This is part of my series 100 Days: Waiting for a Rainbow.
23 Weeks sounds pretty innocuous, doesn’t it? It doesn’t really have much meaning for most of us. It’s less than half a year. It’s more than a school semester. It’s not when your insurance kicks in at a new job. In fact, I can’t think of a single thing indicated by 23 weeks. Even if you’re thinking the way I’m thinking, it’s a pretty unexciting time in fetal development. Nothing much to note as compared to earlier weeks with heart and brain and fingers and spine and such. Some people don’t even consider an unborn child “viable” yet, and you’re no where close to that point where the odds of survival are in your favor.
I’m 23 weeks pregnant today. Just a few days shy of the point my last pregnancy failed. I keep looking at my belly, round, stretch-marked, and growing daily. I keep thinking – I know what you look like, little one. I know how perfect your fingers and your toes are. I know your nose and your ears and the wispy hairs on your head. Honestly, things I wish I didn’t know. Things I shouldn’t know. But I do.
And then I cry. Because hormones. And grief. And fear. And – dare I say it – hope.
I haven’t felt like writing much, which is why Friday was my first post in months. Pregnancy strips you of so much privacy. Monthly doctor’s appointments where they grill you about food, and water, and sniffles, and poop. Strangers on the street rubbing your Buddha belly. Unsolicited parenting advice. People judging your coffee intake, the number of tubs of ice cream in your shopping cart, and the size of your bump.
High risk pregnancy, however, is a whole new level of “not private.” I’ve been averaging 2-3 doctor’s appointments a month. At one point I saw 3 different doctors 4 different times within 5 weeks. Strangers’ hands all up in my business. I keep telling everyone this baby will be born camera shy because we’ve had so many ultrasounds. I’ve had doctors chuckling at the length of my cervix and I’ve received compliments on the perfection of my uterus. No joke. As if that didn’t make one feel awkward.
So I’ve been hesitant to show up here and spill even more. But it’s time, which is why I started the 100 Days: Waiting for a Rainbow series.
The past two weeks have been really hard. I’ve cried at least once every day. My panic sent me rushing to the hospital last week. My mind is running to the tick of an unending clock “what-if what-if what-if…” Tick-tock, tick-tock. While most pregnant women are just buckling in for the long haul of the third trimester, I’m wondering if I’ll get a third trimester. All of the doctor’s reassurances in the world don’t seem to have much of an impact on my scared little heart, thumping away to the rhythm of what-if.
Fortunately, underneath it all is a still small voice repeating a favorite quote of mine. All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well (Julian of Norwich). So while my emotions are raging, and my hormones are raging, and Squishy is playing hide and seek in my internal organs and scaring me half to death, I’m clinging to hope. It may not look like it, it may not sound like it, but I am.
The theme of this week has become “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” I’m willing to have hope, to believe that all shall be well. But part of me can’t help thinking I’m being naive. While my spirit is washing baby clothes and making minor adjustments to my baby registry, my flesh is thinking how foolish I am. Thinking how painful it will be to have a lovely nursery with no baby.
And so, 23 weeks. I’m rushing the days on the calendar, wishing it was 24 weeks, 28 weeks, 37 weeks. I try to not judge myself for wishing away time, I try to slow myself down. In a few days, I’ll be more pregnant than I’ve ever been. I’ll have entered something completely new, and why oh why would I wish it away?
How do you slow yourself down and enjoy the painfully slow moments of your life?