The reality of this journey is all under a week away now. And while I’ve felt a lot of peace in this pregnancy compared to last time round, the words of Meatloaf ring out and it’s all coming back to me now! And some of those memories are hard.
I don’t really feel anxious in any way at all about what’s ahead – but I do have reservations!
Reservations about things like having quite full on surgery again. I have been pretty physically wrecked in this pregnancy with lots of illness and pregnancy conditions that have made moving around pretty painful. So I’m not looking forward to the physical wreckage of recovery from Caesar… Last time wasn’t a walk in the park, and probably will be less so fourth time round. Oh the days of first Caesar where you can go for a big walk just 8 days in… We’ll see how things actually pan out!
Baby’s movements sit at the front of my mind a lot lately. I’m not obsessive about it or counting kicks, but they are definitely my first waking thought and my last before I go to sleep. Because when you live with the very real possibility of death any day, it definitely makes you more sensitive to change. Last time with Nina we had a few scares with movement and dramatic changes in my blood sugars – which can indicate the baby has passed away – but in the end all was ok.
These babies incompatible with life don’t move as much as normal babies, so your guides are a little different. But this wee girl I believe moves much more than Nina ever did in the womb, so we’re hoping she’s a little stronger from pumping more iron on the inside. In fact I can even tell she’s a music lover, she really loves a good drum beat! Probably because she’s had worship music pumped at her every day for the last 8.5 months ;).
It’d be great if you could tell how this might play out in the real world, but really it’s all a waiting game. Despite the many in-depth scans and measurements we’ve had, there is very little prediction about how she’ll cope on the outside. So we’ll just have to wait and see till next week.
As I’ve watched various friends and acquaintances with their new babies recently, I’ve come to the realisation that while babies seem to elicit such joy wherever you take them, our baby only comes with sympathy. Yes there’s joy for us in the moments we may get to spend with her, but for everyone else, they don’t get to meet her alive or experience that. The default feeling is just sympathy for us and our situation. That’s appreciated, of course. But it does really make me sad, that bit. No snuggly baby on your shoulder for people to coo over. No beautiful sleeping newborn in your arms. No conversation starter, because there’s no baby to remark on. Just a genuine feeling of emptiness.
One of the most confronting feelings last time was walking out of the hospital. Usually this is a pretty joyful occasion – strapping your tiny baby into their car seat and introducing them to the world outside. People smile nostalgically as you walk the corridors to the car, your new bundle in tow.
But it’s rather different when your baby has passed away. Nina died in hospital, but we chose to take her home with us for a few days to have her there as part of our family. I had been wrapped up in the bubble of safety my hospital room provided for a few days, and stepping out to go home was a reality check and a half. This wasn’t a dream. It had all happened. And we were going out into a world where not many others knew the massive events of the last few days.
I carried Nina in a little pram carrycot through the staff corridors of the hospital with my midwife to wait at the entrance for Russell to bring the car round. People looked on and probably wondered what was up as she wasn’t in a capsule. She was slightly shrouded and protected from prying eyes being tucked away in the carrycot, but it still felt awkward when usually you’re so proud to walk out – this time felt rather all on show, carrying a dead baby and hoping not to offend anyone! It’s a fine line between longing for someone to acknowledge that this happened, yet not wanting any attention as you’ll have to explain the situation. Strange and confronting things sometimes.
And then there’s the whole swag of feelings that come afterwards…
After the initial fervor of events – birth, death, funeral – things quieten off and life immediately gets back to normal for people. That’s a hard one to navigate – it’s a fine balance between rest and recovery, and just too much time on your own. That quickly gets you down, I realised yesterday… Things have quietened off a week out, and while I need the rest, I struggle with the purposelessness of it! And I can see a big patch of that coming and me needing to be quite thoughtful about how best to use that time to restore without getting sucked back into things too quickly or spending too much time on my own!
Now there are not many mums who walk out of childbirth and feel great about their new mum-bod straightaway, but it’s slightly different when you’ve got no baby in tow. I’m far from a Giselle, but when there’s no newborn to validate your not so svelte state, it’s not a cool feeling! Not with people you know of course, but just being out in public again – at school, at the gym, wherever. In fact there’s a whole lot of physical stuff that just doesn’t go to plan with no bub around – and it becomes a constant reminder of what you lost for a while. At the end of the day, stuff like that shouldn’t matter, but we’re all human and slightly hung up on appearance right!
While all those feelings are coming back thick and fast, this final week is a funny one. We’re well and truly ready to meet her, but it’s nice to just keep her safe and comfortable on the inside, still kicking away happily. There’s no way to put life on hold though and keep things comfortable (well, as comfortable as you can be at 35 weeks pregnant!).
Reading this, to some it may seem like we’ve lost all hope of the possibility of a miracle. But that’s not true at all. We still believe God has the power to turn any dire situation into a beautifully miraculous one… The reality is though, why or how things happen is often something we cannot fathom. BUT, what I do know is no matter the outcome it can still be a beautiful situation. We’ve seen it before.
Next Wednesday we’ll meet her in reality and enjoy her for as long as we get. Yes it’s hard, and it’s going to get harder, but you know what? It’s worth every moment, the whole experience. Because it makes you think very deeply about why – why you do this and why you’d love this deeply, why you’d go through pain you could so easily avoid. The answer is we love her no matter what – and there’s no condition on that love.
And here she is… looking pretty cute and chubby in her scan a few weeks ago. As Jake said… ‘she’s golden!’