirror, wondering if that could really be me.
Nothing really made sense that pregnancy. I didn’t have any symptoms. My uterus and belly never hardened. I gained a good amount of weight immediately – fifteen pounds before I’d even hit fifteen weeks. I broke out immediately, without relief, and everywhere – face, back, chest. But at my fifteen week checkup, my doctor and I chatted calmly about these things. No one else seemed overly alarmed by them.
As I grew, I felt like a stranger in my own body.
Looking back now, I think my pregnancy felt strange to me because it wasn’t meant to be. A week after that fifteen week checkup – at sixteen weeks – I called the office for the results on the AFP screening I had decided to have. I left a message for the nurse, then received a frantic message back, asking me to call the office immediately. Those next 48 hours were a whirlwind. I went from shopping for daycares and trying desperately to think of a name I could picture myself calling a baby I still couldn’t wrap my head around to meeting with doctor after doctor, prepping for my D&C surgery. On my thirtieth birthday, at seven in the morning, I was no longer pregnant.
I didn’t get pregnant for a while after that. I felt like I was having one continuous out-of-body experience. For the first time, I felt like a stranger in my own skin. I knew it had done what it needed to do, that it had tried its best to care for that child and make that pregnancy work, but I didn’t know how to be at home in my own body anymore. My legs, my stomach, my weight – nothing felt like it had before. So I tried my best to get back into me. I spent a long time listening to my body, trying to figure out what it needed from me, and trying to get it know it again.
After almost a year, I finally felt…normal. Like me. Like I could trust the body standing firmly underneath me to hold me up through anything. I looked at my husband, that rock who had held my hand every day and told me if I was okay, he was okay, and I told him I was ready to try again.
So here we are now, in my second pregnancy. I’m sixteen weeks this week. I’ve had symptoms – the swollen breasts, some nausea, a growing and hardening uterus and belly, aches and pains. I find myself resting my hand on my stomach, just to let that baby know I’m here. I sing extra loudly in the car, just in case that baby is listening to my (awful) voice (he should know what he’s in for). I hung curtains in what will be the baby’s room the other day. And I looked at myself today in the mirror and thought, my goodness, you look pregnant!
I have an appointment on Thursday, just a checkup. My doctor said I can come in whenever I’d like, just to hear the heartbeat. But I don’t feel like I need to do that. Because this time, I don’t cry when I tell people I’m pregnant, I smile. This time, I don’t wonder if that baby we keep talking about will ever be in our arms. This time, I’m excited to meet him. Or her.
I can’t explain it, but this time is different.
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