Let me tell you a story which I think is emblematic of this pregnancy after unexplained loss journey. Friday, I had one of two Non-Stress Tests (NST) I get a week. And so I toddle downtown for the first appointment of the day. On my way, I drink my mega smoothie of frozen berries, yogurt, almond butter and banana, then shoot an orange juice. This kid is moving whether he likes it or not. I am an anal first appointment of the day type of gal. I am impatient and uncomfortable in a room of expectant mothers, so I try to minimize it with first appointments. I am the first one there, and ride up the elevator with my MFM. We talk weather. I figure I more than likely will not talk to him today, if all goes well.
I sit in the NST chair as their belt me up for the heart rate monitor and the contraction monitor, and I get my little witchy book all witchified. The boy moves off monitor a few times, which restarts the twenty minute straight clock. But all looks good. The kid's heartrate is good. The movements are on target. The Nurse Practitioner comes in and I ask her if they are checking amniotic fluid levels today. She says no. Everything is great. (I only asked because at some point I was told that they would check amniotic fluid levels once a week via u/s.)
I'm getting ready to go, and unexpectedly, the MFM comes in and says, "Let's check her amniotic fluid today. We are having a slow day and it's good to start that now."
So, back out to the waiting room I go. Hey, really, I don't mind extra checking of anything. So, I text Sam, let him know that I am just waiting for an u/s. I work on the Times Crossword. (That app rocks my blackberry, dudes.) And get called back into the Cranky Tech Room. That is what I call her, because I have dubbed her She Who Cannot Be Bothered. Anyway, whatever. They are just checking amniotic levels. So, I lie back, bear the belly, lube up...there is the amniotic fluid. There is the spine. I see no heart.
She measures, without speaking, and takes some stills. She tries to get Thor's profile, but then tells me that he is facing down. "'Scuse me? He's looking down the hatch?" I think. I don't get it. Whatever, she gives me a useless picture of the back of Thor's head for some reason. But it is starting to bother me. All this non-talk about everything else, so I ask. I just put myself out there.
"You see a heartbeat, right?"
"You were JUST hooked up to a heart rate monitor for forty minutes. You heard it. We don't check the heart when it was just beating for forty minutes."
"Yes, but my second daughter was stillborn at 38 weeks for no reason. And it has been twenty minutes. I know I sound crazy, but it didn't take her days to die. It only took the heart to stop one time."
"I know, honey. I understand. Yes. The heart is beating." Sigh. Leave the room. Send in the MFM to deal with the crazy lady.
I didn't cry. I didn't feel remorse for being crazy. I just felt an immense relief. Today, I had a full-on freak out during naptime because I couldn't rouse Thor, you know, until after a large glass of orange juice, a Cadbury Creme Egg and a spoonful of whipped topping. And when he kicked, it still wasn't convincing. I still thought that he lacked the oomph of the day before. He always makes his kick counts, but I wonder if he really means it.
I have three weeks left before Thor comes out, and I'm thinking that this is just the beginning of the hardest time of this pregnancy. The time when every minute feels like the minute of his death. We think we have a name. Or I overheard my husband tell his sister that we decided on a name, which was surprising to me, because it seems like we have been avoiding that conversation since Sam has been on drugs. I am beyond looking at a name book. I am treading water, convinced the kid will not end up here, and this is my last shot, because it will be my last pregnancy. No matter what.
Wednesday, Beatrice and I took Sam to the orthopedic surgeon to get one of the pins removed from his surgery. Usually they send you back into the OR to do these sort of things, but my husband thought he could handle it. And Bea and I were sitting in the room watching the doctor wiggle the pin around, and Bea stage-whispers, "Daddy is being very brave."
"Yes, Daddy is being very brave," I say as I see the color drain from my husband, sweat collect on his upper lip, and his eyes roll back in his head. Passed right out, as the doctor finished pulling the five inch pin from his baby toe.
But he is hobbling now. I mean, it is a sort of walk. He carried a dish into the kitchen today, and I almost wept. The hardest part of this time is the relentlessness of it. Every. Little. Thing. Suddenly falls under my job description. I have never been one to toil about such things. I am a person who sees something that needs to be done and does it. Usually without guff. I don't keep score. Usually. But now I have found myself growing bitter. Ruing that this time, when terror should be enough. It is trumped by no rest, no respite, no milking of the gigantic belly...it is simply business as usual. If I have a Ben and Jerry's craving at 2 am, I am going to the market. Nothing special about this pregnancy and this pregnant woman. I am still expected to carry the heavy things, and shovel the walk, and clean up the puke. To bend over and pick up all the scattered pieces of whatever the dog dragged in.
Some days, I feel the worst for Jack. I am constantly sniping at that dog. Maybe because he doesn't cry when I exasperatedly scream, "Et tu, Jack the dog?" when he begs to go out right after I set up a sparkly water with lemon and a strategically placed ottoman and the crossword; whereas Sam gets his feelings hurt, and Bea cries. Jack is always in my shizzle now, wanting to go out, wanting a nuzzle, and barking at an invisible intruder. I feel spent. "I have no emotional energy for you, Scavenger. Get out of my kitchen," I say when I am fixing dinner. I growl at him when he follows me into the bathroom, because I have a train of toddler and dog behind me into every room, even the most private of times. Of course, he gets fed, and walked and all the stuff you do for a dog, but I roll my eyes a lot, and sigh, and screech, and yell at him for his bored instincts of chewing tissues from the bathroom garbage.
I am bored with my own bitching.
Bored with my bitching. And terrified of my reality. I feel like I have been pregnant for years. Actually, I got pregnant with Lucy on April 10, 2008. I was still breastfeeding Beatrice. I carried her for nine and half months. Then she died. For six months after, I felt like a vessel of grief and sadness, still carrying something large with a strong heartbeat, within me. Then, another baby joined Grief in there. And he is growing big and strong, and I can't for the life of me see him in our lives. No matter how optimistic and wide-eyed I try to be, I still cannot see him. I lack that particular ability. But pregnancy after loss has to have some iota of hope...we must have imagined that we could make a baby that lives or perhaps we would have never even tried again. I just can't remember being that optimistic right now.