26 weeks! I finally feel like I have a real “bump” rather than just a suspiciously expanding tummy, and am trying to remember to take some bump photos in this pregnancy. As someone with a slightly larger body to begin with, I find the changes of pregnancy hard – while I know there’s nothing wrong with just looking a bit bigger, it is nice when it shifts to looking like there’s an actual baby in there. Last year when I was visibly pregnant with Dottie I felt self-conscious about looking pregnant in public; it felt vulnerable, like I was unwillingly exposing a secret to everyone that saw me. This time I’m trying to enjoy it, despite the feeling of vulnerability. This baby is already valuable and loved, and doesn’t need to be hidden from the world.

Issy's 26-week bump

Author’s Personal Collection/Issy Jorden

Last weekend I found myself in a slump.

Whether it was tiredness, grief, anxiety, or pregnancy hormones (or most likely a mixture of it all), I was sad and grumpy and not enjoying life very much at all, and so was unable to write an update. Thankfully this week has gone better: I’m adjusting to working again, regaining a bit of energy, and my mood has picked up. Sometimes I feel embarrassed about how long it is taking me to readjust to doing “normal” things – working part time, taking care of tasks around the house, going to church or seeing friends. I am constantly feeling like I should be better by now, back to normal. But then I remember that I am 8 months postpartum and 6 months pregnant. Eight months out from losing my first baby. It’s not surprising that I’m still reeling, still feeling the effects of the trauma. I try to be kind to myself, but historically that’s not something I’m great at.

This week I had a (mild) case of reduced movements.

Usually a very wriggly baby, I woke up one morning, and he didn’t immediately kick me. Throughout the day, I felt a bit of movement, enough to reassure me that he was still there, but a bit less than usual. I had a midwife appointment booked for the following day but knew that my anxiety would become close to unbearable if I waited longer than I had to. So I phoned the midwives, and we went in to be checked. As I’m not yet 28 weeks baby is too small to be put on the monitors at hospital, so we were able to go to our local midwife unit closer to home, and were thankfully in and out in just a few minutes, in contrast to the long wait times we’ve experienced in hospital triage! The midwife was lovely. Baby had flipped to be head down (already!) which might be why the movements felt different to me, and she reassured me that she could feel him moving, which helped when it took a few seconds to find his heartbeat on the doppler. Overall, it was an hour out of our day, reassured us, and we hardly had time to panic beforehand.

But there was something lingering. I had just finished work before I called the midwives, and Tom asked if I wanted a cup of tea before we left the house. I said no, I’ll have a cup of tea and something sweet when we get home, then immediately regretted it. What if we couldn’t come straight home? What if we were about to face a problem that couldn’t be solved by a hot drink and a chocolate biscuit? We both remember making plans last June that were never achieved. I was fairly sure this time that baby was okay, but my confidence can only stretch so far. For the most part, I pushed down the panic, got through the check, and felt okay afterwards. But the next day at work, I suddenly found myself wanting to cry, remembering the few seconds before the doppler found his heartbeat, wondering if it was all over. Remembering the day that no heartbeat was found, in the same building, with a different baby.

Issy's 26-week bump with baby items in a basket - bumps and wriggles

Author’s Personal Collection/Issy Jorden

Frequent appointments are helpful, but reassurance only ever lasts a split second.

I’m so grateful to have made it this far, to know that the odds are on our side, but I also know that these next few weeks will be the hardest part of the pregnancy. I get the impression that for most people, anxiety eases as the pregnancy progresses. I see content creators online saying that their pregnancy anxiety has completely faded now that they feel baby moving, now they’re past viability, or whatever other markers we use to assume the “safe zone.” For me, I feel the responsibility of this baby’s life is in my hands. That every day I have to monitor him, to know the second something goes wrong, to get to hospital in time. I listened to his beautiful heartbeat sounding through the doppler and thought, I want this heart to keep beating for another 90 years. And yet it feels so fragile. My mantra on bad days is simply, most babies live. Most hearts just keep beating. So we keep hoping.

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