A mixed week from me. I was lucky to start my new job just a week before half term, when schools and colleges are shut for a week, so Tom and I both had this past week off work together. Then back again today for my second week. Anxiety wasn’t quite as high as for my very first day but was definitely still there; I take a while to settle into new jobs at the best of times, and I have to keep reminding myself that this adjustment, in the wake of everything this past year, is huge.

Most people consider 24 weeks “viability week” – a relief that if baby has to come sooner, they have a good chance of survival.

In the UK, 24 weeks also marks the distinction between stillbirth and miscarriage; a somewhat meaningless distinction to many, but it is the first thing I thought of when I realized I was 24 weeks: “If we lose this baby now, it would be a second stillbirth, not a miscarriage.” …normal thoughts of a loss parent, maybe?

We got to see baby at a scan this week. I’ve been having scans every four weeks with my consultant, though these will become more frequent closer to delivery as anxiety gets higher. He continues to grow well and looks as healthy as can be at this point. I’m feeling a lot of movement these days, which is reassuring, though I do still find stressful the responsibility of learning his “pattern” and being able to tell if something is wrong. But so far, he’s been nice and wriggly, particularly after a piece of chocolate cake or a hot cup of tea. The next time we see the consultant, we’ll be able to talk about exact dates for delivery – whether we set 37 weeks as a hard deadline, or if we can wait any longer. I think I know what my answer will be, but I’m doing some research on the risks to prepare myself for the arguments to keep him in a bit longer. From what I’ve heard, though, 37-weekers tend to be happy and healthy, if a little sleepy!

Issy's 24-week bump - viability and vulnerability

Author’s Personal Collection/Issy Jorden

It was also my birthday this week.

I was dreading it, to be honest. This birthday should have been my first as a parent, celebrating with an almost 8-month-old at home with us. And it is still my first as a mum, but not in the way it should have been. I’ve found special occasions and holidays hard since losing Dottie, which I suppose is a normal experience in the baby loss world. I thought I could manage okay. We made some gentle plans for nice outings and good food, but the whole day still felt a bit flat. Turning another year older, still with no children in the house, is difficult. I always assumed that I would be a “young” mum, whatever that means, and every year that passes stings a little bit. A few months ago, our 5-year-old nephew came to our house and, while looking in the boxes underneath our TV unit (the same IKEA model that he has at home), asked us why we don’t have any toys in our house. If only he knew how we long to have our living room filled with toys, the mess and chaos that comes with a busy, happy house full of children. This is the same nephew who asked loudly at a quiet moment during Dottie’s funeral, “Why did the baby die?” If only we were all so bold to ask the questions of 5-year-olds.

I’ve survived a somewhat tricky moment at my new job, telling my new boss that I’m quite pregnant (I’ve been hiding reasonably well under baggy clothes!) and will be off again in just a few months for maternity leave.

I briefly explained our history and that I’ll be having extra appointments. The conversation went well, but it felt painfully vulnerable to share what has been the biggest event in my life, in just a few sentences, with a near-stranger. For a while afterward, I felt raw and exposed, and it got me thinking about the vulnerability of pregnancy after loss. Everyone who sees that we’re pregnant makes their assumptions of a happy, exciting time. They assume a happy ending, while we expect the worst. In conversation, we have to decide whether to hide our true feelings and feign only excitement or to be honest and share some of our deep, uncomfortable fears. I’m grateful for these spaces where I can be totally honest and feel understood, and not that I’m bringing the mood down or making everyone feel awkward!

So, a mixed week all in all, but the baby is happy, and I am surviving. I think that’s the best I can hope for for now.

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