A week with no major updates or insights from me. I can’t quite believe I’m 19 weeks; it’s gone surprisingly fast, but the next few months seem to be stretching out further than I can think about.

"D" necklace for Dotty - Issy's Bump Day Blog, Week 19: Just Getting Through

Author’s Personal Collection/Issy Jorden

I had my first proper panic this week.

I’ve been feeling small movements on and off for a few weeks, but they seemed to be getting stronger and more frequent… until they stopped. For a couple of days, I felt virtually nothing, except the smallest things that could have been gas or muscle twitches. I had just recently seen my midwife, who listened to the heartbeat, and I was reluctant to ask her to come out again when I knew that the baby was still so small that irregular movements were completely expected. I did some Googling (obviously) and found similar worries on online forums, and everything had been fine. And now the little kicks and wiggles are back. But it makes me dread what’s to come in later weeks. Monitoring movements, learning a pattern, knowing when to go and get checked. I have a deep fear that I will have to somehow save this baby by catching the moment things go wrong and getting to hospital in time.

This weekend we attended a family wedding, where I knew very few people but my husband saw lots of old family friends.

The kinds of people who are somehow kept updated on our lives, through family members, most of whom I’d never met. I’ll be honest: despite wanting to celebrate with the happy couple, I was not looking forward to the wedding. Socializing with strangers has never been my strongest skill, and since losing Dottie my capacity for being in crowds and making small talk have shrunk even further. But it went okay, considering. Though as we sat at the front of the church in the family rows, I couldn’t help but feel a bit on display: does everyone see us and think of us as the couple whose baby died? Are they curious to see what that looks like, is it marked on our faces? These days, I’m feeling increasingly like an alien trying to live in the real world.

But people were nice, and I made small talk, and mostly stayed within the safety of the few people I knew. Several people congratulated us on our new pregnancy. One person said, “I’m so glad to hear that you’re expecting again,” but very few of these people acknowledged the baby that was born last summer. In fact, only one person mentioned Dottie by name. We speculated whether this is a generational thing, or cultural, or some other distinction that makes some people so unwilling to mention our daughter by name. Is it an awkwardness, not knowing what to say, not wanting to upset us?  It’s hard not to imagine that people feel a sense of relief that we’re pregnant again, that it makes things okay, it means they have something positive to comment on rather than the awkward subject of a dead baby. I try to be forgiving. I know that people don’t know what to say; I know that it’s difficult. But I wish they would at least try.

In the difficult moments, I thought about Dottie.

I imagined her there with me, six months old, in my arms. And I felt the small flutters and kicks of the baby inside me. I imagine that they know each other, that this new baby kicks whenever I think of Dottie because somehow they are thinking of each other, too. I’ve been told that during pregnancy, fetal cells migrate from the baby into the mother, and they remain in her body for years afterwards. In the secrecy of the womb, the place they both share, I feel that I’m carrying both my children together, and this comforts me.

Read Past Bump Day Blogs from Issy:

More on this topic:

Share this story!