This week, I had my appointment with the maternal fetal medicine specialist. Seeing an MFM is something I thought about earlier on in this pregnancy. Because I had to change providers a few times due to our move, I never pursued it. Leading up to the appointment, my feelings were mixed. Part of me was looking forward to extra reassurance here at the end of my pregnancy. Another part of me was so scared of receiving bad new after we’d made it this far. Yet another part of me felt like I had no business seeing an MFM because this pregnancy has been uncomplicated, and I only had one loss prior. However, I have had a few doctors validate the fact that I have every right to pursue extra testing. My loss happened in the second trimester and remains unexplained. Entering this pregnancy having no idea why my last baby died was terrifying.

Ultrasound images with a rainbow, pacifier and stuffed animal - Hannah's Bump Day Blog, Week 34: Validation

Author’s Personal Collection/Hannah Kirk

While I do wish I could have had this extra monitoring from the start, I’m thankful to have providers who take me seriously.

Some have seemingly shrugged off my loss as if to say, “sometimes these things happen.” Others have talked to me as if my pregnancy is super low risk (one even told me so). All I could think was, how can you say that when we don’t even know why my last baby died? I don’t have ill feelings towards anyone. Each provider has honored my requests and made sure I was taken care of. However, certain ones have gone out of their way to make me feel more comfortable. Some offered reassuring suggestions before I even asked. Those providers have been the ones that have made things easier on me instead of raising more questions.

My appointment was on a Monday. I somehow managed to forget about it over the weekend, but when Monday morning came, I felt sick to my stomach. The baby was moving plenty on my drive to the doctor’s office. Still, when I walked into the ultrasound room, my stomach was in knots. They quickly began the scan. The ultrasound tech talked me through it by explaining what she was looking at. I absolutely loved that! Still, I was far from relaxed at first. Having never had an MFM ultrasound before, I didn’t know what to expect. It was a little intimidating initially.

There were two ultrasound techs in the room – one performing the ultrasound and the other writing things down. At first, it made me incredibly nervous how intently they were looking at everything on the screen. I studied the ultrasound tech’s face for any sign that something might be wrong and was always relieved whenever she smiled or moved on. I started to relax after seeing the baby’s heart beating. They even showed me that his diaphragm was moving as he was taking practice breaths. The baby was relatively still for the first part of the ultrasound. I thought that was unusual, however, he more than made up for it at the end. He must have just needed some time to wake up. Once he did, he didn’t make it easy on the ultrasound techs to get the images they needed!

No matter how much time has passed, how many milestones we reach, or how much movement I’ve felt, I still find myself incredibly nervous with every single ultrasound.

Even though I have been in several different ultrasound rooms this pregnancy, every time I find them very triggering emotionally. I don’t think I’ve gotten through a single scan without tears – either out of fear, happiness, or sadness. I cherish every glimpse of my baby. I’m also always glad whenever the ultrasound is over, and I get to walk away with good news and new pictures of my son.

I’m thankful to report that this was another time of walking away with good news. The baby looked great on ultrasound. Everything is developing and functioning as it should. He’s growing right on track and still very active. Talking with the MFM specialist reassured me even further. He didn’t invalidate my fears because we saw a healthy baby on the screen. He actually recommended weekly ultrasounds and non-stress tests starting at thirty-six weeks just to be safe. For the first time since our move, I feel like the providers around me are on my side when it comes to not taking chances. It’s been frustrating to be treated like this is just another pregnancy. Granted, I have not fought for extra monitoring. However, I also didn’t realize that it was available to me. I thought maybe I didn’t qualify and was nervous to ask. I’m usually pretty good about advocating for myself, but I’ve found that much harder to do this time. It’s difficult to think past the moment I’m in whenever I feel like I’m holding my breath until I walk out of the doctor’s office with a healthy baby still in my womb. I’m thankful for providers who have taken the initiative at a time when I have struggled to.

It’s still hard to believe how close we are to the end.

I’ve found myself feeling a little sad that this pregnancy will be coming to an end soon. Though I have appreciated every moment I’ve carried this baby in my womb, I haven’t enjoyed it like I wish I could have. I have spent more time apprehensive than excited. While I think that’s absolutely fair for anyone going through pregnancy after loss, it’s still sad to close this chapter, knowing that I didn’t get to celebrate this pregnancy like I wanted to. I’m hopeful that soon we’ll have a healthy baby in our arms, and we can finally breathe a little easier as we make up for lost time.

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