I assumed that by 18 weeks along, I'd be looking fairly pregnant. I imagined wearing maternity dresses and rubbing a big belly. The books I'd been reading promised me that I would surely be in maternity wear or at least loose-fitting clothing by the time I was four months along. But in my case, everyone kept telling me, "Wow, you aren't even showing, yet!" When I went for blood work around my 16th week, the phlebotomist guessed that I was only a couple weeks pregnant. When I told a friend I hadn't seen in a while about my pregnancy and upcoming ultrasound, she said, "So, you're almost 8 weeks!" "Um, no, not 8, 18," I corrected her. I kept thinking about buying maternity clothes, but how do you know what to buy before you need it? What will fit me? Do I buy my size or the next size up? So many questions!
Speaking of questions, I've learned that "How far long are you?" "How are you feeling?" "When are you due?" "Do you know if you're having a boy or a girl?" and "Have you felt the baby yet?" are the most frequently asked questions for pregnant women. That last question was something that stayed on my mind.
Most of what I read assured me that during a first pregnancy, one often doesn't feel the baby as soon as in subsequent pregnancies. While I am not prone to panic, I was starting to feel uneasy, especially since people kept telling me stories about how soon others had felt their babies move and commenting about how I hadn't gained much weight. Despite assurances that once I'm waddling around in unflattering sack dresses, I'll wish I still wasn't showing, I was anxious. I wanted to feel pregnant. At this point, with an extra 10 pounds or so, I just felt fat.
I tried to relax about everything. I reassured myself that I would get to see the baby soon at my 20-week ultrasound, and I needed to just wait it out until then. At 18 weeks and 6 days I was having mild tugging pains in my abdomen that meant my uterus was stretching. I kept readjusting my position and rubbing my stomach in an effort to ease the mild discomfort. And then all of a sudden, it happened! I felt something very different. I thought, Wow, wait, what was that? As it happened again, I knew it was the baby. I had just felt my baby for the first time! It was like little butterfly flutters coming from the inside. And just like that, I felt pregnant. The baby is real. There's somebody in there! I've begun to talk to my baby to form a connection. I’m still on my way to looking more pregnant, but right now, feeling pregnant is a very special experience.