Elegy for Amy

Minefield January 31, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 4:45 pm

I’m 20 weeks tomorrow. I have my 20 week OB appointment tomorrow. This is the last doctor’s appointment I had while still pregnant, last time. 20 weeks, and then I didn’t make it to 24. I wish I was less fixated on dates, but it’s hard not to fixate on this one. On all of the ones coming up.

Four weeks from today, I plan to be the most pregnant I have ever been, 23 weeks and 6 days. But in between now and then is a minefield.

20 weeks: My last OB appointment. My last healthy ultrasound. The last time I got to see our baby and feel joy and excitement. The day I started to really relax and enjoy this time.

20 weeks, 5 days: This was the day I woke up with a lot of cramping and pain, followed standard orders to put my feet up, rest, and drink a lot of water. I had no idea this wasn’t just normal pregnancy pain (and no reason to think anything else), but in reality this was probably the beginning of everything. Continued in milder fashion for most of that week.

22 weeks, 2 days: This was the day I had one strong, painful, actual noticeable contraction. I was an idiot and had been led to believe this could be Braxton-Hicks, not actual contractions. Particularly when it didn’t happen again, I thought nothing of it.

22 weeks, 4 days: Probably oh-so-related to the above, this is the day the “copious discharge” began. That I called the nurse about, who told me it was likely normal. Because there still wasn’t really any reason to think anything different. It continued all week, and I felt crappier every day, until…

23 weeks: This was the night I started having contractions, except I had no idea they were contractions. They just felt like cramps. They weren’t.

23 weeks, 1 day: Contractions 25 minutes apart. Called the doctor, and still thought I was overreacting (since I didn’t know they were contractions). This is the day I was hospitalized, told I was already 2 cm dilated and in labor, put upside down on hospital bedrest and on magnesium in a desperate hope to save Amy. This was also the day we named her. And on this day, we still foolishly believed things would be okay, one way or another.

23 weeks, 3 days: The day my water broke. The day we started realizing we might not be bringing her home.

23 weeks, 5 days: The day our daughter was stillborn. The day she was born, the day she died, the day our pregnancy ended. The most pregnant I’ve ever been. 3 weeks and 6 days from now.

If I can just get to 4 weeks from now, maybe I’ll feel like I can breathe, again. Until then, it’s all white knuckles and high hopes and attempts to distract myself with things that don’t matter. And reveling in every single kick, even when they’re uncomfortable, even when they’re distracting, just keep kicking in there, baby.

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19w1d January 27, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 4:12 am

We did it. Had our 19 week ultrasound yesterday and everything looked fantastic, not least of all my cervix.

Going in to this, I was the most nervous I’ve been yet. I feel like we are officially In It, that time that is so close to the time where we lost Amy, that time where every day matters and every day drags onnnnnn and onnnnnn. That time where I still don’t know if I get to keep this baby.

Earlier in the week, I had what felt like the briefest of contractions. Or rather, it felt not like what I’d ever imagined a contraction would feel like, but it felt like they did last time, except shorter, less severe. It lasted maybe a second, and I had a few more Braxton-Hicks versions over the next hour or two, and then, nothing. No other symptoms, nothing terribly alarming, but I was alarmed.

So I was almost surprised, Friday, when the ultrasound revealed not only that my cervix is still firmly closed, but also that it is long, even a bit longer than it was two weeks ago, which means the progesterone shots are doing their job.

So, 19 weeks and a clean bill of health. I wish it didn’t feel so much like dodging a bullet, but it does. My next ultrasound will be the latest ultrasound I’ve ever had. Last time, we had a 20 week appointment and ultrasound, and everything was fine, and my next appointment was scheduled for 24 weeks. Except I never did get to 24 weeks. My appointment was the day after she died. So this feels like a big time, every time, right now. It also feels like time I’m getting back, because there was a 50/50 chance of my ending up on bedrest from 16 weeks on. Well, barring any disastrous complications, now we’re up to at least 21 weeks without it. I’ll take every non-bedrested week I can get.

And I continue to try to force myself to behave like a normal pregnant person. Accumulating things, here and there. Enough that we’re considering a small piece of furniture in which to store it. And every time I’m in a store, holding a wee tiny T-shirt, I am embarrassed when someone walks past, and then I realize, this is what normal people do. No one thinks it’s weird to see a visibly pregnant woman buying baby clothes – nobody but me.

And then there is NewBaby. I am so in love with this tiny person already. And I know it’s all projection at this point, but he seems silly, carefree. He is so different from his sister. Is it weird, how glad I am of that? These two so clearly different babies, it’s easier, somehow. Our doctor gave us this amazing profile shot, the clearest ultrasound profile shot I’ve ever seen. You can see his tiny lips and his little chin and a shadow of a nose. I can’t wait to hug this tiny creature. Or actually, I can wait, until June, please.

 

18w0d January 18, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 6:24 pm

My countdown calendar says NewBaby is now the length of a dinner fork, and weighs 7 ounces. But he weighed 7 ounces last week, so, who knows? Regardless, at some point between last Friday and this Friday, I’ve transitioned from occasionally feeling some baby-like flutters to getting rather noticeably thumped 82 times a day. It’s kind of bizarre to have someone hitting you *from the inside* and the person you’re talking to has no idea anything out of the ordinary is happening.

This pregnancy feels like it is dragging on so slowly, in part because of where I’m at, in my personal danger zone – time seems to be practically standing still. I go from excitable optimism to dreary pessimism to hope to “god, how many more weeks of this again?” probably ten times a day. I’m 18 weeks today, which means it’s just less than 6 weeks until I’m more pregnant than I’ve ever been. 6 weeks seems like tomorrow, but it’s also so far away. And it’s not even that big of a milestone, gestationally.

18 weeks today also means it’s time for my next P17 shot! The injection excitement is never-ending with this pregnancy. These are different from my Lovenox shots – in some ways easier, in some ways worse – but most notably I have to go to the doctor to get them. There is a nurse there who is possibly the best injecter I’ve ever had, so I cross my fingers every week that I get her. They aren’t so bad except that the day after I get them, I get irrationally angry and moody, which is fun for everyone around me. The first one was the worst, last week’s was much better, so I’m hoping perhaps by this week or next it won’t really bother me so much. Most people I’ve found discussing them online said that particular side effect improved a lot 3 or 4 weeks in.

18 weeks down, 20 weeks to go. Every day I’m not on bed rest or in the hospital is a lucky one.

 

17w2d January 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 1:04 am

I did something a little crazy yesterday. I went shopping. For baby clothes.

Actually, it wasn’t crazy at all, but it was crazy for me. Being a pregnant dead baby mom is kind of an exhausting role. And for one glorious hour, I wasn’t. I was just a normal pregnant woman, full of excitement and innocence.

I have bought baby items before. I even bought a onesie for this particular baby, Thanksgiving weekend. But even that little token of optimism, even that isn’t normal, because normally babies live, and babies who live need way more than one outfit. And normal pregnant women love buying baby clothes rather than thinking that everyone is staring at them thinking they are a fool for counting their chickens.

So I took the gift card my mother sent me for Christmas, and I drove to the department store where they were having a giant sale, and I bought baby clothes. Precious short-sleeved onesies featuring alligators and dinosaurs. The cutest newborn-size monkey hoodie. A pair of wee madras shorts and a robot T-shirt. Twelve outfits in all, in sizes from newborn to 12 months.

Don’t get me wrong – it was terrifying at times. But mostly? Mostly, it was so much fun. Mostly, it was freedom from the fear that this baby won’t be coming home, either. It felt like taking a stand.

And really, you should see how ridiculously cute this stuff is.

 

16w3d January 7, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 5:56 pm

Sometimes I re-read these posts and I feel a little dishonest. Not that they’re not true; they’re a snapshot of that moment. But they’re so mostly positive. So “it’s not so bad.” And that’s true, but it’s also not. I’m trying to think positively, to feel positively, to BE positive, because when I’m not, I end up thinking of this new baby, this new tiny son, and remembering how it felt to hold his tiny sister, looking at her perfect face – dead. If I think about it too much, I don’t know how to get through the day, so I just Focus On The Positive.

It’s not dishonest, it’s just not the whole story.

What’s the whole story? Well, for one thing, pregnancy kind of sucks. In general, but for me especially. And I hear so often how I handle it with things like “grace” or “strength,” and I want to say no, no, I DON’T. I just have to. I have to tell myself it doesn’t totally suck because otherwise how do I wake up tomorrow and do this all again? Daily injections. Weekly injections. Feeling bruised and sore and battered, anxious about every twinge or cramp or what’s on the toilet paper. Wanting to have a full-on tantrum every time the doctor wants to take blood for something. I go to the doctor every.single.week. The most annoying commute, the parking garage fee, the tedious hour long wait (because it is apparently impossible for my OB practice to be anything resembling on-time). And the worry. Every time they take a cervical measurement, check for a heartbeat, every time, I can’t breathe again until they say it looks okay. Looks good.

And the second trimester is not a kind place for me. Oh, you worry in the first, most people do, but it’s nothing compared to the second. Not for me. I feel like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Every day that goes by is agonizingly slow. I want to go to sleep and wake up on March 1st, with a 24 week old baby. Still on the inside.

I worried, last time. I had the 24 week mark in my mind. But then I got to 20 weeks, and I felt great, and the baby looked great, and the weeks began to pass, and soon it was 22 weeks, and soon it was like, gee, I’m practically there! Look how well this is going! I’m practically to 24 weeks! Why keep worrying?¬†And then the world came crashing down, 6 days shy of 24 weeks. Our daughter, dead, 2 days shy of 24 weeks. And a sheet full of statistics suggesting that those 2 extra days might not have meant as much as I was led to believe, anyway.

So now, no week is safe. 23 weeks and 6 days, not close enough. 24 weeks isn’t even really viability, not to me, not anymore. To me viability is, the doctors stop asking you if you want them to try to save the baby. The doctors stop assuming something will be horribly wrong. 28 weeks. I’ll accept nothing less. And how I feel, lately, is that I have already been at this for so many days, and it’s still SO many more days until any of this even matters. I can keep going every day for the next 7 weeks and 2 days, and it won’t matter. 28 weeks is still so far away. I’m exhausted and kind of worn down, probably more by the thought of having been here before and failing so colossally than from any of the actual medical stuff.

And most of the time, I think, of course this baby will live. OF COURSE he will. Babies aren’t supposed to die, and one should far exceed one couple’s quota for a lifetime. Doesn’t always, though. And I know it. In the back of my head, I know that losing Amy doesn’t protect me from losing this new baby, but most of the time I just pretend that’s not true, because otherwise you can’t do it. You can’t try again, you can’t get pregnant again, you can’t get up every morning and be pregnant again, if you don’t honestly believe that one way or another you are bringing this one home. I really need this baby to live, so I tell myself he will. And I make baby registries and make plans for next year with a baby and buy onesies and name the baby and all the while all I’m really trying to do is ignore the thoughts in the back of my head, the horrible what-ifs. I can’t what-if this. I can’t even acknowledge that a what-if exists.

So I guess, if we’re telling the whole story, right now I’m surviving more than anything else, and faking it ’till we make it. Or at least until we get to 28 weeks, when I’ll feel like I can breathe again, maybe. Maybe just a little.