Eighteen weeks. My biggest milestone yet. Based off of what we know, my last baby probably didn’t live past seventeen weeks. Though I have yet to reach the gestation that my loss was discovered, I feel like each week, I can breathe a little bit easier.

Rainbow baby outfit - Hannah's Bump Day Blog, Week 18: A Risk Worth Taking

Author’s Personal Collection/Hannah Kirk

I’ll admit, life feels overwhelming at the moment, and not just because of my pregnancy. It’s a strange feeling to be terrified and excited at the same time.

I can imagine that’s what it feels like to skydive or zip line over a canyon. You’d never find me willingly doing anything like that! I much prefer not to take unnecessary risks (and my feet on the ground, for that matter). However, now I find myself right in the middle of a huge risk – pregnancy after loss. Initially, my heart reacted to pregnancy as something dangerous, something with the capability of wrecking me from the inside out. Though that alarm within has somewhat quieted, it still warns me of danger from time to time. That’s where triggers come in. A lot of things have caused a fear response in me lately – songs, tv shows, smells. Most of the time, I can brush it off and move on.

I never could have prepared for the trigger that almost got me this past week.

I was at Panera getting lunch with my two-year-old. As I was scrolling through the menu on the kiosk, I came across a chicken sandwich. Normally that would not be anything memorable. However, the first time I ate at a Panera was during my last pregnancy, at a hospital of all places, and that’s what I had ordered. Looking back, that was probably the last week of that pregnancy that I enjoyed before everything started to go wrong.

For some reason, my body responded to this sandwich as if it were a threat. My chest tightened, and it felt hard to breathe. I quickly exited that section of the menu and calmed myself down. Of all things to nearly cause a panic attack, I never thought a chicken sandwich would be what set me off. That’s the thing with triggers. Some you can prepare for and avoid. Others hit you when you least expect it. In pregnancy after loss it’s nearly impossible to avoid triggers. There’s always something to remind you of past dangers – or what your mind perceives to be dangerous. Doctor appointments, ultrasounds, heartbeat checks, kick counts – all things that used to be exciting for me are now tainted with what-ifs.

When I went to the doctor last week for my seventeen-week appointment, I was on edge.

It was at seventeen weeks that I got news that started to make me feel uneasy about my last pregnancy. Even though I had just heard this baby’s heartbeat the week before and had felt plenty of movement since, I was anxious to confirm that everything still sounded like it should. It took the doctor a few seconds to find the heartbeat. That wait is always torture, but once again, that beautiful sound broke through. It seemed strong and healthy to me, and the doppler confirmed that our little one had a good heart rate. I left the doctor’s office and bought clothes for my baby. A stark contrast to just seven months ago when I went home and cried after a different seventeen-week appointment.

This pregnancy has already been different in so many ways.

As I enter these last two weeks before I officially pass my loss gestation, I know that I still have a lot to overcome. Though I’ve carried a healthy baby to term before, this second half of pregnancy feels like uncharted territory. I’m hopeful that at the end of all of this, I’ll hold a healthy, breathing baby in my arms. My goal now is to try my hardest to cherish the time I have with this little one in my womb. I want to allow myself to be excited even if I’m just as equally terrified. Though I’m not one for taking chances, I have to admit that for me, pregnancy after loss is a risk worth taking.

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