Week 12 has been fairly uneventful so far. I can’t believe I am almost at the end of the first trimester – when did that happen? Though I still check just to be sure, I have noticed that the fear of seeing blood when I go to the bathroom has significantly subsided. Work has been consuming most of my time as it always does at this time of the month. Despite the workload, it has been a nice distraction to preoccupy my mind from my anxieties and the many food aversions I have developed recently – of course, nothing is appealing when I need to be filling my body with nutritious meals! I am starting to find food combinations that are more appealing, so hopefully, the aversions subside soon.

Emma's 12-week bump: reassurance in our provider choice

Author’s Personal Collection/Emma DeVanzo

A few days ago, we were able to go in for our first midwife office visit with K which was exciting.

After reviewing my medical history and taking blood for the typical screenings, K got the doppler out. I warned my husband on the way to her office that there was a chance that we wouldn’t be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat today because they are so tiny, and K said the same to us as she applied the jelly. She explained that the baby’s heart is about the size of a grain of rice at our current gestation. This combined with how much they can move around reduces the chances of hearing the heartbeat.

I held my breath as she moved the wand over my belly. We heard it for a brief second, and then lost it. Baby was hiding but K kept searching and eventually found a beautiful, strong heartbeat. Even though I was prepared for the possibility of not hearing it, I am so thankful she kept trying until she found the heartbeat. My wave of positivity from the last ultrasound was waning, but this gave it an extra boost. I could breathe again. As far as we knew, everything was good and the baby was healthy, safe, and alive. We rattled off all of our questions to her, scheduled our next appointment in four weeks, and went on our way.

This was the third time we had met K in person, and she was just as wonderful as I remember.

The first time we met was under much different circumstances. It was the end of March 2020 and I was 37.5 weeks pregnant with Austin. Every day brought something new thanks to COVID – working from home, changes to the prenatal visit schedule, PPE and cleaning supply shortages, restaurant closures, rise in unemployment, increased hospitalizations and deaths. I wanted to do as much as I could to keep myself and Austin safe. I was worried about what would happen if I got sick. Outside of that, I didn’t think it would change the overall birth plan – deliver at the hospital with one of our OB’s with as little medication as I could.

And then the news stories started coming out of New York City. Some hospitals were not going to allow partners in the delivery room with the birthing woman. I started to freak out. We are only a few hours away from NYC and were still several weeks away from my due date. What if that policy spread to our area? The hospitals were already restricting doula access, and I was not prepared to go in completely alone. I needed my husband. He needed to be there for the birth of our first child. I can draw so much strength from him and there was no way I wanted to go through labor and delivery without him.

Our team of doulas had both had home births and my husband and I had started to think about it as a possibility for future children.

Until COVID changed the rules, we hadn’t considered changing providers so late in the pregnancy. We listed out all the pros and cons and decided to reach out to K for a home birth. She agreed to take us as a client and come out for our first appointment/home visit. Everything went well and we didn’t feel rushed like in the typical OB office environment. We were excited to work with her. Unfortunately, there were circumstances outside of all of our control (not Austin’s passing) that prevented us from continuing as clients, so we stuck with the original plan.

Fast forward two months and we had our second meeting with K. We had lost Austin and everything had changed. Our follow up appointment with the OB that delivered Austin was fine, but we still had so many questions and not many answers. K spent a full hour with us, allowing us to share all of our theories of what might have gone wrong and listen to her perspective. Though we still didn’t have all the answers, we felt supported and heard.

Having the right medical provider is so important, especially in pregnancy after loss.

At the beginning of this pregnancy, I wasn’t sure what kind of care I wanted. I knew I wanted to have plenty of monitoring, especially in the third trimester. I wanted it to be easy to reach my provider in case I had questions or an urgent concern. I wanted to feel supported, heard, and safe. I knew I wanted K on my team because of our prior interactions, but I was considering dual care with my former OB team. Maybe if I had more providers, they would be more likely to catch anything that might be wrong in this pregnancy to prevent another loss.

But I still haven’t called the OB office. K has supported me at every stage in this pregnancy so far, and I don’t feel like anything is missing from my care. If anything, the opposite is true. I know she will listen to my concerns and do everything within her power to help me have a healthy pregnancy and birth. I feel confident in my choice of provider and can’t thank her enough for all that she has done and will do for us.

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