Four weeks was the longest I have ever gone without having an appointment to check on this baby. Now that I am past the first trimester, my doctor has taken me off of the frequent-check schedule I was used to with IVF. With nothing needing to be checked in those four weeks, I waited and wondered: Is he growing as much as the apps say he is? Is his heart still beating? Would I feel different if something was wrong? Thankfully, the worries were not the constant-fear I felt in early pregnancy. Instead, they were mostly passing thoughts my brain seemed to trip over when I woke up to go to the bathroom at night.

The worries especially came up as others around me experienced different kinds of grief of their own.

One of the communities I draw a huge amount of strength from, an online group for LGBTQ+ parents and parents-to-be, has been in a season of loss lately. During my four-week wait for my next OB appointment, multiple members of this community lost pets, lost family members, and experienced a first or second miscarriage. It seemed to come in a wave, and it was surprising since the community’s membership is fairly small to be having so many tragedies all at once. My natural desire was to offer support by sharing how I have coped with grief, but at times I found others’ grief triggered my own worries about my current pregnancy, and I needed to step away. I craved reassurance about my own pregnancy, but after our unsuccessful attempt to use the home doppler last week, all I could do was wait for our next appointment.

Finally, at the end of Week 16, it was time.

I knew we would not be having an ultrasound, but the doctor would instead search for the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler. Somehow I felt both 100% sure that the baby was completely fine and also terrified of what we would learn.

“It might take me a little while to find your baby’s heartbeat,” the doctor cautioned before he turned on the doppler. “I’m looking for a heart the size of a BB!”

I nodded and laid back, trying to quiet my mind as the doctor put the gel on my belly. He picked an initial spot to start below my belly button, and I immediately heard the distinctive “galloping horses” heartbeat sound–was that my own heartbeat? “That’s your baby,” the doctor said, surprised at how easily we had found it. Within a few seconds, the baby had rolled away from the doppler, but it was plenty of time for the doctor to tell that the heartbeat was within normal range. I was flooded with feelings of reassurance.

Sonoline B doppler - Alli's Bump Day Blog, Week 16: Reassurance

Author’s Personal Collection/Alli Baker

After K and I got home from the appointment, I asked if she wanted to try the home doppler again to see if we could find the baby in the same spot where the doctor found it.

We each gave it a couple of unsuccessful tries, and as I tried one last time–there it was! Too fast to be my own heartbeat, we had found the baby’s heartbeat exactly where it was when the doctor found it earlier! I was giddy when the baby stayed still this time, and we were able to capture the sound of his heartbeat on video. The happiness of lying and listening to his heartbeat as long as I wanted to was unlike anything I have experienced so far in pregnancy. He feels more and more like a real person to me every day. That little heartbeat is the best reassurance I could ask for–and now we wait until I can feel movement, too!

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