Reflections on Pregnancy: Weeks 0-20

I’ve been itching to write about Baby C since we first found out we were pregnant in early November. Processing such a distinctly new season of life has been challenging and I was surprised to find I actually wanted to do less once I saw that first positive test. I assumed I’d go into “full planning mode” right away, but instead, I’ve found it more of an instinct to retreat. I don’t think I truly realized how long nine months is and even now, I’m more than halfway through and still amazed by how much has to happen in the next four months. At the start of the new year, I joked with Ryan that I could only think about the first six month of 2024 because in that time I will finish the school year, finish my masters, and grow a new human. That’s no easy feat!

18 Weeks

While I’m sure I’ll become busier in those final months before giving birth, I found the first half of my pregnancy felt much more “normal” than I initially imagined. There are a few things, however, I want to share in case they can help any other new mammas out there. Believe me, I frequented Reddit and baby forums most days when fears and questions crept in. It’s amazing the things you learn along the way.

Taking That First Pregnancy Test

I knew I was pregnant before I had a positive pregnancy test. I remember telling Ryan, “if I’m not pregnant, something is really wrong with my body.” Even though the boxes containing the pregnancy tests I tried boasted “results 6 days before your missed period” I kept getting negative results. Apparently, this is totally normal as HCG hormones need to build before they can be detected, and the amount needed for detection builds most significantly in those days following a missed period. We received our first faint positive test two days after my missed period and by three days after, our digital test read “pregnant.” All that being said, if you’re trying and it’s early and the tests are coming back negative, don’t give up hope just yet.

The First Ultrasound

I had to ask to have our first ultrasound at 7 weeks and in the end, it wasn’t covered by insurance because it wasn’t technically seen as “maternity care” at that point in the pregnancy. However, it was the biggest relief to see a little flicker of a heartbeat and confirm that we were in fact pregnant. If feasible, I would suggest anyone who is pregnant do the same, especially the first time around. Forget the two week wait- the 12 week wait is excruciating. I understand how, at least in the first trimester, people claim they didn’t know they were pregnant. Granted, I was very lucky to have experienced no morning sickness and very few early pregnancy symptoms.

It’s Hard to Figure Out When to Tell People

Originally, Ryan and I wanted to wait until I was 12 weeks along before telling anyone outside of our immediate family. However, we got pregnant right before Thanksgiving and Christmas which meant lots of festivities with extended family who would all know something was up the moment I didn’t have a glass of wine with dinner. Also, we liked the idea of telling people in person, if we had the chance. I was not expecting, though, how overwhelming it would be having so many people know so early. This was mostly caused by my fear that something would go wrong in the pregnancy and knowledge that those chances are highest before 12 weeks. I also found that, because of this fear, I didn’t really want to talk about my pregnancy. I felt like talking about it was willing something bad to happen. Thankfully, we reached 12 weeks and heard a strong heartbeat on the doppler. The anxiety around pregnancy is real, though, and I encourage that if you’re newly pregnant, you keep that in mind and give yourself grace to make unpopular decisions or change your mind.

Your Body Changes Fast

The worst pregnancy symptom I had was slowed digestion, which led to significant bloating, which meant none of my pants fit a month into my pregnancy. I actually started wearing some of my maternity pants at 12 weeks, which felt wild to me. Before that, I lived in flowy skirts, dresses, and leggings. Then, my bloated belly (or cookie belly as we called it over Christmas) slowly transitioned into a baby belly. During weeks 14, 15, and 16 I had a really hard time picking out clothes for school because anything remotely tight made me look pregnant and I still hadn’t shared the news with anyone there. However, maternity pants felt great and it was cool to see my body growing and changing. Also, by 12 weeks, I had gained almost 10 pounds and by 16 weeks, I had only gained one pound more. Save yourself the time; this is not a helpful thing to search on a Reddit forum. Apparently some people gain no weight and some people gain lots of weight and some fall in between. Rule of thumb: if your OB is not concerned, you do not need to be concerned.

NIPT- the Good and the Bad

I said to Ryan earlier on, I sort of wish we never had NIPT done, but he said he feels that’s only because of how our results ended up. I’m very happy to report that our NIPT revealed low risk for all trisomy conditions screened. My carrier testing also came back negative for all 14 conditions. However, when we finally got on the phone with my OB office to get our results, they said they had to call us back. My OB returned the call to share that the fetal sex was not reported due to an “atypical finding on sex chromosome.” First, we were bummed because we were expecting to figure out whether we were having a boy or girl. Second, we were a bit nervous. My OB shared she hadn’t seen this result before and that the screening company couldn’t give her much information other than this could be a normal variation, a lab error, a lack of sex chromosomal DNA, a mosaicism, or a chromosomal abnormality. While she was not overly concerned, she offered us a 16 week ultrasound and then shared that after our 20 week ultrasound, if anything appeared abnormal, we could do an amnio.

These results sent me spiraling into Google and Reddit and interestingly enough, while my OB wasn’t familiar with these results, they occur more than you’d imagine. I found dozens of posts from folks with the same results, which I found comforting. Most went on to have very healthy babies. From what I’ve gathered (and please note I am not a medical professional) the NIPT screenings are primarily for the trisomies and determining fetal sex is sort of a “bonus” test. Because of this, the false positive rate for sex chromosome abnormalities is higher. In most cases where these results occur, further ultrasounds and testing are offered- CVS or amnio, to determine whether there is in fact an abnormality present. These results also tend to cause everyone significant stress. While this wasn’t the best news, it was nice to know I wasn’t alone in everything I was feeling and thinking.

Thankfully, our 16 week and 20 week ultrasounds were just as expected. We decided not to do the amnio because of this and are happy to announce we are having a baby boy!

I’m a Little Sad I’m Not Having a Girl

When the ultrasound confirmed we were having a baby boy, I told Ryan I knew all along, I just didn’t want to say anything and risk being wrong. Call it mother’s intuition, but deep down I was sure. We are over-the-moon to be having a boy and I already can’t wait for all the fun adventures and craziness it’s going to bring to our life. However, a day or so after that sixteen week ultrasound, I was hit with an unexpected sadness that we weren’t having a girl. It’s a little easier, knowing there’s a chance down the road for another baby, but I think there’s something biological about moms wanting to have a daughter- similar, I’m sure, to fathers wanting to have a son. The sadness was fleeting, though, and we’ve jumped headfirst into baby boy prep. However, if you’re there right now, I have to imagine we’re not the only ones who’ve felt that way.

A Cold Feels Like the End of the World

I went on a Girl’s Weekend to NYC and came back sick. (Totally worth it!) At 15 weeks I experienced the worst cough I’d had in a long time and I googled quite a few times “can really bad coughing hurt my baby?” The resounding answer was, no. Still, the amount of hot lemon water I consumed in one week was unmatched. I was surprised by how nervous I felt- a cough really did feel like the end of the world! All is well now, though.

Your Bump Will Be the Weirdest and Coolest Thing Ever.

By seventeen weeks I had a distinct bump- not only by look, but by feel. I couldn’t stop marveling at how my belly had grown! It was such a fun thing but also such a weird thing because as a woman, you suck in your stomach way more than you realize. I actually had to remind myself it was okay for things to stick out and while I’ve tried to remain conscious of my posture, I can imagine how it’s going to get more uncomfortable from here. Stretchy pants for the win!

It’s Been a Bummer to Miss Out on My Favorite Winter Things.

I’m unbelievably excited that I’ll be postpartum in the summertime (which I have to imagine will benefit recovery and mental health) but I didn’t realize how bummed I would be to be pregnant in the winter. I’m missing skiing, ice skating, hot yoga, and a glass of red wine by the fire on a chilly evening. Also, I’ve been so limited in house projects. I can’t help as I normally would when it comes to shoveling and Ryan had to complete our latest bathroom renovation all on his own. Normally I’m the painter of the project, but not this time. The poor guy was painter, electrician, plumber, and architect. It’s also a challenge to rally to get my body moving because it’s so darn cold outside. I’ll say again, I’m so happy to be pregnant, but winter is a hard time, especially if you’re pregnant. Like many in New Hampshire, I’m already counting down to spring.

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