20 weeks. Halfway there. Oooh, it’s getting close.

These are all things that you hear when you are expecting a baby in any normal pregnancy. But, this pregnancy is anything but normal. And when your previous experiences show that making it to 40 weeks, or hell 25 weeks, is not always guaranteed, this moment is not all excitement, and in fact, is terrifying. I am even afraid to write this blog because while we will be 20 weeks by the time this publishes, right now, 20 weeks is a few days away and feels much longer away than that.

Week 20 of gestational carrier after loss: Half Fear, Half Bliss

With Colette, we practically skipped into our 20-week ultrasound.

We were getting to see our baby in more detail, to get better pictures than ever, and to knock one more thing off on the journey to parenthood. For me, I remember that the moments before the ultrasound and even the beginning of the ultrasound were so exciting. The tech was awesome and really showed us everything. She even made sure to tell us when to look away since we wanted to be surprised and did not want to know the sex of our baby.

Then, that all fell away as the doctor that we came to nickname Big Scary Doc or because I’m a Grey’s Anatomy viewer, McScary, came in and proceeded to lecture us and honestly try to scare the bejesus out of us. I almost immediately hated this man. I didn’t want to hear about all the possible horrors, especially in the blissful naivete of life before Colette, when making it to the second trimester gave us a false sense of security and safety. Getting to that point, carrying the child that had taken years to make, involved more needles and shots than I ever thought possible, tears and anger and frustration. I really didn’t want to hear about all the things that could go wrong, the things that the baby could have that wouldn’t allow them to have “normal” lives. I wanted a baby, our baby, the little one inside of me who grooved to Cuban music like her mom and who made me crave steak like her dad, the person that was part Michelle, part Mark.

McScary went on and on, and at some point, I began to tune him out.

Yes, I knew all the risks that came with being over 35 and being pregnant. Yes, I knew the risks of being overweight before pregnancy. But, in that moment, I did not actually absorb any of those because again, there was that cocoon of naivete that enveloped me. So, McScary became the enemy. He was overreacting, he did not understand that we deserved this baby, that our love for this baby would conquer all. I remember leaving the appointment, filled with pregnancy hormones and some anxiety from all of his talk, and the gnawing thoughts in the back of my head that telling us to come back in three weeks because she was not moving the way they wanted was not something simple, but a bad sign. I ranted and raved about that doctor, saying, well, if he wants to lecture me about being overweight, maybe he should lose weight first, and on and on.

And then, we went on with our lives. We were excited to have all the photos we did get and to feel like we had crossed from the first half of the pregnancy into the second half. But, not even two weeks later, we would be back at the hospital, admitted due to preeclampsia, and McScary would, of course, be the doctor on call that week, and I would learn that the nagging thought that having me come back meant a bad thing had validity because it turned out Colette was measuring behind schedule.

All of this is to say that as I write this, we are anticipating this pregnancy’s 20-week ultrasound in a few days, but the anticipation and anxiety of our previous experience make it feel like years away.

Yes, 20 weeks is halfway through a pregnancy and that is exciting. But, since the last 19 weeks feel like it has been a year, and since it has been close to four years since we first started trying, the halfway point does not seem like the relief it should. I am spending my days trying to keep busy, to try to fast forward in time until we can be in the ultrasound room and hopefully get the confirmation of a healthy pregnancy continuing to be a healthy pregnancy.

But, although in this moment, I can think that there is nothing so far to indicate this pregnancy will have any of the same issues as Colette’s pregnancy, and know that I am so much more educated and vigilant about monitoring now, I am still a loss mom and I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

And then, I am worried about the possible emotional impact and PTSD from returning to the same place, the place where the last time we had an ultrasound, they moved us into a separate room and the doctor (luckily not McScary) shared that there had been no growth in three weeks and recommended delivering that day, at 24 weeks and 5 days. Going back to that same space may be triggering. A friend of ours who went through her own losses at the same hospital asked me what room we were in and I said, honestly I could not tell you, but I think that the moment I am there, I will be able to tell you. So, like almost everything we do these days in navigating our grief, we will have to prepare for triggers, to realize we may feel that punch to the gut or a warmth of feeling Colette’s presence or more than a million different ways that grief sneaks up on you. Plus, we also will experience this with G, who will no doubt be emotional if we are emotional.

In anticipation of this upcoming big day, I am trying to focus on two things:

(1) that every single thing about this pregnancy is different and (2) that being in that space will mean we are in a space with Colette, and with the two losses that our friend experienced there. The idea of having three angels looking out for our little LL Cool T warms my heart and gives me the strength to do this.

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