Monday, January 16, 2017
21 weeks and 5 days
Twenty one weeks and five days, that was the point in pregnancy that we found out that Abigail was gone. Presumably lost sometime around 19 weeks, as that's when I'm last sure I felt her. Today marks 21 weeks and 5 days with Kate. Everyday we make it past this, is more time than we had with Abigail.
I haven't written about Abigail in a while. I think some people have made the mistake of assuming that somehow this pregnancy erases or at least completely negates the last one. As if a new baby somehow replaces the child we lost. Don't get me wrong, we are very happy to be pregnant again. We tried for what felt like a long time. We very much want this child, but it is a complicated thing to be pregnant again after loss. In someways the time between pregnancies was a blessing, though it was gut wrenching to wonder if somehow in our loss if I could even get pregnant again. Just as I read alot of Still Standing after our loss, and found much of it comforting and reassuring; I now find myself reading alot of their sister site, Pregnant After Loss. I have also relied alot on some women online who have also experienced loss, a few of us were able to get pregnant about the same time, and that too has been an encouragement. Even though a few of those women have already lost these new pregnancies. Through these women, I have learned that having a year to grieve before we become pregnant again has helped me in alot of ways to deal with this pregnancy. I did have the time to work out alot of my feelings about our loss, and to come to terms with it. I don't know how long it will take to get over my anger toward the doctors who should have been managing my care with Abigail. I don't know how long it will take to get where I can completely trust medical professionals again.
I'm not entirely sure if I will ever get over this feeling of "waiting for the shoe to drop" as Gary describes it. He said the other night, it's almost this foreboding feeling in the back of our minds, as if we are just waiting for the inevitable bad news that is coming. It doesn't mean that we aren't happy about this pregnancy, or that we aren't doing our best to enjoy this pregnancy, but we are also no longer naive. Babies do die. 71 babies were stillborn a day last year in this country alone. 1 in 100 births will be a stillbirth. That is more than 10 times the number of children that die a year from SIDS. So why do we act like it doesn't happen? And what's even worse, so little of why and how to prevent it is even known. There are some correlations, such as having one still birth increases your odds of having another, but no real answers.
It is all this uncertainty combined with our very real life experience, that makes a new pregnancy so difficult. As much as we want this child, it is normal to steel ourselves against the very big what if. However, I feel like we have done a really great job in managing our anxiety. We have tried to find understanding and knowledgable doctors. We have researched and watched my thyroid, which remains our best guess at what happened to Abigail. We talk about our fears and try to mentally check them logically. And when even that doesn't help, there is always crying together and prayer. While many families can only cope with the possibility of another loss by acting like there is no pregnancy until the baby is born and is ok, we have tried to enjoy as many things that we did with the others as we can with this baby. We have taken pictures, picked out a name, and talked with the kids about what they might do with their sister. However, when they ask if this baby will die too, we are honest. We tell them we hope not. We tell them we are doing everything we can to make sure it doesn't happen again. Just this weekend we had a scare and had a rushed appointment today. An appointment that scared me to death, one that ironically enough was on the same gestational day. You better believe I was not only reliving the last time I made it to 21 weeks and 5 days, but seeing the horror of what this 21 weeks and 5 days could be.
There is alot of joy over a new baby. We got all of our family photos hung, and optimistically I had Gary hang an empty one for Katherine. However, it co-exists with grief and longing. I miss Abigail every day and all she might have been. I see her around our home in my mind's eye. One day in heaven all of that will be resolved, but for now I am here. We are here. To share that you can be both joyful and sorrowful and that it doesn't make us anything less, but is a testament to both our incredible journey and our strength. This pregnancy may not look like the others. I didn't announce it the second the test said positive. I'm not positively giddy. I'm waiting on making big decisions like registries, baby showers, and setting up a nursery until after we reach 26 weeks and the age of viability. Even then, I may not be 100% comfortable until Kate is born and I'm holding a child that is ok in my arms. And you know what, that's ok. If there is anything that I have learned from Abigail it's that I do the best I can with what I know, with what I have at the time. And I can't spend my time beating myself up for what I think I should have known or should have done. Just like I can't flay myself for what I should have known about my thyroid, about how I should have never blindly trusted a doctor, and for just not knowing. This baby is loved, and we'll get through this pregnancy no matter the outcome. I'm not going to fake what I'm not or regret what is different, because I can't beat myself up for being where I am, I'll just continue doing the best I can with where I'm at. Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, and enjoying each day that we get.