I don’t know if it’s healthy or not, but I find myself spending hours every day reading babyloss blogs. I never even knew this was a blog genre before, but sadly, there are all kinds of blogs just like this one, and I can see how it looks kind of morose, but it’s also kind of comforting, in the sense that it makes you feel less crazy for thinking the things you do.
One thing that I’ve found makes our story a little different from a lot of preterm birth and stillbirth stories is how much time we had to ruminate on what could happen. To hope for what didn’t happen. Most stories of preterm labor seem to start and end in a single, horrific day. Most stories of stillbirth seem to come as the macabre surprise at the end of an otherwise happy, normal pregnancy. Ours lasted five days. I don’t think either way is easier – nothing about this is easy – and I think that having days to grieve the possible death of our daughter made the actual event less shocking. It’s also making accepting that this is done, over, final outcome determined much harder.
On Day #1, we were scared but hopeful. Our pregnancy had been normal, blissfully complication-free even with my high-risk status. We had done the right thing, arriving at the hospital within 2 hours of the start of what we didn’t realize were contractions. We were in the best place. The doctors knew what to do. We were preparing for a long, long hospital stay. On Day #2, we were downright optimistic. Labor had been stopped for 24 hours, all of my symptoms seemed to be improving. Dan even stopped by our office, picked up movies and books and snacks for me.
And even after things went south, every day, the doctors told us, hey, we don’t know what will happen. You could deliver tonight. You could be here in 2 weeks. Stranger things have happened. We actually met a woman, 33 weeks pregnant, in the MFM clinic, who had come to the hospital in the exact same situation 7 weeks prior. It wasn’t false hope; there was a legitimate chance that this wouldn’t end in the death of our daughter, and every day that chance got smaller because of what was happening to me but also bigger because we were one day closer to viability.
So now, I wake up every morning and have to remind myself that the story has concluded. There is no small shred of hope. Yes, you really have to go to the funeral home. No, this is not a test. She’s never coming home. You will never know who she would have been. You don’t get to watch her grow up. She will always be 1 lb, 6 oz, and 8 inches long. There is nothing more you can do.
One of the blogs I found was from a woman whose first story was so very close to mine, and who went on to become pregnant and have the same thing happen again. Except this time she made it, which is inspiring to me, and this time she blogged her entire experience on bedrest, trying to save her baby. I can not imagine feeling this way for 15 weeks after having lost your first baby the same way; I did it for 5 days and it was the most stressful 5 days of my life. But she made this post, which I so wholly related to:
“But really, I don’t feel like it’s worth it, until I reach AT LEAST 24 weeks. To get there, I have to pass here first. Can’t get to 24 without first passing all the weeks before it. But right now, every day I spend in bed gets me and Acorn literally nowhere. If he were born tomorrow, or the day after that, or hey even next week or the week after that…we’d be in the same place as we were today. Acorn would still die. He might die a little heavier or more obviously ‘baby like’, but he’d still be dead. My husband and I would still be two time baby lost parents. And there are a lot of days of bed rest, a lot of hours of pain and suffering and waiting between now and “hope”. And even then at 24 weeks, hope is small.”
It’s much more eloquent, but this is essentially what I said to Dan on Monday night. I had been upside down in bed for 4 days. Imagine trying to use the bathroom lying prone in bed at a 15 degree incline. Have you tried to eat food, actual food, while in an inverted position? It’s impossible. After 3 bites, the heartburn is so bad you just ask for a milkshake. But you know you have to eat, and drink, because your baby needs you. The magnesium made it impossible to focus, or watch tv, or read, or do anything other than lie there cringing at the lights. My hips were already sore from lying there, unable to even sit up, for 4 days. I was worried about getting a blood clot or a pulmonary embolism from the inactivity. I would wake up from my magnesium “naps” craving nothing more than a simple walk to the toilet. And I said to him, I will do this for as many more weeks as I have to, I HOPE I HAVE TO DO THIS FOR ANOTHER MONTH. But if I’m just going to go into labor in the next few days anyway, I wish I could just stop, because this is pointless. She’ll die anyway.
And she did. And pointless it was, except that I know in my heart of hearts that there is absolutely nothing else I could have done. That I really was willing to do literally anything to save her. And I guess that’s something, but to be honest, it ain’t real much.