I find it hard to explain to people how I feel as I look forward into the next days, weeks, months.
I cannot imagine my boy being born alive.
I cannot imagine having to arrange another cremation.
I cannot imagine that I will hold him in my arms, alive.
I cannot imagine that I will hold him in my arms, dead.
* * *
I know that statistically speaking the odds are we will bring him home with us sometime in late April or early May.
I can’t quite believe in these odds. And I don’t think this is pessimistic of me. When I went for my NST on Monday, I noticed that the reason noted for the test was “Poor Obstetric History.” I know this refers primarily to Anja’s stillbirth, but in my opinion, my entire obstetric history is pretty damn poor. Prior to this pregnancy I have had three miscarriages, one stillbirth, and one emergency c-section due to fetal distress. Not the worst obstetric history ever, I know, not by a long shot, but nothing really to write home about, either.
I will never equate the trauma of E’s birth with the trauma of pregnancy loss or infant death, but it was still a trauma. When I went into the hospital because she wasn’t moving, the doctors determined she was in distress and started an induction. Before I’d had a single contraction, maybe 15 minutes after they’d started the oxytocin, her heart rate dropped to 40 bpm and did not come back up. Lights and alarms were flashing, doctors came running, I was prepped for surgery while I was being wheeled into the operating room, told to hold as still as I could on a moving bed while they rushed the spinal, IV lines for the induction ripped out unceremoniously and R shoved to the side not because anyone there lacked compassion but because everyone was focused on saving my baby. E did not die, but she very well could have. She was, according to the nurses and doctors present at her incredibly speedy delivery, a ‘miracle baby.’
Instead of recognizing the fear I have been left with after E’s birth, many people want to remind me that I have delivered a living child, to reassure me through reference to her birth. You have one that lived, the reasoning goes; you can do it again. In this world, the world where babies die, the fact that E lived sometimes seems to cancel out the fact that she almost didn’t, that if I hadn’t gone into the hospital when I did, she might have been my first dead baby. I have trouble understanding why this fact is trivialized now. So little separates what happened to E and what happened to Anja, except that with E, I arrived at the hospital in time for something to be done. With Anja, I was too late.
And I will always, always wonder why, when I knew so much, when I had already come so close, I did not go to the hospital in time to save A. There is a part of me that is quite sure that there was no time for me to have done so, that when I noticed she was not moving, it was already too late. But another part of me will always wonder: why why why? How could you have saved one, let one die? Rationally, I know that that is not what happened. I didn’t really save E and I didn’t let A die. Still. But. Nevertheless.
And now I torture myself: will I save him or let him die?
I am realizing as I get closer and closer to the end how important it is for me to recognize the fear I have been left with after E’s birth and to have others recognize it, too. I don’t know how to trust that my body won’t kill this baby when its record is so ‘poor.’ I know E is here, happy, healthy, incredible. But in this state, these days, I need people to also understand why her birth does not help me feel that I ‘can do it!’ again.
* * *
I walk around like a normal pregnant woman and most people I know assume I am doing fine, would never guess at the depth of the fear, at the way I feel like a ticking time bomb. Waiting waiting waiting. Kick. Kick. Kick. Tick. Tick. Tick.