For the most part, the first 4 weeks (up until week 18) of the second trimester were the same as the first. Really, starting to feel her move at almost 18 weeks was a huge turning point, moreso than the somewhat arbitrary milestone of changing trimesters. Before I first felt her movement, I had dreams about feeling her kick. I had felt Jacob earlier, so it made me very nervous that I wasn’t feeling her yet. When it finally happened, I was relieved as well as anxious for the movement to become more consistent and regular so it could start being reassuring to me.
The most notable emotion of those first few weeks of the second trimester was anxiety in anticipating of our anatomy ultrasound during week 18. When I was pregnant with Jacob, I knew that ultrasound was an important one, but my mindset was mostly one of excitement to confirm that all was well. Since losing Jacob, I’ve been grateful to connect (online or in person) with so many amazing fellow loss mamas who understand my grief and how to support me more than anyone else can, but along with that connection comes all of their stories. I now know more ways that one can lose a baby than I ever thought could have existed. And I know that many of those ways are first detected on the anatomy scan. So the days and weeks leading up to it were particularly nerve-wracking. But, we were incredibly grateful that day to receive the best news we could have hoped for: Our baby girl was healthy and growing! She was moving around on the ultrasound, but let the technician get all the measurements she needed. We even got some cute pictures, a couple where it looks like she is smiling at us :).
Our other big event of the second trimester was a scary trip to Labor & Delivery at 23 weeks and 4 days. That afternoon I started feeling really strong contractions that were very painful, and I had about 8 of them in an hour. Needless to say, I was terrified of being in pre-term labor in this dangerous early stage. The drive to Labor and Delivery that afternoon, for both Erik and me (we were coming from different locations so taking this terrifying trip separately), was definitely the most nerve-wracking moment of this pregnancy to date. Thankfully, the doctors were able to determine that the contractions were just braxton hicks, though we have no idea why they were so painful that particular day. I’ve continued to have these non-labor contractions throughout the rest of my pregnancy, but they have never again been as painful as they were that day (thank goodness). That experience definitely set a tone for the rest of my pregnancy, though, as I have been even more cautious not to over-exert myself and make sure to keep hydrated ever since then. I even cancelled any travel plans I had to leave Columbus in order to remain close to the hospital and avoid the dehydration that comes with any kind of travel. There have definitely been times when I’ve wondered whether all these precautions are necessary, but when you’ve been through what I’ve been through, it really is just best to take the safest course. At least for me, I’d rather play it safe than live with the anxiety (or God forbid negative consequences) of making any risky decisions, no matter how small the risk.
The rest of the second trimester is a bit of a blur. The predominant feelings I recall are feeling greater attachment to her as I learned her movement patterns (mostly that this girl moves around A LOT) and the sense that we had come so far yet there was SO much left to go. We were thankful for the support received as we continued to share our good news, including on social media, and received promises of prayers and good thoughts through the rest of the pregnancy. We anxiously awaited our first growth scan at 28 weeks, and those 10 weeks in between ultrasounds were not easy, though they seemed to pass relatively quickly. During this time I also took a leap of faith and did something I wasn’t sure I would be able to do for Ella Jane – I bought her some of her own clothing! I really wasn’t sure I would be able to; taking any steps that could be construed as assuming I would have a living baby at the end of this pregnancy seemed dangerous, even arrogant, in my mixed-up PAL mind. But then all those cute baby girl clothes were just too much to resist. And thinking of her in them has helped me to get excited. She will also wear some “hand-me-downs” from Jacob, but more on that in the Third Trimester update.
Overall, the second trimester was a nervous time, but a time when we received some much-needed reassurance in the form of a good anatomy scan. We confronted the labor and delivery floor for the first time since we were there with Jacob, and left with re-assurance rather than tragedy. Even with all of the positives, when the time came, we were definitely ready to leave it behind and be in the “home stretch.”