Sunday, December 5, 2010

Second Time Around

110 days down. 170 still to go. Not that I’m counting.

I will be sixteen weeks pregnant on Tuesday. I’ve only been pregnant once before, but this pregnancy feels utterly interminable. Every time I play my little time trick (where I think about how long I have to go and then think back that far in time and see how long ago that feels), I am crushed. Right now, I have five and a half months to go. Five and half months ago, I was taking my rowing class—and that seems like FOREVER ago. Time couldn’t go by any slower, I don’t think.

What makes this so much worse is that the second pregnancy is supposed to fly by. Many people have told me this and I’ve read it online, too. It’s just supposed to whip by and “that baby will be here before you know it.”  But there’s a reason for this. Usually, the second pregnancy flies by because the mama is way too busy running around after her older child to even think about all the pregnancy milestones coming up or to worry about all the things she worried about the first time around. She’s so busy thinking about how in the world she’s going to manage an infant on top of a very busy toddler that the due date arrives in no time and she just has to figure it out.

But not me. I don’t have my very busy toddler anymore to chase around and make me laugh and keep me from taking all of this too seriously. I have all the time in the world to sit and think about how Hudson should be here with me and about all the things that might still go wrong with this baby.

On top of that, Hudson was taken from me in a most bizarre way—a rare, one-in-a-million infectious disease that stealthily overwhelmed the immune system of my fully vaccinated child. As I’ve written before, once you’ve been struck by lightning, it’s hard not to wander around looking at the clouds all the time. And sadly, since I’ve joined the babyloss community, I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to know about how wrong a pregnancy can go, even after we’ve seen a 12-week ultrasound of a really healthy-looking kiddo, even after a 20-week ultrasound, all the way up until delivery and the days afterward. And, of course, I already know from experience how bad it can get even long after that. These weeks between OB appointments are really difficult right now—I know the baby was fine as of three weeks ago, but because it’s too early to feel any fetal movements, I have no way of knowing that it’s still OK. All I can do is wait for the next appointment in another week and sit on my hands to keep myself from calling the OB every day in a panic. Every twinge in my abdomen makes me think I might be having contractions, even though I know what contractions feel like now and will be able to recognize them if they actually happen. Every time I feel pressure in my pelvic floor, it’s another doomsday sign of pre-term labor, even though it’s common in a second pregnancy to feel this earlier than the first go-round. Every time I feel my heart pounding in my chest, I fear my blood pressure is going up and that I’m going to end up with life-threatening preeclampsia. I worry all the time about pulmonary embolisms--the other night, while I was lying awake in bed in the middle of the night, I felt a twinge behind my left knee and immediately thought, “Would I be able to feel a blood clot?” It’s insane—I feel insane. These are first-time mom fears—I shouldn’t be suffering through them again (and I haven’t even been reading “What to Expect” ).  I find myself tempted just to go ahead and ask the OB if I can come in every two weeks already (even though they don’t normally do this until around 28 weeks) just to keep myself from going totally nuts. 

And then on top of all THAT, I worry the most about why I’m so very anxious for this baby to arrive. Obviously, I was anxious to meet Hudson when I was pregnant with her, and I’m sure if Hudson were alive, I’d certainly be looking forward to meeting the Penguin as well. But I worry about the pressure that this anticipation inadvertently places on the Penguin’s arrival. I know better than anyone that while this new baby will bring much-needed joy into our lives, it can never erase the pain of Hudson’s absence, even if we wanted it to. I just worry about unintentionally developing false hope that the baby’s arrival will be a panacea for all that plagues us now, when I know that is not true.

I’ve written many times about the dizzying array of layers of this loss. This is just another one—never again will I have the luxury of being a happy-go-lucky, cheerfully glowing pregnant mama. And that is pretty sad.


  1. I'm sorry about so many things - and like many others I want to support though we've never met. One concrete thing: if you're interested in hearing fetal heartbeats in between OB appts, you could look into a pretty cheap baby doppler rental? A quick google will show you a few options if that would be helpful...

  2. Mandy, I've thought often about how different your second pregnancy is (and will be) than it would have been if Hudson were still alive. Your anxieties and fears are completely natural, given what you've been through. I agree that a doppler rental might be good for you, and, if you want to go to the OB in between appointments, do it. I know others who have, for various reasons. I say a prayer every day for the Penguin's healthy development.

  3. If it helps at all, Mandy, I think you're experiencing second-time Mom fears -- not first-time ones. So many of us have that luxury of glowing first pregnancies, but life teaches all of us all the things that can happen, and many of my mom friends tell me they worry much more the next time(s) around. But the lack of distraction is so very hard. I wouldn't hesitate to go in to your OB more often if you can - they'll understand. And hang on to the hope that with this new baby, there will so many moments of happy serendipity -- just as there were with Hudson.


  4. Given my "advanced age" during pregnancy, I went to the doctor often. At the time, I thought it was a bit much going to the doctor so often, but I will say that it calmed so many fears because I knew I would be seeing the doctor again real soon. Do whatever it takes to bring you some peace Mandy...whatever it takes. Here for you...Renee P.

  5. Mandy, I wonder if you could find a friendly nurse midwife or nurse practitioner who would welcome your between-OB visits? I was thinking a few weeks ago while reading a couple of your posts (one about your mom's passing), that with Hudson's death, you need a mother's comfort for yourself. Maternal comforts can manifest through lots of different avatars, and I think you should avail yourself of any that may bring you some measure of peace.

  6. Mandy-- have you considered switching to a midwife-- like a home-birth midwife? They are trained and believe in caring for the whole pregnancy-- which means taking into account YOU, and this terrible thing that has happened to you. You might find someone with that approach more likely to do extra hand-holding, which would be very reassuring, I know.

    I was very much a worrier with both of my pregnancies, so I can sympathize with that. I hope that you will be given some peace in this hard, hard, time.

  7. You, dear girl, are experiencing the anxiety that accompanies grief and depression. From where you sit, it is impossible to see that true happiness will ever be yours again. But time will heal you. Healing doesn't mean indifference to the loss you have suffered - it means you will one day have the strength to feel true joy again.

    Be kind to yourself as you make your way.

  8. Even thought what happened in my previous pregnancy was by no means the 'lightning strike' of what happened to your dear Hudson, I still find myself looking up at the clouds. Perhaps I just know too many ways in which things can go wrong? Even my mantra of 'it IS usually just fine' isn't helping.

    I'm sorry that time is passing so slowly, I also feel like time is dragging. Particularly as I'm now in the dreaded (for me) second tri. I wish that Hudson could be with you to make the time fly by.

    And I think I am with Ann. I think you are going through second-time Mom fears? I know the first time I was pregnant I didn't really believe that anything could wrong in my pregnancy or, indeed, in my life. I felt safe. Now I don't. Everything feels much more tentative this time round.

  9. Mandy, I agree with everyone here--if you feel the need to go to the OB more often than "normal" then you should do so. Do whatever it takes to relieve a little of this stress. I'm sure your OB will understand, and if not please don't hesitate to find a different one who is more sympathetic to your situation. And I don't think you, or your worries, are insane.

    I say a prayer for you and the penguin (and Hudson and Ed) daily. The penguin is already a lucky little baby to have you and Ed as parents, and to have Hudson watching after him/her.

    Allyson Lawless

  10. Mandy, thank you for writing this: "never again will I have the luxury of being a happy-go-lucky, cheerfully glowing pregnant mama. And that is pretty sad." This is a layer of loss that I'm having such a hard time with. I was at a party on labor day where there 2 pregnant women who were both just a week or two from their due dates. And as I listened to them speak with calm excitement about the upcoming births of their babies, I was in so much pain because I know I can never get back that kind of breezy confidence that all will go well. Oh, that sweet, blissful naivete - how I miss it!

    But one thing I think about is that I will appreciate a subsequent pregnancy in a far deeper way than I have ever been capable of doing before. Even though I know very well now how many horrible ways things can go wrong, I have also learned how much one can cherish every single one of the little things that go right - every heartbeat, every ultrasound, every kick, every affectionate pat of the belly. I know that you cherished every moment of Hudson's life and now you get this beautiful chance to cherish every moment of this Penguin's life even in utero. I know it's a long time (boy, do I know how slowly time can move!) but this is a beautiful time too full of rich and meaningful memories to cherish. My wish for you is that the difficult anxiety (which is soooo understandable) doesn't overshadow the joy that even these precious moments of anticipation can bring. It'll never be good or right that you are not flying through this pregnancy while you busily chase around your beautiful toddler, but there is still a special kind of beauty in these moments of waiting that not all people are capable of fully appreciating as you are.

    Thanks as always for writing so beautifully and for saying words that mean so much to me. I so understand and can definitely relate. Sending much love your way...

  11. Mandy, my second pregnancy has been interminable too. Of course, I WAS struck with life-threatening preeclampsia with Bhoman and all signs point to a recurrence, but I am SO detached from this pregnancy in any of the fun ways. I saw FOUR perinatalogists, and have a great high-risk OB, but it's really hard for pregnancy to be fun when something terrible has happened to you. I have also been wrestling with the fact that no one wants to hear you say that it isn't fun--that's not an allowable feeling, I guess. I think we're normal. Fingers crossed for both of us--I think our due dates are pretty close (5/3/11). PTSD is normal and acknowledging it, as you have, will help you deal with it. I sure feel jumpy as hell and depressed to boot. I hate that Times mag (or was it Newsweek?) article. Like what we need is MORE pressure during pregnancy. Anyway, as you know, you're not alone, but especially not in this.

  12. Oh Mandy I am thinking of you. I wish that loss of innocence was still there for all of us... it is so unfair in so many ways, and I miss it. I can only imagine how much runs through your mind these days... please know that you are thought of often and with love.

  13. Mandy, I have a very good friend who suffered through many miscarriages and infertility. When she finally made it through her first trimester of her most recent pregnancy, her anxiety was extreme. As someone mentioned above, she bought a baby doppler and her husband got very good at finding the baby's heartbeat in between visits. It made her feel much better and took away some of the constant ( and crippling) anxiety she fought. Just an idea and I've been thinking of you, Erin H.

  14. Maybe I've just been a worrier all my life but both my pregnancies were like this. I worried about everything MOST of the time. And my pregnancies were not fun - bedrest, preeclampsia, early inducement, NICU, medicines and monitors coming home with the baby. So, I know the anxiety you are feeling. It is not easy and it is not fun. For that, I'm sorry.

    And, I have a doppler you can borrow for the rest of your pregnancy if you want it.

    Jen Z

  15. Oh, Mandy. Oh, oh. I have no words of wisdom, only big hugs and sympathy and hope.

  16. When I read your posts, it always amazes me how similarly we think. And even though we are not in quite the same situation, I feel like I could have written this post (although I'm not currently pregnant, of course, but just assuming when I am again). There's really nothing to say once the innocence is lost. I wish there was something that would give it back to you, and to me, but there just isn't. It's hard to know of all the things that can and do sometimes go wrong. But I guess my only advice is something my specialist told me....look around at how many people there are in the world. It's evidence that even when it feels like they don't, usually things DO go right. Usually pregnancies don't end in disaster. Usually toddlers don't die. But ohhhhh I know how it feels to be that one in a million, and it sucks.

    Hang in there mama. Thinking of you, Ed, sweet Hudson and the Penguin everyday. xoxoxox

  17. You're in a hard place for sure. I'm sure you get asked by strangers if it's your first baby. After 26 years I'm still not comfortable being asked how many children I have. It depends on whether I want to go "there" or not. There are so many hard things in this kind of loss, and one of them is the loss of the ordinary.

  18. I know what you are going through is 1000 times harder than anything I ever experiences, but I want to give you a "hang in there" anyway. I don't know who told you the second time flies by. Good, god, I think my second and third pregnancies seemed to last longer and longer, and I was not dealing with your crushing loss and grief. will be over and you will be a proud Mama. And your extended internet family will all be with you.