Laying on my back, I held my breath while 1 million thoughts rushed through my head.
Anxiety was taking over Thursday in the dimmed hospital room, and my husband gently laid his hand on my shoulder while I glanced up at the monitor.
What I heard next was exactly what I had been waiting months to hear.
"Look at your baby move!" the ultrasound technician said.
A flood of emotions took over at that point. It's been a long road to Baby but this is finally happening. Zach and I are going to be parents in the fall. I felt all of the anxious thoughts melt out of my body as we watched our little baby somersault in the womb. It's all becoming so real.
Throughout this pregnancy, I've learned something very important about love and myself: Love at first sight exists.
I never thought it could be, but at just a few weeks along last winter, Zach and I had the chance to see the first glimpse of our baby - just a grey gummy bear on the monitor with a distinct, fluttering heartbeat.
Although our baby only looked like a tiny bubble, I felt a surge of love I have never been able to describe, and then I started envisioning what Baby would look like, what it would be like to hold him or her and how our lives are about to change in magnificent ways.
Although the technician wasn't able to tell us the gender, just seeing the baby move around was enough for me. We watched as he/she stretched each limb out and covered the eyes with a little fist. And the flickering heartbeat could be seen again, settling my fears "for one more day," my husband teases.
It's true. I'm a worrier. I have yet to feel Baby move so I often wake Zach in the middle of the night asking him if he thinks everything is OK in there. Once a month, we are able to hear the heartbeat, which settles my nerves for the rest of the day, but it never lasts. I think every parent wants their kids to be OK.
We don't even have a preference for gender but hope for a happy, healthy baby. Although we couldn't tell much from the ultrasound, we watched her take measurements here and there. I suppose we'll have to wait to find out if it's healthy but I'm just excited to get to that moment we can meet.
I can honestly say pregnancy has been smooth sailing so far. Halfway through, I feel great. Besides a bout of nausea in the first trimester, this pregnancy has been so awesome - I can safely say I could be pregnant forever.
While taking all the necessary precautions, we've also been prepping for Baby Kukkonen's arrival. Mom (who seems overjoyed, considering I'm nearing the end of my 20s) has spent years collecting baby clothes and items for us. Baby K will never have to wear anything twice, we joke, and Zach and I have been busy reading every pregnancy guide ever published.
I also find when you tell people you're expecting, the horror stories began rolling in. I've heard some doozies throughout the last five months (perhaps some that should be shared with teenagers to scare them away from getting pregnant), but I'm excited for this new journey.
After all, I'm doing something much bigger than myself now. I'm giving life to someone else and it's going to be an interesting ride.
Stacey Kukkonen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.