Who’d have thought it?

I look no closer to labor this week than last week! No pressure on the cerclage, no dilation. I am so relieved, and somewhat in shock. It looks like this baby will be born at TERM. I don’t think I ever imagined I would actually make it.

I’ve probably said this before many times here, but I didn’t allow myself to actually think this could work. I comforted myself with the thought that we were truly doing everything. But to think that I could actually carry to 37 weeks or beyond? I’m living in surreality.

I lived for 21 weeks or so after learning I was pregnant again, with terror at the thought that my baby could easily die. After 25 weeks, I prepared myself to accept the responsibility for having gotten pregnant again knowing my own history. I tried to grasp the profundity of risks to which I was consciously and voluntarily subjecting my child. I thought a lot about how if I gave birth to a child who suffered because of his prematurity, that it would be no accident, but because I had dared to take this chance. At 30 weeks, when survival seemed likely, I still feared he would die if born, but also feared more tangibly the prospect of months in the NICU, and still worried over the risks of prematurity-related disabilities. I knew we could and would handle the demands of a special-needs child, yet I dared to have hope we would make it to 34. And here we are at 35w 4d with no sign of labor. It will be a surprise now if I don’t make it to 37 weeks. Not only are chances very great that I will bring this baby home eventually, but it’s most likely that I will get to bring him home right after he is born. Of course I know it’s not guaranteed, but the risks of my own personal history are gone. Clinically, I am at “normal” risk levels now.

And I am happy. Yet even still I feel guilty. Guilty that I’m trying to be ready to welcome this little guy home, rather than caring for Natan. Rather than visiting doctors and therapists and acclimating him to the world. I have no delusions that a baby born as early as he was, had he survived, would not have faced incredible challenges. But not knowing how severe they would have been, I would prefer he was alive. Instead, he’s buried in a plot in a cemetery and we will be moving away in less than a year. Instead, I’m sitting here contemplating the birth of his brother, and grateful that he’ll have an easier time. Again, no promises, but chances are. I feel Natan’s absence profoundly. My peace at having made it so far with his brother doesn’t change that. Nor does it change that I would rather have him here. Or erase the trauma of losing him. I still, even though the risk is gone for this baby, play over Natan’s birth in my mind, wondering if anything could have been done differently, wishing it had gone differently. I am so grateful I don’t have to worry about any of that with this baby, but I feel an intangible guilt, as if I’ve gotten off too easily this time.

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13 responses to “Who’d have thought it?

  1. Wow, wonderful news!

    The thing is, guilt is a perfectly normal part of motherhood. You are a wonderful mother to both your boys.

  2. Yeah, I don’t suppose it would help to tell you that you have nothing to feel guilty about? Because you don’t. These boys are separate people. That lessons so dearly paid for with one helped the other is a testament to your responsibility as their mother, and to how much better care you are getting this time. None of this makes loosing Natan better, or even OK. It’s just is what it is. His brother won’t replace him but he will (hopefully, most likely now) fill your house with sound and feeling that didn’t live there before. And that’s a good thing.

  3. I am so happy to hear you will most likely NOT be in labor when your husband is away! Yay, yay, yay! As for worry/guilt, I think one of the most key lessons of parenthood that I am still in the process of learning is living with “the mess.” And I’m not just talking about the dirty laundry and dried patches of baby spit that I never quite get a handle on since my girls came home from the hospital after birth. (Though I do think moms are way happier if they can learn to be ok with such messes, too.) I mean just what you describe so well here: the contradictions that cross your mind when you contemplate a baby who comes after one who died. That is the ultimate mess!

  4. this post hit me hard, both as i contemplate the responsibility we’re taking for trying again, now, knowing my history, and as i remember how i felt in the days before Oscar was born at 36w,1d.

    so strange to find you have survived, isn’t it?

  5. I’m very pleased for you. You are right that chances are that your baby will be coming home with you. Given that hope, you might want to consider writing a list of the minimal things that you want, so Josh doesn’t have to *guess* at what you would prefer. Onesies (must be Carter’s, IMHO), a snowsuit to come home in, car seat, just the minimal amount of stuff that you will need in the first week. Personally, I would love for you to do one of those Amazon wish list thingies. But then again, only if you can allow yourself to go there.

    Your continual emotional confliction for Natan is understanable. I don’t see how it could be any other way. Again, I wish that I had the ability to go back and change things. Where will you be moving to? I didn’t know that you are moving. That must add an additional level of complex emotions. I’m so sorry.

    For me, your late (it’s all relative) gestating has brought my worry back to you and your unexplained difficulties that you had with Natan’s delivery and your familial history. At your next OB visit, please consider getting an hsCRP and BNP blood tests. Last week, Dr. PPCM did a powerpoint presentation at the American Heart Association Scientific Meeting in Orlando, Fl about hscrp and PPCM. I’ll email it to you. The value of hsCRP as a marker is not widely known in the medical community. Given your history, I think the blood tests would be of value.

  6. Well, given what you said it will come as no surprise that my response is equally mixed. You have the right to feel giddy, happy, joyous. And you should be. You also have the right to be unbelievably sad that new baby won’t meet Nathan, that Nathan also went through hell, and that you couldn’t bring him home. And it sucks big time that you have to split yourself in two and feel both at the same time around the same (otherwise wonderful) event. Are you moving far? And yay on not going into labor anytime soon. You need nothing for a newborn save for diapers and a carseat (and maybe a blanket over a onesie depending on where you live). If you could bother one of your neighbors to have these on hand, you’ll be fine. Then get everything delivered.

  7. Ooops, big holy shit, I just spelled Natan’s name wrong through that entire comment. Gah. That kinda day. Please forgive.

  8. Thanks all. Tash – I didn’t even notice the “h,” so don’t worry, but thank you for noticing. Julia, deserving it or not has nothing to do with my ability to feel guilt! It’s innate in me, it seems. Thrice & Tash, Our cat Midnight is enjoying a car seat in my living room as I write this (my mom sent it), Kate wonderfully shared a lot of onesies and other clothing with us, my parents will be here at Thanksgiving with stuff from folks at home, and of course my mom would have never let me make it this far without a registry. Josh’s mom has already nearly cleared out one registry already (mostly relating to our preference for cloth diapers). Seems family members weren’t convinced enough by our anxieties to just leave the shopping for later. Thanks, Thrice, I’ll look at the Powerpoint presentation you sent me.

  9. Oh and as for moving, we have no idea where. It all depends on whether/where Josh finds a job! If no job, we think we’ll be going to a big city in the southern Midwest, simply because it’ll be cheaper to look from there for the next year, his family lives there, and it has a number of universities, colleges, and community colleges that may eventually have openings. The chances of any job in this state ever are few and far between even if we stay (and we don’t want to stay in Michigan anyway). But currently, we could be moving anywhere from eastern Canada to the southwestern US and between.

  10. Well, there’s always more stuff to buy. I have crates and crates and crates of clothes, nevermind toys.

    And I am very very glad you have made it so far, and so well. It’s inspiring!

  11. I know you already know you don’t need to justify your feelings, or qualify your guilt, but I would just like to point out that I don’t think this pregnancy qualifies as “easy” by any stretch! Yes, it is in all likelihood going to have a much happier ending, but it has not been without more than its fair share of scares and drama.

    My pregnancy with Pumpkin was quite easy, but I think because she was a singleton I didn’t have those same feelings of guilt you describe. However, I know that if I were ever to carry twins again successfully, I would definitely have difficult feelings about why I wasn’t able to do the same for Molly and Joseph. Even so, my pregnancy with Pumpkin was so easy even my peri. said that there was no biological reason I shouldn’t have been able to carry twins. It was just all horrible, awful luck. No comfort there though.

    I check in every single day and I can’t wait until the day I get to see the happy news.

  12. I’m so glad to hear you’ve made it until here, and that Josh will probably be back before you give birth.
    Moving away from the grave of your child must be very hard (of course, besides the fact that needing the grave is terrible in the first place). Will you have friends or relatives nearby, to come and visit if you want?

  13. Thanks, Amelie. We’re just here for graduate school, so no relatives. At the moment we have lots of friends here, but most of them will also leave. Most likely two friends of ours won’t leave, but very shortly here, this city will become like a ghost town for us.

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