That is today.
According to various online experts (parroting stuff taken from various printed book experts), the baby is about 10.5" inches long and weighs about 13 oz. Baby is gaining weight steadily, adding insulation for birth. Baby is swallowing several ounces of amniotic fluid per day, kidneys are processing it, the digestive system is beginning to produce meconium, and taste buds are forming. The uterus is now level with the belly button (or just above, in my case) and baby should be moving a fair amount, though how much one feels the movement depends on the location of the placenta and where the baby is located.
Many people think of this as the half-way point in pregnancy, and celebrate being half-baked.
I look at this and realize it's the week I've been dreading all along.
Hand me a paper bag?
I'm torn between wanting to be at work, where the avalanche of back-log threatens to topple, and only the business staff are present. There is plenty to choose from, plenty that needs to be done before we go on break for a week. And there are plenty of people with less to do who wish they were on vacation and therefore plenty of conversations to be had. So - distraction aplenty.
But I'd also rather be in the waiting room at my doctor's office, you know, just in case. No, I won't disturb anyone, I'll just watch the fishes and gaze out the window, if that's all right. Maybe go down to the hospital cafeteria for lunch, since it's only three floors from the antepartum unit. Nice and close by, if it's needed.
Half of me is busy trying to finish up Christmas things - all of DH's family's gifts must be wrapped to go with BIL on Wednesday night (which means we need to make a pit-stop for some chocolate and gift-cards for the sisters-in-law). All of my family's gifts need to be wrapped and cards sent to my grandmother and my sister. I haven't purchased one single item for my husband, for his stocking or his gifts, though I've been informed that he's perfectly happy to wait until after Christmas, if it's easier. The house still needs massive cleaning and I've promised to bake banana bread and make fudge for the office, and we've got a happy hour Wednesday night, and did I mention we're hosting my brother and SIL and mother for Christmas Eve, so there is a menu to be fleshed out, shopping to be done and preparations for Christmas dinner to be started?
And all of it leading up to Christmas Eve - which is, incidentally, 20w5d. In case that isn't wholly clear, 20w5d is the gestational day at which I went into labor and delivered Gabriel.
I have never wanted so much for a week to be over.
And this is just one more milestone - granted, it's a big one. The biggest yet. But it's only of small relief to pass it, because we are still four weeks (as of today) from viability. We need more time yet, and I feel wild for it to be here already. The thoughts swirl darkly in the back of my mind that we will pass this weekend - after all, why shouldn't we? - and get to 21 or 22 or 23 weeks only to have something go wrong before that salvation of a day at 24 weeks. And won't that taste be bitter in my mouth?
There is no relaxing, no relief, no lowering of the guard, not yet. No matter how often I repeat the mantra "This is a different pregnancy, this is a different baby. We've done everything we can do to keep baby safe." It rings hollowly. They are only words until this baby is safely in my arms, breathing and alive and with the promise of coming in that same state.
And the knowledge that 24 weeks isn't a magical marker at which all problems vanish is there. I cling to that date, but I am aware of the real statistics. I know the outcomes, and I know that babies still die, that there are still very real and present risks, and longterm complications, and so I am not content with that date either. But at the least, that gives us a chance.
But to get there, we have to first get through here, through this week.
It's going to be a long week, particularly when it's so hard to breathe evenly and not let my heart race away in panic.