Wow, friends! When I announced this pregnancy and crowd-sourced questions on Instagram, you came through with some seriously thoughtful questions! Writing out my answers here has been really helpful to me as I process the events of the last few months, which have felt like such a blur in the midst of recovery, morning sickness, and all-out exhaustion.
And in case you’re thinking, Wait, WHAT? allow me to catch you up: I’m 15 weeks pregnant with our rainbow baby — hooray!
Now, let’s dive in!
What was your reaction when you found out?
A very strange cocktail of shock, excitement, and anger. You might remember me writing about the craziest month of my life here. To recap, between July 22 and August 22, I had a miscarriage, my dog had cancer (which was removed and now she’s fine), I had an appendectomy, and what I didn’t tell you at the time was I also found out I was pregnant again. I was shocked and excited to get pregnant so quickly after the heartbreak of the miscarriage, but I was also a little angry about the timing and circumstances.
When I went to the hospital with abdominal pain in mid-August, the ER doctor ordered a CT scan to check on my appendix. I was given a blood pregnancy test first, which came back negative. I explained that based on where I was in my cycle, it was still possible that I could get pregnant that month and so I didn’t feel totally comfortable with a CT scan. The doctor understood my concerns but said that the ultrasound option would likely be inconclusive, in which case I would have no choice about the CT scan — and that it was also super unlikely that my body would get pregnant after the trauma of surgery. So I opted for the scan, had the surgery, and found out four days later that I was, in fact, pregnant.
My anger stemmed from the anxiety I had to face: I know CT scans and X-rays are big no-nos in pregnancy, and then I found myself pregnant with a baby who’d been exposed to radiation at a very vulnerable time. I kind of wished it had taken longer to get pregnant just so I wouldn’t have to worry about this particular issue. My OB/GYN was super reassuring and said that the chances of any negative affects from the CT scan are slim to none (and that it takes much more radiation to do any real harm). He also said if anything had gone wrong, the baby just wouldn’t have implanted. But once my mind gets stuck on an anxious loop, it’s really hard for me to get out of it, even when trained professionals tell me I have no need to worry.
While I’m not hyper-fixated on this anymore, it does still weigh on me. I’ve had to remind myself that this set of cirumstances is entirely out of my control. My doctor said he would never recommend termination in this case, and I would not consider it in this case even if he did, so here I am: I had a CT scan in the midst of a medical emergency, and now I’m pregnant with a beloved baby, and I have no way to change the past. I can only move forward trusting that I can face the future and choosing to believe that everything will be okay.
Whew! Way to kick things off on a heavy note. I promise this will get more fun later on.
How are you feeling?
Terrible! Actually, I’m feeling quite a bit better now at 15 weeks, but weeks 6-14 were awful. I felt nauseated all day long and had to try to disguise the sounds of my vomiting at work. More than a few times, I pulled my car off to the side of the road to get sick. The exhaustion also hit me pretty hard but that hasn’t let up yet, and I fall asleep on the couch by 8:30 most nights.
I’ve also struggled hard with anxiety this time around, which isn’t terribly surprising. After my experience with the miscarriage, I’ve been worried about everything little twinge and strange sensation — which hasn’t been helped by the fact that I’ve been spotting on and off throughout this pregnancy. (My doctor says everything is fine.) See also: anxiety after having a CT scan.
I don’t say this to tie it up with a bow, but I am genuinely feeling grateful and elated about this baby. This little one is so longed for and prayed for, even in circumstances I couldn’t have foreseen. And also, I just love being pregnant, so while not every moment is joyful, it is a joy to carry another baby.
Does anything feel different about this pregnancy vs. your pregnancy with Selah?
I feel sicker this time, but as I looked back at my journals from when I was pregnant with Selah, I realized that I had forgotten just how rough it was then too. But I never threw up with her, and I have definitely done that with this baby.
I definitely started showing sooner this time. My body was like, “Okay, I’ve done this before! Get the elastic waist bands ready!” I was all too happy to oblige. Can we talk about how maternity clothes are so soft and so stretchy and so kind to a woman’s body, while non-maternity clothes are just plain uncomfortable and mean? I think this could be a whole blog post!
I’ve also been gentler with myself this pregnancy. I am usually pretty mean to myself when I eat “bad” foods (a toxic behavior that I am working to change), but with this pregnancy, I’ve had to choose between eating “bad” foods or eating nothing at all — and eating nothing 1) would make me feel more sick and 2) is dangerous. I eventually realized that I couldn’t do much to change my new eating habits, but I did have a choice in how I treated myself: I could be mean to myself and be miserable for the whole first trimester, or I could be kind to myself and trust my body. I did not do this perfectly, but more often than not, I chose the latter.
Are you having any cravings or aversions?
Cravings: All the carbs. Just give me all of them. My biggest craving has been for cereal, which is funny because even though I love it, I almost never eat it. But pretty much every week I have bought myself a different sugar cereal to enjoy right when I wake up to stave off the hunger and nausea. My favorites are Corn Pops, Lucky Charms, and Cookie Crisp. I’ve also been craving bagels with cream cheese, popcorn, burgers and fries, and General Tso’s chicken (pretty much the only chicken I’ve been able to keep down).
Aversions: Anything/everything healthy. Starting around 6 weeks, I could barely choke down fresh veggies with hummus and a few bites of chicken for lunch. I pretty much avoided all vegetables and chicken after that. I could handle red meat and potatoes okay, so I ate a lot of pot roast with mashed potatoes, Zuppa Toscana, and mango beef. With Selah I could manage about half a meal of my normal foods, but this time around, I could barely look at most foods that weren’t carb-heavy.
Does Selah know about the baby? How did you tell her?
We didn’t make a big production about telling Selah; we just tried to explain it in a way she could understand. We talked about how some of her friends have little brothers or sisters and how she likes to play with the babies at daycare, and that a new baby would be joining our family/living in our house soon. I think she’s starting to understand it more as my belly grows and we look back at pictures of when she was in my tummy.
How does Selah feel about the baby?
She’s very excited for now! She loves to talk about the baby and tell me how she wants to help. (“I feed baby a bottle!” “I change the baby’s diaper!” Wouldn’t that be nice?) She also loves to kiss my belly and say goodnight to the baby. Selah has always been a pretty jealous kid (she gets really upset when I hold friends’ babies), so I think she will struggle a bit once her or she is here. I’m grateful that she’ll be on the older side of the toddler spectrum at that point and more capable of understanding and helping.
What will the age gap be between Selah and the baby? Did you plan for that?
They will be about 3.5 years apart. We sort of planned for it and sort of didn’t. I knew I didn’t want to have two under two, so Dan and I decided we’d try for another baby when Selah was between 18 months and 2 years. But then we booked a vacation to Thailand just after Selah turned 2, and since Zika is a risk there, we decided to wait until we got back to start trying. I thought there was a test we could take to clear us to start trying, but apparently Zika tests are only given to women who are already pregnant and have been exposed. We were advised to wait six months before we started trying to get pregnant. I got pregnant relatively quickly but had a miscarriage that month, which obviously pushed things back even further.
All that to say, we wanted our kids to be closer in age than they will be, but when I think about Selah’s personality, I’m so grateful for a larger age gap. I have loved soaking up my time with just Selah and I feel confident that I have fully enjoyed her babyhood and early toddlerhood. And I think I will be relieved by her independence (and the fact that she’s potty trained) when the baby arrives. I don’t know a single person who didn’t love a 3-year age gap, so I’m trusting that I will too!
How did things play out after your miscarriage / when you tried to get pregnant again?
Since my miscarriage happened so early and did not require a D&C, my doctor said we could start trying again right away if we wanted to. At first I wondered if I would need more time to grieve, but emotionally I did feel ready to keep trying, and that actually helped me to move on. My doctor also said that some women seem to be more fertile after having a miscarriage (but there’s not really evidence to back that up), but I was still totally shocked when I saw a second pink line the very next month (on Dan’s birthday, no less!).
What’s your opinion on announcing pregnancy before the 12-week mark?
Context from the asker: It seems like most people wait to announce until after 12 weeks because it’s seen as “risky” to announce before that, but it also feels weird to keep silent during the most difficult one-third of pregnancy. It seems like that would be a good time to have a village of people ready to help and pray. How did you decide when to start telling people each time you were pregnant?
Wow, this is such a good question!
I don’t have strong feelings about any specific time being the right or wrong moment to announce a pregnancy. I do have strong feelings that women should feel free to make the choices that are right for them, and if that means keeping a pregnancy secret longer or announcing a pregnancy sooner, then great!
I agree that there seems to be some sort of unspoken rule or tradition that it’s best to wait to announce a pregnancy until you’re in the “safe zone.” On the one hand I can see why: it would be so painful to have to get back on social media and announce a miscarriage. But on the other hand, I did exactly that even though I had never announced my pregnancy, because I wanted people to know and I needed them to walk with me. So that means I had the unwelcome task of sharing about a miscarriage without having had a chance to share the happy news first.
This time around, I did wait until 13 weeks to announce, but that timing was coincidental and had nothing to do with perceived safety or risk of miscarriage. It was just that I really wanted to take an announcement picture at Disney World, and our trip fell during week 12. Then I waited until we got home to edit and share it.
I did share the news with a lot of friends and family as it came up—basically I didn’t try to hide it at work, in private messages, in conversations, etc. This was for exactly the reason you mentioned: I didn’t want to weather the most difficult part of pregnancy alone, especially if this pregnancy had ended in loss.
I wouldn’t be opposed to announcing publicly sooner in the future, especially after my experience with miscarriage and a semi-difficult first trimester. I’d love to hear how other people have made this decision too!
Do you think it’s a boy or a girl?
From just a few weeks in, I thought for sure it was a boy. Dan thought it was a boy too, but he changed his mind at the last minute and said he thought it was a girl. And we found out at 10 weeks that baby #2 is a BOY!
I opted out of genetic testing from my doctor’s office but just couldn’t wait until 20 weeks to find out the sex of the baby. I wasn’t hoping for any particular outcome; I’m just very impatient! SneakPeek sent me their FastTrack at-home blood test, and I had the results in my email within 4 days of them shipping the test to me. Basically you give yourself a finger prick using a lancet, collect the blood in a little vial, shake it up, and send it back. They test the blood for cell-free fetal DNA (which flows in a mother’s blood even though mom and baby don’t technically share blood), and if there are Y chromosomes present, then you test positive for a boy. If no Y chromosomes are detected, the baby is a girl.
True story: You can’t even take this test in the presence of a man because his DNA could contaminate the sample. Check out this post from my friend Lindsay for a story of how this went hilariously wrong.
The whole process was so fun and easy. If I have any more babies in the future (and I sure hope to!), I will definitely be using SneakPeek again! In the mean time, Dan and I are so thrilled to be dreaming about and planning for a baby boy. Selah is also happy about this most of the time, but last night after watching Daniel Tiger, she got really upset and asked if she could have a baby sister instead. Sorry, kid!
Thank you so, so much to everyone who submitted a question, supported me through the turbulence of losing a pregnancy, and celebrated with me as I’ve shared about this one. If there’s anything specific you’d like me to cover on the blog regarding this pregnancy (or pregnancy in general), feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I always love hearing from you!