22 Weeks

On another blog someone made a comment about how a woman who has had a miscarriage won’t start to feel safe until the baby starts moving regularly. Well we’re at the latter stage in this house now but the former feeling hasn’t quite kicked in. I wonder when that happens? Maybe in about 18 years plus 3 months? Or maybe when I die myself of old age and this baby and his children live on, then maybe I can feel like there’s a right order about things in the world.

Oh, it’s really not that bad. I’m doing fine. Some anxiety but not terrible. I’m almost energetic actually, which, although I used to feel it often, now seems quite foreign to this body. Makes me suspicious. That’d be a nice one for the doctor on call this weekend – help! I don’t know what to think – I’m feeling too okay.

The news of my pregnancy has now spread to the elderly faction of the inlaws. One of the members just called now and “can only wish [me] the best of luck.” That’s fine as well. She’s not the prayer-offering type, and really, luck is fine. But there was a funny moment in the conversation. She was asking how my work was going and commented, “So I heard you changed your major again.” Huh? Yes, actually, now I’m going for a Phd in electrical engineering….How do these rumors get started? The first problem with the statement reveals a fairly common misunderstanding. Grad students don’t have “majors.” I’m getting a Phd in history. I’m not doing coursework in anything else – my major was American Studies in college but I graduated 8 years ago. No changing it now. Second problem – I’ve been an Americanist focusing on the early period (colonization through the Civil War) since I entered grad school in the fall 0f 2002 and haven’t changed. My diss topic has been the same since I started it 2.5 years ago. So I haven’t changed anything. It doesn’t matter but it’s weird to think there’s discussion going on out there about me changing. It’s not that surprising, however, because it seems every time I talk to my father-in-law and he asks about my dissertation topic, he responds as if it’s the first he heard of it. It’s as if I’m the most fickle scholar/student in the world, when really I’m quite consistent.

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20 responses to “22 Weeks

  1. i’m still working on that whole ‘feeling safe’ thing. 🙂 really, the baby’s fifteen months old now and if i let myself i still panic that he might disappear. so i don’t let myself.

    but seriously, i don’t think it would be strange if you never felt safe with this pregnancy. because you didn’t have a miscarriage, you had a baby who died, so you know full well that feeling your baby move is no guarantee, sadly, that you’re taking him home. which i don’t mean to be cruel or negative…just…that’s your reality, unfortunately. as it was mine. for me, in that second pregnancy, a part of me marked time in terms of death. after twenty weeks, i comforted myself with the thought that if we lost him then, at least we’d get to name him. which i didn’t mean to be macabre…it was just a form of self-protection.

    only at 28 weeks did i begin to really believe that maybe, maybe all would go well.

    and i was lucky, and it did.

    i hope you are too. i hope the elderly inlaws do lots of wishing.

  2. You’re right Bon, of course. Rereading my own words, I questioned my own meaning there. I remember when I had my miscarriage that I felt it was the worst thing in the world. And it was horrible. But at least I still had the hope that it was a fluke – then it was totally reasonable to say it was a fairly normal occurrence. For a first pregnancy to end in miscarriage, that is. And that it meant nothing about my and my future ability to have children. But there’s none of that comfort now. And I envy that feeling, even as it is cloaked in its own pain and misery.

    Interesting that you felt comfort in that even if the baby died after twenty weeks, you could at least name it. The idea that I’ve now almost reached the point where survival is a possibility and I might have to name and bury another child who could have lived takes my breath away.

  3. I think relatives often just have no idea what to talk about and end up making comments that would sound extremely strange if they were paying any attention to the lives of the people they were talking to. For what seemed like ages and ages, whenever she talked to my brother, my stepmother always used to ask him what kind of work he was thinking of doing. She always seemed taken aback when he reminded her that, since he had graduated from medical school a few years before, he was kind of planning on being a doctor.

  4. I agree that I’m almost afraid of naming this baby because what if we lose him too? But he’s in there anyway, isn’t it? I will feel “safe” when I have a crying baby in my arms. I’ll take everything else as it comes. I’m starting to think to myself, especially getting back to work and interacting with more people, if people don’t know me, if they don’t know my story, if they don’t know what to say, I’m not going to care anymore. I hope it works!

  5. B, I get what you are saying.. there really isn’t a safe period in pregnancy for my either since my loss was after my due date. However, I must say that lately I’ve been feeling more positive than I have in a long time. Sure, my fears come and go, but overall I seem to be having fewer,”oh God, my baby is dead” moments and more, “he’s just sleeping and he’ll move soon” moments. About the relatives thing.. my SIL has a degree in Astronomy and Physics and relatives are always mistaking her astronomy major for astrology!! And I think you should call 24 hour hotline and demand an ultrasound because you feel “too good”. Why not? We should be able to have a few fun moments in this pregnancy!

  6. Uggh, I always assumed that my babies were dead for every U/S and I never had your history. So I don’t know how it would be possible for you not to have your very normal, but stressed out thoughts. During the delivery, I even held my breath until my sons cried.

    For me, I continue to have horrible thoughts. I just know that life can end at anytime, that there are no guarantees. Maybe, I have darker thoughts than the average parent? For instance, Bud pushed Chuck into the pool last week. I couldn’t catch Chuck, because (a) it was unexpected (b) I was more towards the middle of the pool expecting to catch a jumping Chuck. I immediately picked Chuck off the bottom of the pool and he didn’t even take in water, but I can’t get the freaking image out of my mind.

  7. When Dr. B was telling me what kind of care I would receive in a sub pregnancy, he just came out and said that it will be pretty scary for me right up until the end. And that for both that reason and for medical reasons they will have me come in 2-3 times a week towards the end. Love that man. But also? When a medical professional tells me it’s ok to be terrified, I think I will just go ahead and be terrified. Now, if I could only get to where I have something to be terrified about, it would be peachy. And I obviously think you get to be terrified too. Including about feeling too fine.

  8. I don’t assume really ever that the baby is dead. I mean, sometimes I have brief moments of worry, but my true fear is actually that he’s fine and my body’s just going to inexplicably kick him out. Neither option is good, obviously, and I hope I don’t get introduced to any new tragic options. And I wouldn’t think of having a guilt contest, but for me at the moment it’s a tremendous weight to think that it’s all me, all my body’s fault if this baby dies too. And too think I thought body image was all about weight.

    Niobe & Monica – I’m glad I’m not alone in being ignored by family, and you’ve disproven my feeling that I might get more respect if I were in a science field!

    Thrice – I’m not sure, but those thoughts sound normal enough to me. I get scared for other people’s children often and I’ve been that way since becoming an adult. We live on a street with a lot of traffic trying to find parking spaces, and cars often seem to pull into driveways erratically without looking at the sidewalk while at the same time children are running down the sidewalks on their way to the park or the Y, or pretty soon, school and it all makes me quite nervous! Although I suppose if enough people had my level of risk awareness they wouldn’t drive so damn fast on a street like this.

    8 days until the next transvag unless I freak out sooner….

  9. I don’t think I ever felt safe during pregnancy, after my first loss (an ectopic)–but I must have had some innocence left, because I never imagined that a baby could die after you pass that first trimester. After losing the next pregnancy at 20 weeks, I think I lost the rest of that innocence. I don’t think I would count on anything until a live baby is placed in my arms.

    I feel the same thing, Beruriah–that if this one comes too early, my body will have failed me once again. It is a tremendous weight to carry (the responsibility). And the guilt.

    I’m glad to hear that you are feeling good and not too anxious. I am 6 weeks behind you–so it helps a lot to hear about your stitch and how you are feeling. I can’t imagine myself making it to 22 weeks–but then again, I couldn’t imagine making it to 16 either.

  10. Meg, I’m happy it helps to hear about my stitch – I was afraid I might be offering a**vice by commenting. It sucks in so so many ways that we’re going through this at all, but I’m glad to have found someone else. A good friend of ours who lost a son last summer is now at 34 weeks (or around abouts) and getting ready to have her stitch removed. She gives me great hope that this can actually work.

  11. I chuckled about how confused your advanced degree and studies seem to make some of your family. My husband has a job that most people don’t even realize exists, and is kind of hard to understand. I am quite sure that most of my family has no idea whatsoever what he does. It’s funny sometimes.

    Wow. 22 weeks… I understand your anxiety. This is such a critical window, and one you want to pass by as quickly as possible, I know.

    I can’t explain why, but I am with Bon. I was relieved when Baby Girl got past 20 weeks, because I wanted to know that no matter what happened, she would always “count” in the eyes of the law. Not fair, I know, to those who lose babies before 20 weeks. And am in no way discounting the pain of those earlier losses. But knowing that’s how the law works, I wanted her to at least have a birth certificate and a name. Luckily, thank God, she got both of those things, and got to live and come home.

    May your baby, this precious boy, be blessed with all of that and so much more!

  12. just to clarify what i’d said earlier…yep, the idea of losing another took my breath away too. but at the same time, every milestone passed was something i needed to mark – i think because i was finding the erasure of Finn’s life from conversation particularly brutal at about that point in time, as my pregnancy became known and people around me baffled me by treating it like it was my first and labour was some great fun unknown ahead of me. it was around that point that i finally galvanized myself to acknowledge Finn in conversations about pregnancy, and i realized – if something were to happen to this second baby – that i wanted, at the very least, that official marker of him having been here. so carrying the baby to a point of official legitimacy, like Lori said, was a milestone…a macabre one, but kind of a baseline for me. like, now at least we get this, and every week chances get better.

    it was a weird attempt to be hopeful. 🙂

    it was my body that failed, too, so i was mercifully unconcerned about in utero death, just about delivering too early. my water broke with Finn at 24 weeks but i’d had leaking from 19 weeks. he was born at 26 week with good statistical chances, but only lived 11 hours so i really didn’t trust survival rate chances until we got safely past the 28 week mark. then, to be honest, i felt pretty cocky at least by comparison. 🙂

  13. I know exactly what you mean, Bon. It it incredibly aggravating to be treated like this pregnancy is my first. And I need to grasp every attempt at hope that’s available!

    I hadn’t known the conditions of Finn’s birth and death – it’s so sad to meet another family who ended up on the poor side of those good statistical chances. I have such a hard time hearing about 23, 24, 25 week babies who do well. I’m happy for their families, but that’s when the whys REALLY kick in for me. Why did we have to end up in almost the very worst of the worst scenarios? I say “almost” because I realize it could have been even worse – I could have died or suffered permanent or longterm injury. If they’d managed a c-section, it could have either ended up better – Natan would be with us – or might have ended up even worse.

  14. I’m in a place right now where the idea of feeling “safe” just feels deluded. Hell, I was three days off my due date and she died anyway. This weekend, my sister-in-law badgered me into telling her that I was pregnant so she could share her exciting news that she’s expecting her second four days before I’m due. All I can think of is that my baby will of course die and I’ll have to look at this niece or nephew for the rest of my life…

  15. Megan, That’s a familiar feeling. Back awhile ago I posted about how a now former friend is due a week after me. And somehow, for me at least, when it’s someone’s second child I get the sick and non-admirable feeling I’m being lapped. This is not fun at all.

    How far along are you? How are your docs approaching this pregnancy in terms of management?

  16. Thanks for asking. I’m in my seventh week so it still feels pretty theoretical. I’m not sure how I’ll be managed. My baby died of a massive fetal-maternal hemorrhage after a totally uncomplicated pregnancy . The obnoxious OB who delivered her said I’ll need to be monitored closely to make sure I don’t develop non-Rh isoimmunization (Kell etc.) Tomorrow I’m seeing a midwife from the same practice as the wonderful women I had last time and I’m hoping she’ll tell me she that she’ll look after me and consult a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. Thanks for commiserating re: SIL, I just need to keep asserting that this is my second baby, too. This is the woman who, when Georgia died, told me – twice – that “at least our next children will be closer in age.”

  17. Georgia’s a lovely name. I’m so sorry she’s not with you.

    Good luck with the SIL – I’m finding it difficult to relate to those people in my life who just don’t get that this is not my first baby. People seem to either understand and accept or not. I absolutely cannot believe she made that comment – or I’d like not to believe it but I really can, having been told a similar thing. I’m not sure what possesses them: I’d like to ask, with a look of disgust on my face, are you really trying to find a proverbial silver lining? Or are you just so self absorbed you believe other lives are meant to complement yours? Or both?

    Oh, and I hope you’re able to demand whatever you need from your ob, whether your stay with her or are sent to a high-risk clinic for the entire pregnancy.

  18. Thanks for listening, Beruriah. I’ll try to remember what your namesake said: “More are the children of the desolate…”

  19. I don’t know if my thoughts are so normal. After my twins were born, they developed much differently, because they are, well, different. I was in constant fear that Chuck had CP or autism. They can run ti different directions in a flash. If anyone every wanted to take them at the park, it would be all too easy. When I can’t find either of them for a split second, my thoughts go to the worst place. I wish I didn’t do it. I don’t really discuss it IRL. I can’t lock them up. I pray for the best every day. So much of it’s chance. I’ve very much aware that my time with them can stay or go at anytime. Maybe that’s good in the sense that I snuggle them every night, like I will never have the chance again. Who knows what others really think. There are so many near misses with every kid.

  20. Mothering hand-in-hand with death is a different sort of mothering, I have found, than that which is only possible when one hasn’t lost a pregnancy, baby, or child. Knowing, intellectually, that our children *could* die at any moment is one thing: experiencing it is quite another. There is no going back.

    You wrote: “… maybe when I die myself of old age and this baby and his children live on, then maybe I can feel like there’s a right order about things in the world.”

    Yes. Exactly.

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