I forgot to mention in my last post, the first trimester is also when we found out the gender of the baby. Because we didn’t feel like setting a forest on fire, we didn’t have a gender reveal party (not that we could have anyway with corona going on). At ten weeks I had the Noninvasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) done. NIPT is a screening test for the most common genetic disorders and it can reveal the gender of the baby as well. Since Ben and I never planned on throwing a gender reveal party, I chose to have the person who called with me the results for the genetic testing tell me.
Being perfectly honest I had never seen myself as a boy mom. In all of the times I imagine what it would be like to be a mother, I had always imagined myself with a daughter. I grew up with sisters. Until college, I always had more female (in fact, pretty much exclusively female) friends. I lived in an all-women dorm. I was always more comfortable around other women. I assumed that I would have a girl. But when the woman asked me if I wanted to know the gender and I confirmed, suddenly this thought popped into my head, “Oh, shit, she’s gonna tell me I’m having a boy!” And then she told me it was a boy.
I legit panicked for a second. What the heck did I know about little boys? What was I supposed to do with them? I calmed myself down by saying well, for the first couple of years, he’s not going to have any concept of gender, so it doesn’t matter anyway. We’ll figure it out together.
Other prenatal testing
I also got the nuchal translucency test at the same time. It’s another screening test for chromosomal abnormalities. The results said everything was normal, which helped to put my mind at ease that things were going well during my pregnancy.
I got a lot of ultrasounds because my pregnancy was considered high-risk. I didn’t mind because at almost every visit the technician would kindly print a few pictures for me to take home. You really can’t see much in the first couple of ultrasound photos, but after 20 weeks, you can start to see the baby’s face. I’ll talk more about this later.
It’s now March 2020 and I’m in California. The first wave of COVID-19 is here in the US and it’s hitting New York City HARD (looking back, it was the smallest wave as the following summer and winter waves were much larger, but we had no idea how much worse everything was going to get). My mother is completely well and no longer needed help, but it seemed unwise for me to fly home to where the coronavirus was so much worse. My parents, Ben, and I agreed that I should stay with my parents until we felt it was safer for me to fly home.
I ended up staying with my parents for two full months, which is the longest period of time I have lived with my parents since I left home to go to college at 17. (Once I left for college, I only came home for a month at most because I spent my summers doing things, like being a nanny in Europe or research.) It was absolutely lovely being with my parents. I have a wonderful close relationship with my mom, so it’s never a pain or a bother being with her. I know lots of people who may love their parents, but they don’t want to spend a lot of time with them for various reasons. It’s not like that with me and my parents. I can go on and on about how great and pretty darn close to perfect my parents, especially my mom, are. I want you to know that staying in CA with my parents was an absolute pleasure, only marred by Ben’s and Bandit’s absences.
I ate lots of good food, went on walks with my mom, and did work remotely. The only sucky part was when I had to wake up early for morning meetings because of the time difference.
I had one of my prenatal check-ups done via a video conference call. Basically the doctor just asked how I was feeling (fine) and when I’ll be back in NY so they can monitor me (don’t know).
Ben and I tracked the number of coronavirus cases in NY and CA pretty closely while I was in CA. When NYC’s cases were steadily dropping and CA’s cases were steadily rising, we decided that I should fly back before CA got worse. If you look at a graph of NY’s and CA’s cases plotted against time, I flew back exactly when the two lines crossed each other. My mom was able to get a N95 mask for me by bartering our Meyer lemons (we grow them in our backyard) for one mask from one of her friends. Her husband works in construction, so he had those masks anyway before corona and they very kindly gave me one of those precious masks so I could fly home in a safer manner. Ben offered to pay for a business class ticket on the thought that I would have more room. But I declined, because I figured very few people would be flying in coach. I was right. Business class was completely sold out and there were only a few people in coach, so I had a whole section of the plane to myself. Ironically I had more space in coach, then I would have if I had flown business class.
At around 20 weeks, you get an anatomy scan, which is when people used to find out the sex of the baby. I want to comment about how amazing technology is these days. I remember an ultrasound photo that my mom got when she was pregnant with my baby sister (there’s a 12 year age gap between us). The photo didn’t look like anything, just grey static. I couldn’t even tell that there was a baby there. Since I had that memory, I was expecting something like that again. Instead I got really nice pictures of the baby where I really could tell it was a baby. Until the baby got older, the photos were just profiles of the baby, so I couldn’t tell what the baby looked like, but I could look at the pictures and see a human forming. It was amazing. I lived with those photos. Before I drove home after each appointment, I would sit in my car and stare at the photos for an extended period of time in awe that I had a life growing in me. At a couple of my appointments, the technician gave me 4D ultrasound photos, which are better quality 3D photos. You can really see the baby’s face. It’s kinda funny, but when you see the 4D photo, you still wonder what the baby would look like, but when the baby’s born, you see he looks exactly like the 4D photo. I was super amazed that I got all these great ultrasound photos for free at my doctor’s. Some years back, my other sister had paid to get these photos done at a studio and now they’re available for free at a doctor’s office.
First-time mothers feel their babies move for the first time around 18-22 weeks. I was very curious to feel the baby move. Everytime I thought I felt something, I would describe it to my mom, who would then tell me that wasn’t the baby and it was gas or cramps. I think I was like 21 weeks when I definitely felt something that could not be anything other than the baby. It felt like someone gave me a sharp poke inside my body.
I was absolutely huge for most of my pregnancy and not in a of-course-you’re-big-you’re-pregnant sort of way. I mean, I was really gigantic. I clearly looked pregnant by the end of the first trimester. In fact I couldn’t wear my normal work pants anymore (not that I needed to because we were all sent home because of corona). I switched over to wearing “maternity” clothes. I really wanted to avoid buying stuff as much as possible (and I succeeded because working from home meant that I didn’t need nice clothes that could accommodate my growing body), so for most of my pregnancy I wore same few large article of clothings that I bought. My favorite article of clothing was a stretchy dress that I could wear when I wasn’t pregnant and the dress easily stretched as my belly grew. By the end of the second trimester, I was enormous; I looked like I was about to give birth soon. People were incredulous when I told them that I still had several more weeks left. Some women stay slim for a lot longer and grow into a cute pregnant look. I may have had my cute pregnant look for all of two weeks at most. Most of the time I was just huge and ungainly looking. I’m not hating on my body. I’m telling the unvarnished truth.
I don’t remember exactly when the scare happened, but it was sometime in July, so it was probably towards the end of the second trimester. I was back in Brooklyn.
I wake up in the morning and Ben’s already downstairs making our coffee. I went to the bathroom. There I saw spotting. Now spotting is normal during pregnancy. It generally doesn’t mean anything and is not anything that one needs to be concerned about. I wouldn’t have been concerned, except this was the third morning in a row that I saw spotting and more concerning, the spotting was heavier than the prior two days.
I’m getting scared and I try to pull myself together and not fall apart. My worst fears were coming out. I was terrified that what I was seeing were the first signs of threatened pregnancy and that I was going to lose my baby in hours. This was the moment I realized that once a woman experiences a miscarriage, there’s a part of her that still has the trauma of seeing the exiting blood. You will always live with the fear of seeing that sight again.
I go downstairs and I say what I think is a calm voice (but in reality I was probably close to hysterical), “I need to go the hospital. I’m spotting. I need to go to ER right now.” Ben immediately stops what he’s doing and he sees that I’m worried and scared. He calmly asks if I’m bleeding or if I’m spotting. If I’m bleeding, then we’ll go to the ER right away, but if I’m spotting, then we should call my doctor first. I’m getting more hysterical now because all I can think about is what if I’m losing my baby and I insist we go to ER. Ben counters that ER may not be the best place for me and again wanted to know if I was bleeding or spotting. I told him I was spotting and explained that it was heavier than the previous day, so I was afraid it was going to turn into bleeding. He asked if I was bleeding right then. I admitted I wasn’t and that the spotting had stopped. He told me to call the clinic’s emergency line to get a doctor and we could ask questions to see what was the best thing to do. I got a hold of a doctor and told what I experienced. She was concerned, but didn’t think I had to go to ER, but she did want me to go see a doctor that day. Basically the condition was urgent enough to warrant seeing a doctor, but not an emergency where I had to rush to a hospital as soon as possible. At this, I calmed a bit down and made an appointment for later that morning.
I was supposed to have a work meeting, but obviously I couldn’t attend, so I made arrangements to have someone else cover me. Then Ben and I went to the clinic. They saw me right away as soon as I arrived. The doctor (a different one from the one I spoke to earlier) listened to what I experienced. She listened to the baby’s heartbeat and said that the baby seemed fine. The heartbeat was strong and regular, so we were not in immediate danger. She had a couple of ideas of what could be happening. The most likely thing she thought was that I had some kind of bacterial infection. She wanted to take a look and take a sample. When she took a look, she immediately found what was the source of the spotting. Thanks to the increasing hormones in my body, I developed a polyp, which was very delicate and full of blood vessels, and anytime the polyp swung around and hit the cavity wall, it would bleed. She said the polyp was not in the way of the baby and not posing any danger to the pregnancy, so they were going to leave it alone and that it should go away on its own after I deliver, but that I did need to go on pelvic rest, which included no vigorous exercise. I was so relieved that everything was fine and that I didn’t have to worry about the baby being in danger. I also had no problem being told not to run anymore because I had stopped running several weeks ago, but now I could say it was doctor’s orders.
I’ll end here at the end of the second trimester. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, I survive a pregnancy scare, and I’m gignormous.