“We must try not to sink beneath our anguish… but battle on.” -Albus Dumbedore, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
In almost every SHARE meeting, it comes up: the innocence of pregnancy has been stolen from us. There are no “normal” appointments. There are no “easy” conversations about how we feel. I open the Baby Center app installed on my phone to do kick counts and I see the cute drawings of plump babies, or the smiling, leisurely photos of women. I have contempt for their complacency and cringe when I read about pregnancy complaints. I can barely allow myself to have any complaints of my own, without feeling guilty. The final few weeks should be excitement; instead, still fear, anxiety, and pragmatic planning.
My appointment this morning with Maternal Fetal Medicine was another internal battle. It was an appointment that I knew I would have to force myself through, more than previous appointments. My regular MFM doctor was out of the office, so the appointment was scheduled with the doctor who confirmed that Nelle had no heartbeat… who confirmed that Iris had no heartbeat… who did the amniocentesis for Nelle when we realized that she was growth restricted. I have had no appointments with this doctor with positive outcomes. As the nurse took me back into the exam room, she said “I wanted to let you know that the doctor knows that this might be a difficult appointment for you, because of your past appointments with her. She wants you to know that she is thinking of you.” It was such a caring, compassionate moment: one that has been absent from many of my appointments where the nurse or doctor seems oblivious to my history. The ultrasound was fine, growth was fine; heart, blood flow, placenta, and amniotic fluid all were normal. The doctor came in and said that when she saw my name on her patient list that she was so happy to see us there, at 34 weeks, and with everything looking good.
I later had a meeting with a co-worker; one I had intentionally never told that I was pregnant. Now that my medical leave has been announced, I anticipated that a question might arise during the meeting, to which I was prepared to say “I don’t want to to talk about it.” However, he opened with “I heard through the grapevine, and it sounds like congratulations are in order!” I sidestepped, and responded that I haven’t wanted to say anything because of my history, and that it has been stressful but I am being monitored carefully and everything has been fine so far. He asked if we knew the gender and I said that we do, but have not been sharing that information since we just want a healthy baby. His response? “I’m sure it will be fine… everything happens for a reason, right?”
I said nothing for a long time. In my head, I was saying “No, I don’t believe that. There is no good reason that my babies died. And what would be the reason for a negative outcome for this pregnancy, at this point?” I don’t even know how I was able to pull myself out of that moment; I think I may have stumbled through saying “Mmmm… well, not much time left now” or something generic like that.
Win some, lose some. Made it through the appointment and came out feeling pretty good, only to have my spirit crushed a few hours later. Constantly battling offense and defense, expected and unexpected. Armor up.