21 Weeks

Wednesday marked the beginning of the twenty-second week of this pregnancy journey. On Thursday, we went in for our ultrasound scan, to make sure everything is as normal as it seems so we can stay on track to have the birth center birth we desire. And no, we didn’t find out the sex. Not even a hint.

As a friend commented, “It’s a face. A gender-neutral face.” And what a great little face it is.

An ultrasound used to be anything but routine. And for first-time parents, it definitely feels a little bit magical. Or even a little deviant, peeking into a previously unknown realm, a deep and private place, and seeing a live and moving picture of this child before it has even opened its eyes to the outside world. With M, I had three ultrasounds. They were fascinating for this very reason. But with Baby X, the whole pregnancy has been a completely different experience.

The few times we’ve heard the heartbeat, baby kicks and moves away. The first visit when we so desperately wanted to hear that little galloping rhythm, baby kept itself hidden from us. I’ve almost gotten to feel like an uninvited guest in my own body. And while baby didn’t seem to mind the ultrasound, I still had a feeling that we were intruding. It was still fascinating, and amazing to see and capture these images, but there was a part of me that felt like I shouldn’t be looking at all.

When my test strip came up positive in August, I was shocked and tentative. We’d only just let our guard down enough to start thinking it wouldn’t be so bad to have another baby soon. It was incredible news, though, and I was very excited. But I was also trying not to count my chickens before they hatched. It was early. Only three weeks along, a barely missed period. Part of me even thought that this was not going to be our time, after all. So I waited for it to be confirmed. To become real.

The dream I had the night before I took the test indicated that this was the baby. This was a child that would stick it out and join our family. I held onto that dream in the back of my mind, underneath all the fear that maybe it wouldn’t be. But even after hearing the heart a few times now and seeing the fluttering beats, the face, the hands, the spine, and feeling the bumps and flips inside, it still doesn’t quite seem real.

I’m fascinated by my changing body, by the fact that this baby has made its presence known in completely different ways from its brother. And that’s the other thing. I have this four-year-old, this big brother in training, whom I’m trying to teach as I listen to him and learn from him along the way. He tugs at me and plants himself in front of my face and demands to be seen, to be heard. And I don’t want to be distracted from him. Though I am.

Recently, our family has settled into a routine where M doesn’t need as much from us as he used to. We can cook, clean, write or read while he plays or amuses himself for a time. We have found our own spaces. With an impending infant, it will all change again, and we’ll need to find ways to make it fall back into place. When we were expecting him, I couldn’t picture the life we’d have with M once he got here. Sometimes I try to picture what we’ll be like when we’re four. Because I know what having a baby is like. I’ve been through it once already. I know that even for all the feedings and diapers and sleep and lack of sleep, a newborn is pretty easy to fit into a life. Or to fit a life around. Another part of me knows that because this pregnancy has already been so different than my last, I might be in for some interesting surprises this spring. I’m trying to be okay with that.

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