When I was pregnant with Isabelle, I as SO naive that anything could go wrong. The most difficult part of that pregnancy was the waiting- after a positive test you just basically wait. Wait for the baby to grow, wait to find out the gender, wait to go into labor. Wait.
Lincoln was second and came shortly after a very early miscarriage. Even too early for a doctor’s appointment. (Was still sad though?) I ended up having a cyst removed after that and I was grateful for our loss so that we could take that cyst out before it was a bigger problem. I need my ovaries. I don’t need cysts. (Is this TMI? Possibly? If my mom was reading this she would probably die inside.)
Linc’s pregnancy was my easiest, and the delivery was so healing for me. Then when I became pregnant with Max, I felt confident. I knew what to expect, what to do, what would happen at the end. I knew how it felt to labor. I knew how it felt to have surgery. I knew how it felt to try to stand up after my insides had seen the outside. I felt prepared.
And then we lost Max. And everything I knew about medicine and ultrasounds and pre-natal care went out the window. We had done everything “by the book” and yet, an hour after birth, our beautiful little baby died.
Throw in two second trimester losses after that and the whole way I view pregnancy and childbirth has changed. Nothing feels like a sure thing.
This pregnancy has been…different. My seventh pregnancy. I have two living children. Those statistics are not great. I find myself torn between the upcoming JOY we are so looking forward to- and the anxiety of the unknown. I have been nervous every step of this pregnancy. Getting through the first trimester. Hearing the baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Waiting for the sub-chorionic hematoma to heal. Chromosome test. More ultrasounds. Then the anatomy scan and the fetal echo- all good. I’m not a very nervous person in general. Or I didn’t use to be! It is hard to plan with a series of what-ifs in the way.
And now I’m sitting here typing this, in the third trimester, feeling this kid kick and wiggle and I STILL feel like this could all go wrong at any moment. And that kind of sucks.
I miss the freedom of being blissfully unaware. That was a nice time. I miss that me just a little bit. Carefree. Setting up a nursery and labeling baskets of clothes. I’m procrastinating the baby nesty phase, buckets of onesies still in storage, blankets folded, crib in pieces. I’ll get there, I’m sure. We don’t need hardly anything at all, we had a whole dress rehearsal for our baby boy before so we are ready for the real thing.
I’m torn between wanting this baby out ASAP and wanting the baby to stay in as long as possible so his little lungs can mature. My expectations for this delivery are so different! The nicu no longer seems like such a big deal or a big obstacle to avoid. A healthy baby. A baby we can put in a car seat and bring home. That would be stellar. I don’t want to say I will appreciate this baby more than my other babies- because I really have felt grateful for every late night and every froggy shoulder hold- but I certainly realize that every perfect baby is a gift, a blessing, no matter what the circumstance.
And my grief for little Max comes and goes, like it always does. Seeing babies that are now toddlers that would be about his age. Doing cute things like being alive and eating food and waddling around the floor. Pregnancy hormones are crazy anyway, throw in the some grief and a pinch or two of sadness and it’s like whoa. Waves. I still wouldn’t change anything about his pregnancy or birth, and that is really comforting. He was perfect.
The kids sat by me today and we put my phone on my tummy and they watched as the baby wiggled and kicked that phone. Their little faces lit up when they could really see the movement. Times like these I feel SO HAPPY that I can’t help but weep with joy and a thankful heart. It’s really happening! And that’s what I am clinging to these next few months until we safely bring this baby home. Hope.
The line between life and death is just so paper thin. No more so than at birth.