We are 25% of the way through this pregnancy and our little jelly bean is alive and well! I had a lot of doubts and anxiety over the last week but was able to finally get some reassurance this week.

Emma's 10-week bump with ultrasound image: Remembrance and Reassurance

Author’s Personal Collection/Emma DeVanzo

Last Saturday was Austin’s 1st heavenly birthday.

I have spent a lot of time over the last year finding ways to honor his short life, and his birthday was no different. I struggled with Austin’s birthday a lot because all I could think was, “I should be planning a real first birthday party,” and, “He should be here right now.” I have also spent some time reflecting on the last several days of his life – the early days of the pandemic filled with uncertainty, fear, and homemade masks – and couldn’t help but think of my current pregnancy. How is our little one doing? Are they growing? Do they still have a heartbeat?

Being so early in this pregnancy, there are no kicks or definitive signs that everything is okay. Most days, I find reassurance by reframing that same thought – there are no signs that anything is wrong so I choose to believe that my baby is alive and growing. In the week leading into Austin’s birthday, these reassuring thoughts weren’t enough. It had been almost four weeks since the viability ultrasound and three weeks until my first official appointment with my midwife. The anxiety of history repeating itself and thoughts of my baby already not having a heartbeat and me not knowing for another three weeks began to overwhelm me.

Rather than let my thoughts and anxiety consume me, I decided to advocate for myself.

I reached out to my midwife to explore my options and she ordered another ultrasound. I immediately felt a weight lift off my shoulders. No matter what the scan confirmed, I was glad that I would have answers soon. I called the testing center and scheduled the ultrasound for their earliest available appointment, which was a full week away. Despite the wait, it was still shorter than the three weeks to my next appointment. I would have answers soon.

Austin’s birthday was peaceful. My husband and I decided to keep to ourselves that day. We wanted to be free to grieve whenever and however we wanted to without feeling obligated to host visitors. We lit a floating candle that burned all day in remembrance. We started some vegetables in our garden, Austin’s garden. We held each other and cried. We watched the clock, remembering what was happening just one year prior. I painted a picture of an angel holding a baby, thinking of all our family members who are taking care of Austin until we meet him again. And I wrote a letter to Austin – sitting in the nursery we prepared for him, holding our Austin bear, wrapped in a blanket made for him.

Angel Painting Emma made for Austin's 1st Birthday

Author’s Personal Collection/Emma DeVanzo

The few remaining days leading up to the ultrasound seemed never-ending. I tried to remain as positive as I could, but part of me was also preparing for heartbreak. The pregnancy after loss journey is not an easy one. We all know too well what could happen. As I entered the 10th week and prepared for my afternoon ultrasound, my anxiety was all-consuming. My husband was convinced everything was fine, but I was bracing for bad news. Although his optimism felt a bit naïve, I was thankful that we both weren’t consumed with fear and doubt. The hours ticked away and finally, it was time.

Tears ran down my face as we saw our baby and that little flicker of their heart.

We asked to listen to their strong heartbeat a second time – music to our ears. Baby was measuring perfectly based on their gestational age. We felt so much relief. We had made it to 10 weeks. We didn’t have to tell our close network of friends and family any bad news. Instead, we proudly shared the ultrasound picture with them.

Little one, we can’t wait to meet you. I promise to keep advocating for myself and for you. We will get through this together.

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