Motherhood & Words

We had our twelve-week check-up on Friday and heard the little bugger’s heartbeat. Such a relief. Of course, I have a slew of other worries about the pregnancy, but after an early miscarriage in January, it was a relief to hear that minuscule heart pumping away.

And did I mention that I love my doctor? She played a large role—in a saving-our-lives kind of way—in my first pregnancy, and it’s so comforting to see her again. I grew up going to an HMO, and I never saw the same doctor more than twice. How different it is to be treated by a doctor with whom I share a history, who knows me. And she’s no-nonsense. She never makes me feel stupid for worrying the way I do, but she does try to nip my neurosis in the bud. On Friday, when I mentioned that I was worried about the small jump in my blood pressure, she just smiled, said that the small increase was normal, and added, dryly, “Kate, you’re pregnant.”

“But—” I started.

“Kate, you’re pregnant.”

She then turned to D. and told him he could pull that line out if he needed to, just as a reminder. Okay, fine. I’m pregnant. She also said that I shouldn’t worry for TWENTY weeks. Since I presented with preeclampsia symptoms around 30 weeks, she said that even if I get it again, it’s not likely to happen before then, so I should put it out of my head. (Imagine, 20 whole weeks without worrying!) She also said that because I made it to the third trimester last time, she wouldn’t recommend that I take baby aspirin everyday (which has been shown—in some studies—to lower the recurrence of preeclampsia).

So, it was a good report, and hearing the heartbeat made the pregnancy feel real to me.

After the appointment, we picked up Stella at my sister’s house and told her that she was going to be a big sister. Have I mentioned that for the last few months she has been having tantrums for a baby sister? A friend of Stella’s recently “got one,” and since then, she has been throwing herself on the floor weeping and yelling, “It’s not fair! I’m never going to get a baby sister. I’m never going to get one. I want one right now!” (We have had discussions about the fact that she might get a baby brother instead, but she’s not believing that for a second. She’s got her mind made up.)

When we told her about the baby, she first said a long, drawn-out “no,” as if she didn’t believe us.

“Yes, sweetie, there’s a baby in here,” I said, pointed to my belly. “You’re going to be a big sister!”

Then she began to laugh maniacally. I’m not sure what was going through her head. It’s a lot to process.

But on Saturday morning, it had definitely sunk in. She looked at my belly as soon as she woke up. “It looks smaller today.” Uh, yeah. That’s because it’s morning and not full of food.

Then she wanted to see what the baby looked like, so I found a picture of a 12-week fetus.

“Oh, cuuuuuuuutttttttie,” she said, and then decided to write the baby a note, which included an almost-4-year-old drawing of a 12-week fetus. It was lovely, if slightly inaccurate.

Later that day, she was washing her hands in the bathroom, and I was sitting on the edge of the bathtub waiting for her. She was seeing how much froth she could create between her palms when she turned to me and said, “I’m excited for the baby, but I’m a little scared.”

“Oh, what about the baby scares you?”

She began rubbing her hands together again. “Well, I’m mostly excited,” she said again, as if to reassure me, “but I’m a little scared about changing diapers.”

How serious she seems sometimes. She had been practicing putting diapers on some of her bears, but I hadn’t realized it had been a challenge or something she was worrying about.

“Oh well, don’t worry about the diapers,” I said. “I can take care of that, and you can just play with the baby, if you want.”

“Okay,” she said, and rinsed her hands.

I’d been feeling nervous about the pregnancy, and I’ve actually been very nervous about reliving those infant months, which were not easy for me the first time. But being able to share all of this with Stella has somehow made my worries fade a little. Her excitement and questions and anticipation are contagious. And again, I have that overwhelming sense of gratitude. I am so lucky I have her.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. **camera shy momma** on August 29, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    congratulations! and what a wonderful thing, that little heart beating so close to yours, and now being able to share the blessing with your little girl.

    i’ve been thinking of you and was glad to see an update! ‘oh, cuuuuutie’ she’s right! what a great big sister she will be.

    take care

  2. Melissa on August 29, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    I’m so glad to hear it! And I’m glad Stella’s so pleased. 🙂

    Now if you actually manage not to worry about anything for the next twenty weeks, I will be beyond impressed.

  3. ~Denise~ on August 29, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    Came across your blog via a Google Alert for preeclampsia I have set. I wish you the best with your pregnancy and that the PE monster stays far away. I had HELLP with my first, and PIH with the second. The second pg was quite the ride, anxietywise.

    Check out the Preeclampsia Foundation ( if you haven’t already, for some great info and research on PE.

    Best wishes!

  4. Mandy on August 30, 2007 at 4:38 am

    Great Stella stories. You know, as I watch my sister-in-law now with her second baby, she seems so much more confident, and, as a result, so much more as if she is enjoying motherhood. I don’t mean she enjoys the second kid more, necessarily – just that it’s interesting to see how 3 1/2 years has changed her.

  5. Gaijin Mama on August 30, 2007 at 6:25 am

    When my twins were smaller, I often thought it would be great – and so much easier – if they had an older sister. I envy you a little.

  6. moonlight ambulette on August 30, 2007 at 9:49 am

    wha wha wha what?! um, congratulations! i am so excited and happy for you!

  7. kate on September 1, 2007 at 7:58 am

    Thanks everyone! I know Stella will probably have moments of wanting to send the baby back after it arrives, but for now she’s told me she will be “my biggest helper,” which is so great.

  8. Jen_miracles on September 1, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    Congratulations on the new pregnancy! Very glad I found your blog. I had 2 preemies, both due to preeclampsia, and am enjoying reading your thoughts on the topic.

    I’m also a founder of a support group for PE survivors. Come join us if you’d like, at and best wishes for a long healthy and PE-free pregnancy.