Not Completely Free
“And even in sleep, I was not completely free. So often sleep brought dreams of him.” -Bernard Taylor
21 weeks, 1 day. That’s the gestational age of Baby Three today. Also the same gestational age at which Nelle was stillborn. I am more pregnant today than I was with either of my two girls. I haven’t been this pregnant since late 2011, when I was carrying Quentin, even though I have spent a combined total of 58 weeks pregnant since then. During the 20-week ultrasound on Thursday, the technician told me that Baby Three weighs about 13 ounces. I looked back at Nelle’s death certificate, and because of the growth restriction, she only weighed 3.7 ounces at birth, for the same gestational age. That was a somewhat horrifying realization, when compared like that, of how serious that growth restriction was.
I have a 3D ultrasound photo from the appointment this week, clearly showing a little face: eyes, nose, cheeks. I was not given any 3D photos from Nelle’s 20-week ultrasound, where we learned of the growth restriction. I can only assume that the doctor knew that it was not going to end well, more than she let on at the time. Since I could not bring myself to look at Nelle or Iris after they were born, that 3D image is now burned in my mind as the face belonging to all three of them.
21 weeks, 1 day and I took a big pause. Last week, it was dreary and raining, but on the day of my ultrasound the sun came out and it has been bright since. On Friday, after receiving such good news that everything looks normal at this point, I found myself lighthearted. I even said a few times that day “when the baby is born” without the qualifier “if I get that far” or “if the baby is born.” But then the day turned into night, and I cannot control the thoughts that come into my head. I thought about how their hearts just stopped beating, at 21 weeks and 16 weeks. Nelle’s was probably related somehow to the growth restriction, but with Iris we had no warning. Still unexplained. What if this baby’s heart just stops beating too, for no reason, and it just hasn’t happened yet? Other than the fact that I have now made it further than the previous two pregnancies, and have none of the issues of the previous two, what assurances do I have, really, that this will not happen again? It scared me, thinking that I could lose this baby even further into pregnancy.
It would likely feel like an incomprehensible betrayal. I think that in my head, I had somehow reasoned that if I were to have another loss, that it would occur around the same time. But that may not be the case. I also learned that I have an anterior placenta, which explains why I have not felt as much movement; also not helpful in making me feel better. I have the at-home heart rate monitor I can use to give myself assurances. I used it today for a quick listen. 21 weeks, 1 day. Still beating.
All of the relief I felt after that ultrasound slowly melted away. I do not think that I am back to the paralyzing fear of before that appointment, but definitely do not have the joy that I felt on Friday. I am certain that it will be a continuum of highs and lows over the remaining and months. However long this pregnancy lasts.
The qualifier is back. But a little more cautiously hopeful than Before.