I meant to post this earlier, but then I had a whirlwind week of exhausting work travel and have basically been comatose since then. Here’s to no more travel until the second trimester!

We had our first prenatal appointment at the birthing center right before I hit ten weeks. Although I felt my normal anxiety about being in the presence of medical professionals (a lifelong phobia), I was immediately comforted by the different approach to my care. First, I got to weigh myself! According to their scale, I was up two pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, but I think that was mostly from the clothing and post-lunch timing. They also handed me a copy of the pregnancy edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves–awesome!

The midwife spent more than an hour with us, and for the first 45 minutes, I got to stay dressed. There’s nothing worse than meeting with a doctor for the first time and feeling the extra vulnerability of being naked under a thin paper gown with an opening down the front. The midwife wasn’t particularly warm in personality, but very knowledgable and thorough in her questions. I liked how they screened for things like having a support system and a safe living situation. The questions made me realize how privileged I am. From genetic testing to diet to birth plans, the information was overwhelming in terms of volume, but everything was written in a notebook that they gave us to look at later.

Once it came time for the pelvic exam, I felt sort of shy having my husband in the room and made him turn around when I got undressed. I don’t know why, but it was already such a vulnerable process that I needed some semblance of privacy, even from my husband. I mean, when else is there someone else in the room with you during something so exposing? I guess the obvious answer to that would be birth. Anyway, we got through the exam, and then came time to listen for the heartbeat. She did share that because I was not ten weeks, we might not be able to hear it. But as soon as she put the Doppler on my belly, within seconds we heard the sweet, miraculous “whoosh whoosh whoosh” sounds of our peanut’s heart beating away like a champ.

I wasn’t prepared for what a pivotal, emotional moment that would be. I guess for six weeks, I sort of knew that I was pregnant, but I didn’t have anything affirming that there really was a creature inside of me. In the back of my mind, I always knew that things wouldn’t work out. But as soon as we heard that noise, I had the simultaneous feelings of relief and panic–we are really going to be responsible for another human being’s survival and growth. But the overwhelming emotion was a the feeling of awe and wonder. That was the moment when everything became real.