October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. There's all sorts of initiatives in the BLM community right now, like the Capture Your Grief project where every day you respond to a prompt through photography and writing. I can't seem to get into it. I find my friends' posts hard to read.
It's hard to balance the grief for Lydie and the hope for Bowie.
I want Bowie to get here alive so I can get back to concentrating on my grief.
I realized the other day that I haven't been able to look at photos of living babies since Lydia was stillborn. But pictures of stillborn babies? I look at them all the time.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that
Birth announcements have really gotten to me lately. These are friends that got pregnant right after Lydie died. I was upset when I heard their pregnancy announcements; I felt like they didn't think what happened to me would happen to them. And now, nine months later, their babies are being born ALIVE and it's not that I wanted their babies to die, but it bothers me that they were right. What happened to me didn't happen to them. And they get to keep their perfect little families and their invincibility.
Instead of being a reminder that usually babies live, it's a trigger of what I'll never have.
We are one week away from the amniocentesis. If we make it one more week, my MFM will be putting a (giant) needle through my skin to reach my uterus to pull out amniotic fluid and test Bowie's lung maturity.
October 12. 11 am. (I wanted to schedule it earlier but the MFM told me he's not a morning person.)
I will be 37 weeks and 1 day pregnant.
We'll wait for results in the office, with me and Bowie hooked up to what will hopefully be our final NST.
If Bowie passes, we'll go in for a c-section that evening. I could have a living, breathing baby a week from today. If Bowie's results are "indeterminate," we have to wait. Wait for more labwork, more specific results. And if the results are failing, even more waiting. I have said if that's the case, they may have to send me to the psych ward. With the NST equipment, of course.
So we're close. In the early stages of this pregnancy, my therapist urged me to try to take things day by day, but sometimes, sometimes look towards the next milestone. (And ironically, while I probably need my therapist more than I ever have... she has been out of the office for the last two months... on maternity leave).
The next milestone is clearly the amnio and then delivery.
And I so don't want to think about it. And yet it's all I can think about.
Every minute, every hour, every day, we are closer. Every minute, every hour, every day, this feels more high-stakes, more scary.
I remind myself that I've been pregnant for 36 weeks and 1 day. Add in Lydia, and I've been pregnant for 70 weeks and 1 day. I can do one more week. I can do one more week. I can do one more week.
And then I think, oh my God, please, please, please pass that amnio.
I think about the possibility of passing the amnio and delivering a living Bowie one week from today. I imagine her screaming after she is sliced out of me. I cut the vision short, I tell myself that would be too good to be true.
And then I wonder: after all we have been through, would I really consider that too good to be true? I am so set up for loss that I just can't imagine things going my way.
I saw my best friend over the weekend for a short visit. I haven't been a very good friend to her in the past year but she has never been anything but patient with me. She's one of the few people I can say this about.
She asked how I'm doing.
I told her I don't know.
She said I seem like I'm doing okay.
I think I laughed.
I told her, I knew this would be hard. And it is.
It's really, really, really hard.
As a fellow blogger explained better than I can: "The only relief from the fear and worry is that it's persistence has become commonplace."
Yes. I am really used to feeling this way.
Bowie's movement has changed as she's settled in, head down. It's a fallacy that babies slow down their movement near the end. They move just as much, but the movement does feel different. For Bowie, it's been fewer jabs and more rolls. I miss the jabs, the clear indication that she was alive. I think of how I still felt Lydia rolling in my belly after she died, the amniotic fluid pushing up her bum.
I find myself using the Doppler more regularly, wanting to HEAR the movement at the same time I feel it. Even better if I can feel it from the outside as well as the in.
My OB tells me I need to stop taking the baby aspirin I've been taking since I got pregnant. It's thinning my blood, making the blood harder to clot. It's just an extra precaution, as we think the blood clot in Lydie's umbilical cord happened after she died.
I'm supposed to stop taking it so I don't bleed too much at delivery.
I don't want to. What if it's helping Bowie? What if she needs my thinner blood?
I tell my husband I'm debating continuing to take it. He raises an eyebrow. I forget he worries about me as much as he worries about Bowie.
I don't worry about me at all.
In the meantime, the car seat, swing, and bouncers sit in the basement, last used by Benjamin.
It's a really big mental hurtle to prepare to bring a baby home, when last time you prepared to bring a baby home, she came home in an urn.
And all those ways you thought you were smart to prepare were HUGE triggers of grief.
The swing and bouncers can stay in the basement, and if Bowie comes home alive with us, we'll bring them up. The car seat? I'm wondering if we can just stick in the very back of the CRV on the way to the hospital. If all goes well, Justin can figure it out while Bowie and I are in the hospital.
I am coaching myself that I will have to wash some newborn clothes and pack a hospital bag this weekend. I got as far as making a packing list for the hospital, which felt like a big step. I don't want to forget our Lydie Bear.
I am training my replacement at work this week. I tell myself that even if Bowie dies, I'm taking some sort of leave. I call it my "leave" and I cringe when I hear others refer to it as a "maternity leave." My planned maternity leave for Lydia quickly become a "medical leave" instead. My boss asks me what I've told my students about my leave, and I respond, "Do you think they've figured out I'm pregnant?" I've said nothing.
Each of these steps that I have to take, filling out HR forms or packing a hospital bag with things for the baby, feels like I'm jinxing us. Part of me asks, You think you're going to need swaddles for a dead baby?
I remind myself over and over and over again, that other women do these things too. Other women prepare, and they get to bring their babies home.
Hope never killed a baby.