In the last nine months, I’ve been told a lot that I’m strong, that I’m handling things really well, that I’m resilient, and that I’m brave to choose to be pregnant again.

And I’ve decided that I’m done. I don’t want to be strong anymore.

Box of baby items - Issy's Bump Day Blog, Week 29: Strong and Brave?

Shutterstock/Igisheva Maria

If I’m being honest, I want the world to revolve around me for the next eight weeks. I want people to think about how the things they say and do come across to someone who is terrified of their baby dying. I want people to know what to say, how to get it right. I’m tired of being gracious, of giving people the benefit of the doubt, of letting things slide. I want to hide away from the world and only let you in if you promise to tread carefully, to try to understand my mind and my fear.

I’m being dramatic, I know. But I’m also trying to be honest. It’s hard to put on a brave face all the time, however well-meaning I know people are trying to be. But this is the real world, and I can’t avoid everyone—much as I would sometimes like to.

I suppose what I’m getting at here is that I’m realizing I need to find ways to cope.

Self-care, maybe, but in more than just the usual day-to-day way. I need a plan for how I’m going to get through the next eight weeks without going insane with fear. And I don’t have that plan yet. So I guess people need to be a little bit cautious around me in the meantime?!

There’s a story in philosophy called Zeno’s Paradox of the Tortoise and Achilles. The story goes that the two race, but the tortoise gets a head start. Achilles is faster, of course, but by the time he catches up to the tortoise, the tortoise has gained more distance in the meantime, so Achilles has to catch up again… and so on. “And so you see, in each moment you must be catching up the distance between us, and yet I—at the same time—will be adding a new distance, however small, for you to catch up again.” Another way it’s told is that to travel a distance, you must first cover half the distance, then half of what’s remaining, and on and on. You can continue to progress 50% of the distance left at a time, but you’re never actually able to reach the end.

This sums up how I feel about this pregnancy. The number of weeks left is getting smaller, but it’s hard to imagine it will ever get to zero. I’m stuck inside the paradox. My only experience of pregnancy is getting past 37 weeks and then not taking my baby home. It feels like a big cosmic joke, as if I’ll go in on the day of my c-section and the doctors will laugh and say, ha! No baby for you!

So, you might be able to tell that my anxiety is increasing.

In the past 10 days, I’ve had a scan with a consultant, a midwife appointment to listen to the heartbeat, and a CTG that looked perfectly healthy. And still, the fear remains. I wake up and wait to feel him move. I sit down at work and wait to feel him move. I have a drink of water, I eat my lunch, I sit down on the sofa, and wait to feel him move. Sometimes I feel as though I’m keeping him alive just by holding my breath.

I’m hoping this is just a particularly tense week, probably amplified by setting our c-section date last week. We have two weeks off for Easter break now, so hopefully, I will find ways to relax and things to keep me occupied for the next couple of months. I don’t feel strong or brave, but all there is to do is keep going.

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