Tuesday, March 3, 2009


"This week your baby is becoming distinctly human in shape, looking less like a tadpole and more like a person."

During the past twelve months, I have read this sentence dozens of times. It is the first sentence of Chapter 3 of the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, entitled "month 3: weeks 9 to 12." I read it when I was supposed to be in Chapters 1 and 2, "weeks 1 to 4" and "weeks 5 to 8," peeking ahead to see how the little creature would transform. I also read it each time my calendar indicated that I was entering Week 9... as well as almost every night during the remaining six days of Week 9.

At this stage, the baby is "almost 1 inch long and weighs a bit less than 1/8 of an ounce." The paragraph tells me that the "embryonic tail at the bottom of your baby's spinal cord is shrinking and disappearing, and the face is more round." I scrutinize the drawing next to those words. It is a funny shaped thing. There is a strange, reptilian tail protruding out of its back. The head is large and bulbous. The rounded neck give it the appearance of an alien, and the pot belly is incongruous with its tiny but defined arms, hands, legs, and feet.

I have touched the figure drawn in the "Actual size" box to try to imagine it inside of me. I have shoved the picture in front of Jeff as he lay in bed reading some history or technical book, and watched him stare at it in fascination that it looks the way it does and that such a thing was actually there - with us in bed.

Between chapters 3 and 4, there is a place holder. I have peeked ahead a few times, like the picture in Week 17, where the page cannot afford space for an "Actual size" drawing, only a 50% reduction. But the pages in the later chapters are not nearly as worn. The first three chapters belong in a used book srore, and the following seven, at Border's.

Many chapters forward, there are other sections I am more familiar with, like the one entitled "trying again after a pregnancy loss." The section on "pregnancy loss" in the chapter on "Problems during pregnancy" is cracked at the spine, where I bent it over the xerox machine to make copies for my parents after my first miscarriage. After both miscarriages, I read those sections over and over again, as if they should explain more than the words provided, as if they answered questions that could not be answered.

This week, I find myself impatient. To rush through the remainder of Week 9 and then skip and hop over Weeks 10, 11, and 12. Another month feels unreasonably long, unnecessarily tormenting. Haven't I earned my way to Chapter 4 already?


  1. Best of luck getting all the way through this time!
    I just found out I'm pregnant again...it has been 4 months since my miscarriage. My first blood test is tomorrow and I can't think about anything else.

  2. Amanda,

    I am SO excited for you!!! Congratulations. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you. Yeah!!!! Yeah!!!

  3. Thanks so much! I'm thrilled for you, too!

  4. I just re-read that same blurb two nights ago! :D I have the same book and had just looked at the picture for the first time since getting the book several weeks ago, and showed it to my husband who was in bed websurfing.

    Tomorrow begins my week 10, so this makes me wonder, do we have the same week for our estimated due date? I hadn't realized we might be that close in timing. Mine is 10/7.

    I'm cautiously optimistic. I've told my sister just to have someone to advise me. She's had two difficult pregnancies and a miscarriage, so I trust her to give me the hard facts but also be compassionate about however things go. Plus, I love her and she loves me, so talking to her is giving me great comfort.

    Best wishes to Amanda too!

  5. Eingy, my "name sister"! We're living parallel lives. Looks like you are 4 days ahead of me. Wow, so close! I'm glad you found someone to confide in. I hope all goes well -- for all of us!

  6. Thanks to you both! I just got back from the appointment and will know results next week. One strange thing happened, though. The nurse who took my blood pressure said "everything happens for a reason" when I mentioned my previous miscarriage. Don't health professionals in this field know better than to say that? Even if I were religious (I'm not), this is NOT something I would want to hear after a recent loss. It comes off as dismissive and insensitive, regardless of how it is meant. A simple "I'm sorry" is so much better.

  7. Shinyung, reading your writing is a blissful experience. Your use of language, your flow of thought, the level of detail are all just perfect. Absolutely beautiful! You created a mood and I was drawn into it completely, and so happily, so willingly. This was masterfully done. And of course, congratulations on your progress to date! It seems that things are going well. The waiting is the hardest part...yeah...it's a cliche and it's a song because it's TRUE, so true. Keep writing posts like this one and you'll end up with a reason to be glad it took more than a couple of months. You can give birth to some fantastic writing as you wait to give birth to your beautiful child. Try to not be in too much of a hurry (ha...I'm such a hypocrite...I hated being pregnant and it seemed to take forever!)

  8. I look forward to reading that you've worn through the later months in the book.

  9. Hi. I randomly stumbled on an article about you and found my way here. I was at PHJW in LA for several years before your time. Your email was truly a work of art, and major kudos to you for having the balls to hit send. I often drafted fantasy good-bye emails in my head, but ultimately left in a very quiet and drawn out process. I still regret not being able to send out a good-bye email of some kind! I took a leave of absence to deal with ongoing infertility -- I was a major stress case which didn't seem to be helping our attempts to conceive. My leave was supposed to be three months originally, but it ultimately wound up being about 2 years before I gave birth and finally quit rather unceremoniously! While I never experienced a miscarriage, you have my profound sympathies. The whole experience is the sort that's hard for others to understand, but once you've been in it, creates a powerful sisterhood. It took us three years, far too much money, and agony I still can't describe with adequate words, but our incredible, beautiful twins made it all worth it. And I am so grateful every day to no longer be practicing law! There are aspects that were interesting, but the lack of humanity in that environment is toxic. Anyway, just wanted to say I'm impressed, and you're a great writer so I'm sure you'll do well in your new career. I sincerely hope you get to experience the joys of motherhood in about 30 weeks! Take good care.

  10. Hi, Amanda,

    Yeah, you really don't need to hear that after a miscarriage. It's kind of weird when people say such things because they seem to put themselves out as god's (or mother nature's) representative or something. A simple "I'm sorry" is great and works wonders.

    Gudnuff and Green, thanks for your comments and happy thoughts!

    Tara, so interesting to read your story. Thanks so much for taking the time to share -- I can really relate.

  11. I, too, was unceremoniously laid off, no, I was fired, from a major lawfirm. Although I deserved it. Was not for me, I never had the "you're doing a great job" because I wasn't. But, after all that education, and always being an achiever, I couldn't see that the problem was I HATED it. Did not admire or respect the partners I was supposed to emulate. All the clients were rich jerks trying to screw someone so they could get richer, or trying to get away with having screwed someone already. I felt like a whore, paid to do everyone else's dirty work. Paid well, so I had no justification for complaining. When I was fired, as traumatic as it was, it was the best thing that could have happened. It took me years, and I mean years, to figure out what to do next. I was totally lost, adrift, major depression. After being the golden girl all my life, I couldn't figure out where I fit in. So, now, here I am at 49, finally found a place where I fit in, where my personal traits are valued, where my work ethic is used for something positive, cutting-edge, enterprising, challenging and fun. I may not be making the world a better place, but at least better dressed. I have met a few lawyers in my life who are great people, but most of them truly aren't. There's a well-deserved reason people hate lawyers. Those I knew who functioned well in the adversarial process were missing a section of the humanity gene. I can turn my back on it now, but I will never leave behind the fact that I failed at it.

  12. Hi Shinyung,

    I rarely read blogs and have never posted a comment on a blog before but feel compelled to write you today. I first heard about you on Above the Law and since learning of this blog I find myself visiting frequently to find comfort in your words. We share many similarities - perhaps that is why I so enjoy your stories. Both Korean American who grew up in NYC and became attorneys at big law firms. We both had hardworking immigrant parents and married white men... I also learned today that we share a due date! Congrats to you and Jeff!

  13. Thank you Shinyung for some wonderful writing. I like many others came across your Blog via Above the Law. My fingers and toes are crossed for you to get to week 39.