Zoe’s First Story, part 2

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Here is the thing about miscarriage: it strips away confidence.

All the optimism, all the nonchalance I breezed into my first pregnancy with got completely blown out of the water by that loss. So when the second pregnancy happened, and happened so quickly, I spent nine weeks with a mixture of disbelief and dread.  I just didn’t want to go through that heartbreak again.

And even though I knew better, I found myself questioning how “real” this one was.  Did I have enough symptoms?  I didn’t, I couldn’t, I wasn’t nauseous or tired enough.  I didn’t “feel” pregnant.  I felt like I was holding my breath, expecting it to go wrong.  Mike and I agreed not to tell anyone this time, though we did reveal it to our parents.  We pinky-swore them to secrecy.  I had a bit of gallows humor about the whole thing, though I did continue to take vitamins and eat “right”, as defined by me.

I slept poorly the night before my nine week appointment.  Anxiety had me waking up three times.  When we got there, the CNM didn’t spend much time asking questions — she knew I’d had a miscarriage two months before, so we got straight to business.

We started with the fetal doppler to try and listen for a heartbeat.  Not the CNM’s idea, but she was interning a woman that day, and the intern wanted to try.  Nothing.  The head midwife brushed this off — too early, she said.  Then the ultrasound gel got applied, and the monitor came up, and —

“That baby came right up!” she said.  “And there’s the heartbeat!”

“Everything looks like it’s supposed to?” I asked, lying back and staring up at a dim monitor.  The other three people in the room were intently focused on a different one which had a better picture.  “Everything’s right?”

“Yup,” she said, getting a better angle and making some measurements.  “Everything’s right.”

Tears leaked out of the corners of my eyes.  “Yaaaay,” I said, squeezing Mike’s hand.

Despite being pretty darn sure of when we conceived, measurements came up at “on the threshold” of 8 weeks, not the 9 I was expecting.  12 weeks later, though, we had the second ultrasound, and she was readjusted back to within the range of my conception date.  As of this typing, baby Zoe is at 20 weeks, 1 day.  If you believe the internet, she’s the size of a cantaloupe, though she weighs an ounce or two more.  So really, she’s the size of a 20 week + 1 day Zoe.

I won’t say that I stopped worrying after that initial exam.  I still worried.  I worried through the genetic screen.  I worried through the quad screen.  I worried the night before the 2nd trimester ultrasound.  I lost sleep.  I had very bad anxiety nightmares.

And I had epic moments of total relief when test after test came up good.  I’d walk out of appointments and put my face in my hands and take long, deep breaths.  And I’d whisper to her, “Please be good, Zoe.  Be good.”

The night before the second ultrasound, I decided to take a leap of faith.  And so I bought…cloth diapers.

I know. You may be scratching your head.  But this was, for me, the moment when I decided to stop waiting for things to go wrong and look forward to all that would go right.  I also bought maternity pants and a diaper pail liner.  These routine purchases were huge milestones for me.  I’d gone shopping for bigger bras the night before we got the bad news about the first pregnancy; I went 20 weeks without buying anything for this second one because I just couldn’t deal with a material reminder of a loss I had zero control over.

But so far, so good.  Zoe’s kicking and squirming and reminding me every hour that, hey, I’m in here. It’s okay. I’m being good, she says.  You be good right back.