As with everything related to grief or pregnancy after loss, my emotions aren’t simple. The same goes for feeling Chet move and kick in my belly. Every time I feel him move, a swirl of emotion hits my heart.
The most prominent of these emotions is relief. Every kick reminds me that he is alive. This pregnancy got significantly easier once I started feeling him move consistently. I no longer have to wait to hear a heartbeat to know he is still living. I get reassurance throughout the day. I tell Daniel when I feel him move so he can feel that as well.
It also brings back memories of Ginny. I thought that would be really painful, but it isn’t. It warms my heart to have a physical reminder of the time spent with her. After losing Ginny, I had to focus to remember the feeling of her moving. Now I get reminders every day. It makes me feel like Chet and Ginny are connected. They both have dwelled in my womb. That’s something special only the two of them share.
I am currently in this happy but helpless period of pregnancy where I can feel him move but I shouldn’t expect to feel him move often enough to track it or analyze his health because of it.
From the beginning of this pregnancy, I’ve dreaded needing to do kick counts. That usually starts around 28 weeks when baby’s movements are felt consistently enough to predict. Kick counting is when you lay on your side and literally count the number of kicks you feel in two hours. The number should be above 10. If it isn’t, you need to call your doctor.
For a low-risk pregnancy, kick counting isn’t always required, but the doctor may recommend it to get familiar with baby’s movements and if you ever feel a lack of movement. That’s what I did with Ginny. The Friday night before she died, it seemed she wasn’t moving very much. I decided to do kick counts. I laid down and immediately felt her kick. She kicked 6 times in 5 minutes, and I felt much better. She’s doing just fine, I thought to myself. No she wasn’t, but the kick counting didn’t predict that.
I ask myself if I should’ve done more kick counts or if the moving I was feeling wasn’t actually her kicking. Why didn’t I know she was in trouble? Just like the measuring tape, the heart rate monitor, and even sometimes the ultrasound, there are limitations to tools like kick counting. It may detect problems, or it may not.
My doctors haven’t talked about it yet, but I know they will ask me to do kick counts once I hit 28 weeks. I want to do them because it can give me some reassurance and it is something that I can physically do to monitor Chet. But I’m scared of being scared. I’m scared of not feeling him. I’m scared of it not being enough. I’m scared of getting obsessive about it and wanting to do kick counts around the clock. I’m scared it will trigger anxiety. I’m scared of feeling like I’m in control when I know I’m not actually in control.
Maybe it won’t be that bad. Maybe I’ll feel him so much that I won’t ever worry. Maybe I’ll just get reassurance and never have the panic. I pray that’s the case. But for the next three weeks, I’m going to enjoy this time when every kick is a relief and a lack of kick isn’t concerning.
Even when I do have to do kick counts, I don’t think the feeling of movement will lose its magic. I’ll try to embrace the special time with Chet. I’m going to keep bringing Daniel’s hand to my belly and experience the flood of emotion in bonding with our son and remembering our daughter.
“When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” Luke 1:41-44