24w0d: Milestones

July 28, 2009

There are all sorts of milestones that infertiles and babylost mamas mark (celebrate? cling to? white-knuckle their way to?). Milestones that regular fertile pregnant women don’t even know exist. While they’re counting months or trimesters, we’re marking a different set of dates.

  • ~5 days past ovulation: implantation, hopefully
  • ~9 days past ovulation: HGC may be detected by the more sensitive urine pregnancy tests (unless implantation was late, oh please G-d let the negative be because of late implantation and not what it always is)
  • ~3 weeks past ovulation: gestational sac can be detected by ultrasound
  • ~3.5 weeks past ovulation: fetal pole can be detected by ultrasound
  • 4-5 weeks past ovulation: heartbeat can be detected by ultrasound

Up until this point, many regular pregnant women don’t know they’re pregnant. We already have baby photos.

  • 8-10 weeks gestational age: heartbeat can be detected by doppler, meaning that those who get a doppler for home use can listen as often as they like to confirm that their baby is still alive
  • 18-20 weeks gestation: quickening, or feeling fetal movement, meaning that there are periodic indications from the baby saying, “Hey, I’m still alive! And I don’t care for orange juice!”

From here, some infertile pregnant women relax. But some, especially those who have higher risk pregnancies, have histories of loss, or worry a lot, keep on counting.

  • 20 weeks gestation: theoretically the halfway point of pregnancy, but for those of us who aren’t expected to make it to 40 weeks, the point at which people tell us it’s halfway and we make a face; also, depending on who you ask, the transition point between miscarriage and stillbirth
  • 22 weeks gestation: the cusp of viability, or the time at which a baby born can have a chance of life (only actually achieved by a few of those record-setting babies); this isn’t one that I’ve heard other bloggers talk about, but it’s one that I’ve had in my mind all along… I thought I’d feel better when I reached 22 weeks, but I didn’t
  • 24 weeks gestation: viability, or rather, the time at which a baby born will have a 50/50 shot at living
  • 28 weeks gestation: survival quite likely
  • 34 weeks gestation: if born, lungs may be developed enough to function without major intervention
  • 38 weeks gestation: full term for singletons; for many of us, a shangri-la

Regular pregnant women may be counting the days until they can get that baby out of their body (and meet their child), but we are trying to keep them in as long as possible, one day at a time.

My bloggy friend Carrie, who is pregnant with triplets (from a two-embryo transfer), has made a countdown calendar to 24 weeks. The dates of her own milestones are burned into her brain.

I always know the exact count for the current day. I get strange looks when people ask how far along I am and instead of “5 months” they get answers like “23 weeks 3 days!” But unlike Carrie, I can’t tell you the dates of any future milestones without consulting the calendar. All I know is today. There are no guarantees tomorrow, but today, things are okay. 

Some of those milestones shouldn’t be as big a deal as they are to me, because they are still pretty bleak — and also, there’s no reason at this point to believe that we won’t make it all the way (or as close to all the way as twins tend to go). But still, the milestones matter. Today I am 24 weeks, and that matters a lot. As much time as I may spend worrying about tomorrow, and a hundred tomorrows after that, for today, this is enough.


15 Responses to “24w0d: Milestones”

  1. Oh, yay. That makes me so happy. You’re right, there always is tomorrow. But for today – *today* is a big deal!

    I’ve chatted with another babyloss mom about this – all I want is to get to 28 weeks. Well, 24 is my first goal. Then 28 would be heaven. Anything past that – unimaginable.

    Congratulations on today 🙂

  2. Carrie Says:

    Congratulations on 24 weeks! I am THRILLED for you and the twins.

    Your observations are, as ever, quite accurate. I knew all of those dates you mentioned with this pregnancy and with my daughter, I was blissfully ignorant. Our histories of loss, struggle and our riskier pregnancies seem to transform some of us into day-counting, calendar-making women.

    I am so glad you saw my calendar. The tearing off of each sheet to reveal one day closer has been very therapeutic for me. I am making one for Michele (http://mylifeafterloss.blogspot.com/), who is on strict hospital bed rest, and has a terrible history of loss, hoping to help brighten her days a bit.

    Again, congrats, and keep on taking it one day at a time… it is working! 🙂

  3. Jennifer Says:

    Lovely post – congrats on reaching the 24w milestone.

    One day at a time! ; )

  4. Lavender Luz Says:

    Congrats on this milestone, you three.

    “All I know is today. There are no guarantees tomorrow, but today, things are okay.”


  5. Kymberli Says:

    Chance lost four babies between 20 and 24 weeks. Had I been able to get pregnant for her (as a gestational surrogate, for those who don’t know me), I saw the first half of the pregnancy as being the scariest, and weeks 20-24 as being a minefield. Getting into the 25th week would have meant that that baby had lives longer than the others; it would have been a HUGE milestone. Then there would have more breath-holding until week 28 and while I know that C&A would have held their breaths until their baby was breathing in their arms, I think I could have started relaxing a little after we passed week 28.

    I can’t imagine what it must be like to have the biggest milestone of a pregnancy to be finding out if it’s a boy or a girl, as seems to be the case with most fertiles.

  6. Jules Says:


    Not much you can do but just get there a day / week at a time.

    No kidding – could have filled up an album and they weren’t even “here” yet.

    A bit naive in thought, but I had my “own” milestone to get past 27 weeks. Hubby was a 27 weeker and turned out fine (while i knew that was very lucky for him it just comforted me when we got past that)

  7. BB Says:

    Congratulations on the 24 weeks! 🙂

  8. strongblonde Says:

    i totally get you 🙂 congrats on V-day!! i think that it was here that i subconsciously stopped checking the toilet paper every single time. (i still do 90%, but now at least i feel like i don’t have to turn on the light at night when i get up) 🙂

    and you are WAY past 1/2 way… with twins they like you to go 36-38 wks max, right? so….that’s about 12 more weeks-ish. can you believe it?


  9. Congratulations on 24 weeks! I’m so happy that today is such a good day for you!

  10. katery Says:

    i am totally with you on those milestones, congrats on getting to 24 weeks, i can’t wait to be there myself, maybe then i will relax a little… ok, i won’t relax at all, but every day is a milestone for us, isn’t it?!

  11. littlesteps Says:

    Hooray for 24 weeks!!!

  12. Chickenpig Says:

    Congrats on getting to 24 weeks! When my OB told me that my twins had a 50/50 chance of surviving if born that day I said “Hush your mouth, they may hear you.”
    By 36 weeks I was begging him to take them out! May your babies stay in for many, many more 🙂

  13. Shinejil Says:

    I was thinking along the same lines today, which marks 28 wks for me. I feel that, oh, even, body, if you decide once again to pull a major fast one on my, we may be able to run resistance and get this little guy out into the world. It’s kind of nice to know that your kid/s don’t have to depend on something that hasn’t always been there for you.

    Though of course, now that I’m here, I’m anxiously hoping for Shangri-la. Or perhaps even Shambala: the curious land of 39-40 weeks.

  14. team Says:

    Congrats on 24 weeks. We counted the seconds, not days, to viability. In fact, our blog (klepsydra) is the name of a water-based time clock.

    I watched the seconds go by on the clock on the nightstand, as my wife lay and cried on the bed, thinking, “each second is one closer to finding out if this baby lives”.

    We celebrated at 37 weeks, and were convinced we’d made it. Then 38 weeks… and then the idea that we would induce became anathema, unsafe, unnecessary. A long pregnancy of counting off seconds meant it almost slipped by uncelebrated.

    So we crammed as many pictures and what-not into two weeks as we could.

    And five days ago, I sat watching the clock as seconds ticked off on my amazing wife’s contractions. And those seconds took forever, too.

    Now, I’m writing with a newborn strapped to me. It’s been five days and they move too quickly.

    I hope to all heavens that your twins come home safe.

  15. rosesdaughter Says:

    COngrats on making it to 24 weeks. I am right there with you. Most people(who don’t know about my miscarriage) think it’s strange when i can say, “I am 22 weeks 6 days.” I am counting down the days until viability. Tick tock tick tock…….

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