Twenty weeks. I feel humbled to be here again (and maybe a little afraid). My pregnancy with my last baby ended at twenty weeks and three days. That’s all the time I had to carry him. I went home that evening with an empty womb and empty arms. Oh, the heartache I felt in those early days. My very existence ached for my baby. I was numb, angry, empty, and so deeply sorrowful. Though I never fully lost sight of the light, those were still very dark days.

I realize this is supposed to be about my current pregnancy and not my loss, but the two are so intimately connected. This week is so monumental for me. This week my heart aches and rejoices. In a way, passing this gestation feels like saying goodbye. There are no more comparisons between my pregnancies with these two babies. The baby growing inside of me right now has already lived longer than my last baby, Koda, ever did here on earth. I’m so thankful to have made it this far, and I also feel that it has uncovered a new layer of grief.

Hannah Kirk at 20 weeks pregnant - Uncharted Territory

Author’s Personal Collection/Hannah Kirka

Here I am, twenty weeks again, and this time my womb is carrying life.

As I write this, I feel my baby moving within. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I have been anxiously awaiting this day. Trust me, I know that passing my loss gestation does not mean that I have any sort of guarantee. I just feel that my heart needed to get here. Until recently, I hadn’t allowed myself to make plans for this pregnancy past twenty weeks. I just couldn’t look that far ahead. It hit me about two weeks ago that I had to start putting some things into action. Because of our recent move, my anatomy scan got delayed, and I had to find a new doctor. I have been so anxious about it all, but I finally have that first appointment scheduled.

I don’t think I would be able to handle the wait as well if I wasn’t feeling the baby move. That has brought me comfort while in between appointments. Every morning, right after I wake up, I roll onto my back and wait for those little kicks. I usually feel at least one or two pretty quickly. Then I breathe a sigh of relief, smile, and tell my little one good morning. In my opinion, baby kicks are the best part of pregnancy. They have always been so special to me. However, I’ve never appreciated them as much as I do now. After loss, baby kicks aren’t just sweet bonding moments, they’re hope-giving signs of life. They reassure me that in this moment, everything is ok.

I’ve been through half of two separate pregnancies in just one calendar year.

It’s hard to believe that my body has endured forty weeks of pregnancy, and I still don’t have a baby in my arms. I’ve been in survival mode these past twenty weeks. Despite that, or maybe because of it, I feel like they went by much faster than I expected. I’m not so sure this second half will feel the same way. I haven’t allowed myself to think this far ahead. Now I feel unprepared and unsure of my next steps. It’s been three years since the last time I made it farther than twenty weeks gestation. Since then, my entire outlook on pregnancy has changed. Not to mention, this time I have a new doctor that I have yet to meet, and I’m living in a state that, just two weeks ago, I’d never stepped foot in. Everything ahead of me feels like uncharted territory right now. However, my confidence has never come from knowing what was going to happen. At one time, these past twenty weeks were just as much of a mystery to me as the next twenty are right now. Despite my fears and doubts, we made it this far. I hope, pray, and believe that this next half will end with a healthy, living baby in my arms.

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