Ember is 20 weeks on Wednesday (dated from most recent ultrasound).
Although I've scrupulously tracked Ember's gestational age, the anxiety-tripper in me typically refuses to be (much) reassured by numbers. Note I never put Ember's gestational age in the subject line. Coincidence, no. Still. There are a few unmistakable signs that we really are at twenty weeks.
In the past week, three people at work that I hadn't previously told have observed/asked if I'm pregnant. I'm sure that one at least had no way of knowing, because she doesn't work at the school and hadn't seen me in months: she is a specialist who had an appointment on that day. And the moment she spotted me she sang out: "Wow, I didn't know you were expecting, congratulations!" The she proceeded to ask me when I was due and other details and generally behave like this was a totally normal conversation to be having with someone. Which I suppose it is; it's just not a conversation anyone has ever had with me.
The other two people who approached me are teachers at my school, but not people I work with directly. Now, it's possible that they had heard something through the grapevine. I have after all told several people at work, and none of them were sworn to secrecy, except with regards to the students. But I rather suspect they also figured it out by looking at me.
Which is a convoluted way of saying that my midsection is starting to stick out rather noticeably, I guess, and like it or not I'm heading belly-first into yet another stage of this pregnancy.
Although I'm a little freaked out by the fact people can tell, I find myself mostly OK with it. It helps to have people behave like pregnancy is normal, since I've had such a helluva time feeling normal.
What else. My mother-in-law and stepfather-in-law visited us this weekend. We did fun things together like plant flowers and bake muffins. We had some extra time on Sunday, and she had allergies to something outside, so we decided to be very creative and go to a mall. As we were trying to decide which one, I mumbled "C------ Mall has the maternity boutique...." MIL was like "OH YES let's go there." So, we did. I wasn't keen to visit this store on my own, but with some backup I figured I could do it. And I found out that goshdangit those maternity pants really are much more comfortable than my jury-rigged regular pants. I left with a few basics to get me through the rest of the school year and the summer. I balked at signing up for a points card and getting baby samples, however. Irrational maybe, but while I was prepared to walk out of the store with a bag full of maternity clothes, I was not prepared to walk out with a bottle and onesie. That comes later, K?
And today was my first appointment with the ob/gyn. My doctor referred me to this clinic after I decided which hospital to deliver at. The appointment went well. We first chatted with the nurse for about 45 minutes. We went over my history and she listened for the baby's heartbeat, which was strong and steady, although Ember kept moving away from her. This was Mr. Turtle's first time hearing the heartbeat although he has been with me to two ultrasounds and has seen the heart.
The nurse also took the time to talk with me about questions and concerns. We talked a bit about issues around timing my maternity leave from work (that will have to be a whole other post). I also shared about how anxious I have been throughout the pregnancy. She listened very well and suggested a few community resources for education and connection. There is also someone called a "behavioural health consultant" whom I can talk to at the office if I have a lot of anxiety or other issues. That is good to know, but it even helped just to tell someone in person how the past few months have been for me and have them acknowledge the reality of that experience, while being reassuring that everything continues to look good.
Afterwards I had a somewhat shorter meeting with one of the doctors. Several doctors share the practice so I will see a different doctor at every appointment, so they all get to know me somewhat. When the time comes to deliver it could be any one of them. The only thing the doctor wanted to follow up was a rather ambiguous comment on the latest ultrasound report that indicated a fibroid near my cervix. It was unclear if the fibroid was in a position to potentially block the birth canal, so I will probably have to go for another ultrasound in a few weeks to see where it is. I also mentioned that I am thinking of hiring a doula, which she said was great but to find someone who can go with the flow and not try to influence medical decisions.
In summary, I feel that in some intangible way reality has shifted a bit for me, and in a good way. Not that I'll immediately stop fretting about vaginal goop and weird belly twinges, but I think I'm starting to feel/be more like a person who's having a baby rather than a person whose body is full of danger and difficulty. When I came home I read through most of the literature that the ob/gyn gave me. I was able to read about pregnancy and birth and babies without cocooning in protective denial or disbelief. All the information was fascinating, but the most intriguing was the section on breastfeeding. I had always imagined babies daintily sipping at the nipple, but the book went into all the details and how they wrap their whole mouth around the boob and suck like crazy. I'm actually feeling excited about learning more about everything.
Wishing everyone the best always,