Another week here and gone and Jelly Bean is still hanging out inside. As the days went by over the last week, I shifted from thinking labor was imminent to thinking it might be another 2 weeks until we meet them. Thankfully, my anxiety seems to be in check for the time being, so I am okay waiting a little longer.

My weeks are filled with so many appointments now.

We met with one of our doulas for our prenatal visit where we talked about our preferences for birth, what comfort measures I might like, and any questions or concerns we had regarding labor, postpartum and newborn care, breastfeeding or anything. We have been working with our doula team L and J for almost 2 years now, and it will be great to bring our journey full circle with them. They were there supporting us on the worst day of our lives when we lost Austin and will be there as we transform our family again.

Emma's 38-week bump: All Eyes on Jelly Bean

Author’s Personal Collection/Emma DeVanzo

At the prenatal appointment with our midwife K, we learned that I am already 2 centimeters dilated; a nice bonus of what won’t need to be completed during labor. Jelly Bean passed the NST again with flying colors and the ultrasound showed they are about 7 pounds and growing on track. And my twice-weekly chiropractic appointments are helping with all of my aches and pains in my hips and ribs. All of these appointments mean there are plenty of eyes on me and Jelly Bean and everyone has the same goal – to keep us both healthy and safe during and after pregnancy.

In addition to all of the appointments concerning my physical health, I also had my first therapy session since July as a final mental prep for labor.

The second half of this pregnancy has been rather surprising from a mental standpoint. Since we lost Austin during the 39th week, I expected my anxiety to increase as we got closer to the end but that hasn’t been the case. I even pushed back my therapy session twice because I felt confident navigating my emotional ups and downs on my own.

I shared with N how strange it felt to not really have any anxieties at this point in my pregnancy because it is the exact opposite of what I expected to feel at this stage. I have this calmness in my mind where nothing really bothers me. I’ve done all of the preparations I possibly can and have built a network of providers around me to make sure nothing of potential concern is missed. And I don’t spend much time thinking or worrying about labor; I know the mechanics of it and have my previous experience with Austin’s birth and am taking the approach that it will be what it will be and no amount of thinking about all the different scenarios will change that. Instead, I am focused on the right now, solely focused on ensuring there are no changes in Jelly Bean’s movements.

N validated all of my thoughts and feelings, which she always does in such an eloquent manner. By grounding myself in the present, I am actually having a healthy response to my situation based on my history. If I were focusing on all the possibilities of what could happen, that would actually be my anxiety popping up, even if that wasn’t my intent. Pregnancy after loss is so hard and every emotion is valid. As bereaved parents, we have done the hardest thing a parent ever has to do – lose a child. Be kind to yourself, no matter where you are at in your PAL journey.

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