I’ve been here before. Wrapping up our annual summer vacation with family, saying our goodbyes, making plans for the holidays. Squeezes of my belly, the same saying, over and over again. “Next time we see you, you’ll have a new baby to cuddle!” This makes the third time we’ve done this cycle. Three babies due in the month before Christmas. Three visits planned to family across the country. One trip made empty-handed. Two times plans were made with a gigantic asterisk in my mind. *If everything goes ok. *Assuming we bring our baby home. *Let’s hope that’s the case. *What would happen to our plans if it all happens again?

This is the life of a PAL mama. Life lived with asterisk. Unable to take congratulations or make plans without thinking about the alternative. While I do know that I am significantly better at it this time around, knowing that I have brought home my first rainbow safely, it doesn’t completely remove that internal dialogue that speaks back to well-wishers. That forces me to look down and stop making eye-contact when we make plans with the new baby. Try as I might, I cannot bring myself to just count on the fact that we will, in fact, be bringing a new baby to meet his family over the holidays.

I now have three very dear friends in various stages of pregnancy. One that is now 35 weeks, exactly as far along as I was when Layla was inexplicably stillborn. Two that have just entered their second trimester. Every time my phone says it’s them calling or texting, my heart sinks for just a moment. No longer can we just chat, and they know that. Reassurance needed that everything is ok before I can focus on catching up. Life lived with an asterisk. *Hihowareyoubutreallyhowisthebaby

I’m 31 weeks now. One week away from starting the twice-a-week NSTs. One week away from yet another reminder that this is no typical pregnancy. One week away from the reassurance that comes when you’re on the monitors, and the knowledge that, realistically, NSTs might occasionally catch babies in distress, but in my case, it probably would have made no difference with Layla. My midwife is now making noises along with the MFM that she’d also like to have this baby out by 39 weeks, which means we’re on the 8 week countdown. The longest 8 weeks of all.

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