Flutters. Popcorn popping. Butterflies. A little fish in a fishbowl. Gas bubbles.
These are all the things I’d read online about what it would feel like the first time I felt my baby kick. And I know that every woman experiences it differently, but I just wanted to weigh in here by sharing what I actually felt, in the hopes that it will help other first-time mamas recognize their baby’s movements, too. Because trust me… it didn’t feel like any of those things!
I remember clear as day the first time I felt it. I was only 16 weeks and some-odd days pregnant. I had to pee really bad at work, and right as I sat down to do my thing, I had the sensation of what distinctly felt like a miniature muscle twitch – like the ones you get when your muscle spazzes out for a few seconds somewhere in your body, or like an eye twitch – but really low down in my groin area and off to the left side. It was two distinct “twitches” in a row, and then it was gone.
I froze for a second because it was something I’d never felt before, but then dismissed it. I’d read that 16 weeks was too early for a first-time mom to feel any movements. But the more I thought about it, the more excited I became. So I told a few veteran moms later that day at lunch that I thought I’d felt something, and then described it as feeling like a little muscle twitch. They all looked at me with one eyebrow up, said, “Ehhhhh, I don’t think that was the baby… it doesn’t feel quite like that.” I was a little bummed, to say the least.
Well. Those “muscle twitches” only continued to get more and more frequent over the next couple of weeks. Sometimes I’d go days without feeling a single one, while other days I’d feel it a couple of times a day. (In retrospect, I suppose it was because it just depended on how the baby was positioned, since she was still so small.) I still wasn’t 100% sure that what I was feeling was the baby at all, but I figured, what the heck else could it be??
At my 19 week anatomy scan, I finally got my validation. There was a moment where the ultrasound technician was trying to get a picture of something that the baby apparently didn’t like very much, and she kicked me. At that same moment on the screen, I SAW the kick for myself happening in real time. And it felt just like all the other “muscle twitches” I had been feeling all along. Except now I knew those weren’t muscle twitches at all… they were my sweet little girl’s hands and feet! I was elated to know that my intuition had been correct. So all you moms out there… learn to trust your gut instincts!
Just a few short weeks later, my husband was able to start feeling her little kicks, too. They were still faint at first (to him), but he could feel them if he was patient enough. To this day, I still get so excited about it that I am constantly grabbing his hand and making him feel her move.
Now, at 33 weeks pregnant, her movements no longer feel like muscle twitches. Now they are very strong kicks that anyone looking at my stomach can actually see happening, even with a thick jacket on top of my belly! Sometimes she moves in just the right way that it actually tickles and makes me jump a little. Sometimes she feels like a little starfish as she stretches out and kicks/punches the insides of both my hip bone and the opposite side of my upper belly at the same time. She’s getting quite crowded in there, I’d imagine, so I can also see her moving around from side to side, rolling, and practicing ninja moves… I often wonder what the commotion is all about in there! I also jokingly tell my hubby that she is “aliening around”, because sometimes it does look like something straight out of Alien vs. Predator. I can’t fathom the fact that she still has 7 more weeks of growth left, as she continues to perform these acrobatics inside my already-stretched-to-the-max belly.
And her hiccups. Oh man. She gets them at least 4 or 5 times a day, for a few minutes at a time each round. It’s easy to tell the kicks apart from the hiccups, because the hiccups sort of feel like someone else’s heartbeat in my stomach. It’s a rhythmic, tiny, throbbing sensation that happens every few seconds. Honestly, it’s almost borderline annoying if it goes on for too long or if it happens when I’m trying to fall asleep. But then again, I am SO thankful to be able to feel her little hiccups at all. She doesn’t seem to like having them very much, especially if they go on for too long. I know this is the case because she often starts kicking me when this happens, almost as if she’s getting frustrated. So I just lightly rub my belly and try to reassure her through them until they’re over (as I’m sure I will do once she is born).
For the record, I know another first-time mom who is about 6 weeks behind me in her pregnancy. She also confirmed – without any preempting from me – that she thought she was feeling “muscle twitches” earlier on and thought it might be the baby (and as it turns out, it was). So I know I’m not the only mama out there who would describe the feeling like that. So how come I have never heard it described like that anywhere else?!
The fact that there is a little human growing… and moving around in there… ALL the time! It never ceases to amaze me. I often catch myself just staring down at my own tummy, just to watch her wriggling around. It’s so amazing. It makes my heart want to explode into a million little pieces. And it’s incredible how much she is loved already, and I haven’t even met her yet.
What did your baby’s first kicks feel like to you? Share your experience in the comments below!