(Content: second pregnancy, ultrasound - including photo, at bottom - plans)
For me, the first trimester feels rather like being on a runaway train (or at least, a train I do not control) heading toward a track switch. A hand is on the track switch, ready to send the train in one direction or another, but I don't know which, and I don't know what is down that track.
I suppose all of life is actually like this, but being the (flawed, mortal) carrier of another life I always feel it more.
Sprite's 12-week ultrasound, including nuchal translucency scan and other screenings, felt very much like an upcoming track switch. Of course I knew what I hoped to see, what everyone else hoped to see, and indeed, was expecting to see: with more confidence than I felt, it often seemed.
I thought about and read about all sorts of possibilities in the days leading up to it. I can't say I had any coherent thoughts about them. I just had to look....at different possibilities.
But we got the best possible results last week. Remembering that AJ was rather unco-operative at her scan last time around, and wouldn't move for the technician, I ate a couple of candies shortly before the scan. Maybe it worked, because the first thing the technician said was "there is the baby moving around" (phew) and then told me to go pee, because despite never drinking as much as recommended I still managed to have too full a bladder.
Sprite was very wiggly throughout the whole scan, which was lovely and fun to see. There was no trouble getting all the measurements, and they lined up with what they should be. "Everything that should be there, and nothing that shouldn't," as Mr. Turtle put it. He/she is slightly longer than expected for gestational age - a tall baby? Heart rate is identical to AJ's (Ember's) at the same age: 150. I may amuse myself by trying to read (contradictory) things into that information: but mainly I'm happy - VERY happy - that Sprite is developing normally as far as we can see and my odds for chromosomal conditions are revised to 1 in the thousands, with no further screening recommended. I'll take those odds. My due date was revised to January 31st. I am rather unreasonably annoyed by that; I preferred February 1st. It's just a day though.
Afterwards, relieved and ravenous, Mr. Turtle and I went out for lunch and had a nice visit. I had decided that if all looked good at this scan, I was going to make a mental and emotional effort to Move On: and follow that up with actual actions, in so far as I am able.
First step: "allow" myself to be happy.
Start wearing maternity clothes. I actually washed them all the day before the ultrasound, but I didn't put them in my drawers: I left them in the laundry basket tucked away in a corner. I'm at a weird stage where regular size pants aren't comfortable, and tend to fall down, but maternity clothes don't quite fit right either (at least in the first part of the day). But the maternity clothes are still better overall, and unlike last time when I tried to stay in regular clothes with bella bands, and conceal what was going on, I'm all about comfort now.
Referral to ob/gyn. I have the same ones as last time, which I'm happy about, and see them in the fall for the first time. I stay with my regular doctor till then. Again, I'm pretty matter of fact about it. It feels good to take this step.
Contacted our doula from AJ's birth and made plans for her to attend the upcoming birth. I haven't discussed the "birth plan" in detail but assuming it will be the same as AJ's: hospital birth, as few interventions as possible but retaining all options, and Mr. Turtle and doula in attendance. I am really happy that I can have all the same pieces in place as for AJ's birth. I know I can't predict what will happen, but it is comforting to have familiar elements. I'm especially happy that we can have the same doula. Last year she moved out of the city with a new boyfriend, though she still returned for some births. However, the boyfriend is now a fiance and they are moving back to the city this fall. Another way in which "timing" has worked out just fine, despite having, like, no control over timing.
Get my hair cut and highlighted for the first time in 4 months. I have been growing it longer, and then when I got pregnant and was sick all the time I didn't want to go to the hairstylist. But I have been feeling neglected. I had a new stylist this time, and I gave her my perspective that haircuts are temporary, I don't take myself too seriously, and I trust her to suggest what might look good. So I got a slight trim, not losing a lot of length but much weight, and some highlights that we tinted strawberry. The pinkish colour will fade in a few weeks but it's fun for now and I'm liking how it works with my skin.
Manicure and pedicure, which I still haven't done.
Embracing better daily energy and health. I still turn into a pumpkin around dinner time, but I can keep going quite well in the middle of the day for several hours, and I am even skipping my noon nausea pill. (I still carry it with me, in case things go south).
Processing that this will most likely be my last pregnancy and child. I'm 95% sure it will be, assuming it ends in a live baby. If not, I might find the courage to try one more time, though I don't like to think of that. At all. I will be 38 in December and after 6 years of focusing significant time and effort on getting pregnant, I really think I'm done. Of course I have all these brain patterns specifically dedicated to TTC, and who knows what I will do with them all.
I have to admit, that the thought "this is the last time I'm pregnant" has so far brought a feeling of relief. I want this pregnancy to work, because I want and love my unborn child. But also partly because I really don't want to do this again. The nausea was worse, the fatigue was worse; I'm older and busier with responsibilities. The screen didn't suggest chromosomal differences, but of course that's not a guarantee: I always have in the back of my mind I COULD have a special needs child (anybody can). I have faith that I'd face that reality with love and resolve, but I'm not anxious to take on further risks as we age.
Still. I know my nausea and overall physical weakness is affecting my emotions at the moment, as as those symptoms (hopefully) lesson, I'll probably have more complicated feelings about this likely being the last time. I hope to embrace those feelings with the awe and gratitude that we are in the position to make this decision while getting what we wanted. It's a VERY different decision than the one we would face if the gamble did not pay off. And we were one little track switch away from that reality.
But hey. In CS Lewis's Screw Tape Letters, the senior devil gives the junior devil this wise advice about humans: Do whatever you can to prevent your human charge from living in the present. It is better if he lives in the past, but better yet if he lives in the future. Because when they live in the present, humans are the closest they can get to heaven, if they only knew it.
So, begone devils. Here is my present, my ever changing growing present. I give you: Sprite.