life motherhood

The Illusion of “The Perfect Pregnancy”

I’m officially 23 weeks pregnant. I now regularly feel my daughter kick and move, and my husband and I fall more in love with her every day. My favorite moments are when her little movements wake me up in the morning, as if to say, “Mama! Time to get up!”

When I originally envisioned being pregnant, I pictured all of the good things — sporting super fashionable maternity wear, still joining my friends out and about at dinners and happy hours (non-alcoholic for me, of course) and pushing myself to have the fit pregnancy I so very much wanted. 

But sometimes life has other plans.

Don’t worry, our baby girl is right on track with her development. All of the scary tests have gone well, and she is measuring right where she should be. For that, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I can’t even describe.

That’s what makes this so hard, because the issue is with my body. Long story short, I have a shortened cervix. It should be around 4-5 cm — at least 3 cm at a minimum — at this point in my pregnancy. At 20 weeks, it was 1.25 cm. 

What does that mean? 

No working out, no commuting to work, minimal walking and physical activity. Weekly doctor appointments and ultrasounds. No sex. If I become dilated before 24 weeks, I’ll need to get a cerclage (where they put a stitch in your cervix to prevent pre-term labor), and that runs a huge risk of breaking my water. 

When we first learned of the news a few weeks ago, we were really scared. We still are, but those initial three or so days were filled with lots of tears and quiet reflection. It was hard to talk about. 

But then we developed an action plan. We got serious about making these changes. And at 21 weeks, I measured at 1.6 cm. Still way below where I should be, but making progress in the right direction. We felt hopeful.

The following week (which was the week before/of Christmas), I let the world get the best of me. An intense week of client meetings caused me to work 12 and 13-hour days — and the full weekend before — without enough sleep or resting time. Never wanting to be the lazy one (or being too stubborn to ask for help), I still walked, stood and did everything I normally would.

And the weekend brought no rest. I tried to stay seated as much as possible during Christmas Eve and Christmas, but it was hard. And I didn’t not do as much as I should’ve.

At 22 weeks, I measured at .97 cm.

A wave of horror rushed over me when I heard that. We cannot have this baby early. I could barely wrap my head about potentially giving birth a couple months early — and at the bare minimum, we HAVE to make it to 32 weeks. That’s 9 more weeks!

Luckily, I am still not dilated, and praying that does not happen. And my doctor is staying optimistic. I keep replaying her words in my head: This does not mean you cannot make it full-term — I’ve seen women do it

I’ve read the forums and the articles. I know I have only a 30%-50% chance of making it full-term. I know that the odds are scary.

But every time I feel her kick — every flutter, every nudge — every time I see her on the ultrasound, I can’t help but feel so incredibly grateful. This little human I already love so much is my responsibility, and I’m going to do everything I can to ensure she is healthy and strong.

So I’m in it. I’m back on track, and being vocal about my priorities. During the last week, I’ve been nearly completely immobile. I’ve left my house once

I would lie if I said it hasn’t been hard. It’s a little depressing, and a bit lonely, especially for a busy body like me. I miss feeling active and strong. I miss feeling productive. I miss my friends. But every time I think about those things, I remember what I want more than all of those things combined: a healthy baby girl.

And it makes me realize: there is no perfect pregnancy. Every woman is different. Some women can run marathons while pregnant. Some women have the much-coveted “belly only pregnancy.” Others are terribly sick, on bedrest or encounter other uncomfortable or even scary situations. Pregnancy is simply easier for some than it is for others, and that’s okay.

If you have any tips for being on near bedrest, please share! Or if you’re in a similar situation, I’d love to chat. In the meantime, I’ll be on the couch. 🙂

(P.S. — The above pic is me, finally getting off the couch, sans makeup. Don’t worry — I was only on my feet for a few minutes. Not really my finest or most stylish moment, but this is my new uniform: legging, tees and sweaters. Not glamorous, but #reallife.)

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