Yesterday morning our boy gave us another scare. He wasn’t moving very much, or really at all, and R kept asking me, has he moved? Have you felt anything? It was the stress of being the only person who can answer those questions, I think, more than the lack of movement itself that sent me over the edge yesterday. The stress of being ever-vigilant, constantly monitoring, always having to report and reassure, carrying everyone’s expectations and hopes and fears; yesterday it was too much and I couldn’t bear the anxiety of waiting for him to kick. I called my mom and asked her to take me to the hospital while R watched E and she came over right away, before she’d even brushed her teeth.
As much as I wanted to be reassured about this boy, I dreaded the trip to L&D: the place where a nurse searched and searched for A’s heartbeat, where they told me she was dead, where I had to call R and tell him his daughter had just stopped living, could never be ours in the way she was meant to be.
The nurse took me right in to the only closed-in room in assessment when I told her my baby hadn’t been moving and I’d had a stillborn daughter a year ago. It wasn’t this private room where I learned that A died, but one of the four curtained beds in the main assessment room. It took a long time for the nurse to find his heartbeat, long enough for me to imagine it all over again, and then it was there and I felt him kick again and he passed another NST with flying colours. The nurse hugged me, told me her mother had had a stillborn daughter born before her, a baby that shared my birthday, and how she had always felt her dead sister as a part of her life. I could tell she had been worried, too, when it took so long to find that heartbeat.
Before we left, I made myself walk past the bed where I lay with A. It is exactly as I remember it. I looked over at the nurses’ desk, where I called R and choked out the terrible truth: the baby is dead. The nurses smiled and hugged me and told me to come back whenever I needed to.
We drove home exhausted in the sunshine, stopped for coffee and studied the snow on the mountains.
I planned to spend the afternoon making a cake for my mother’s birthday, like I did last year, but everyone insisted that I just rest, that this year the cake would be bought, or made by my brother. Everyone wants to take care of me this year; last year everyone seemed to expect me to plan a party, bake the cake, be the organizer and I was a seething mess of rage and disbelief: all this 2 months after my baby died? 5 days before she should have been born? This year, I am carrying everyone’s hope inside me and they are solicitous; they are watching and waiting too and hope is something they can understand, can grasp onto in a way the grief and rage never have been.
The weight of all that hope sits on my shoulders, accompanies the weight of the grief that still lies across my chest, while I count kicks, monitor every movement, hold my own breath.