In the Storm: Baby Loss and Pregnancy Afterward
As I write, a storm rages outside. Tumultuous clouds, scathing wind, thunder and falling branches, power lost, sideways rain -- I love it. I love a good storm.
But personal storms? Storms in which clouds blacken my heart instead of the sky? I'm not such a fan of those.
I feel like I am at the beginning of a very stormy season. Although maybe it began when Eve died, or when I became pregnant again just a few months after her stillbirth? I'm not sure. The beginning of this pregnancy was very tumultuous after all, fraught with fear and a perpetual sense of falling.
But then things got better. Baby and I arrived safely in trimester two, and I began to be able to feel the sun warm against my skin once again.
Now I'm nearly at the end of the second trimester, and I am afraid. We are quickly approaching the gestation that Eve died at (31 weeks), and that fact makes me tremble. I thought that perhaps the fear and anxiety would ratchet back up as we reached 28 weeks, but I'm realizing that it has already begun to balloon.
I just returned from a last-minute trip to see my O.B., convinced that something was wrong because Baby has been moving less. She reassured me that everything was well, that I should not be monitoring movement patterns until 26 weeks, that right now I'm just to feel for any movement, not a set amount each day. She said this kindly, knowingly. Her first baby was stillborn, too.
But I don't feel reassured. I have become convinced that this baby, just like our first, will not survive his stay in my body. I don't trust this body, and don't trust the process of pregnancy. This baby, he could die so easily, so silently -- and because I know this from experience, the truth of that is all the more terrifying.
Many women whose babies die before or shortly after birth report "aching arms" -- where the arms and chest physically hurt, a manifestation of grief and the longing to hold the child who can never be held again. I have not experienced the aching arms -- until now.
Now, I ache. I ache to hold this baby who is living within me, whom I am so afraid will die within me. I ache to enter labor with the hope of meeting my living baby for the first time face-to-face, not with the despair and fear that come as you are forced to birth your dead child. I ache for pregnancy to end with messy diapers and sleeplessness born of baby cries and swollen breasts and hope for the future.
I ache. Terribly. Could this be love?
I am trying to trust. But oh, it hurts, my friends. It hurts.
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