WaddleOn

We’ve passed the 30-week mark in our pregnancy after loss, and I’m still waiting for something to go wrong. Every pregnancy symptom or piece of information about the baby, nicknamed Stitch, seems like a red flag of doom. After our last ultrasound at 28 weeks, I was plagued with worry by Stitch’s size estimation. It was the first time the ultrasound technician estimated weight, and I didn’t completely understand how they figure and report those estimates. Before we left the ultrasound room, I asked the technician for a gestation measurement, giving the weight measurement some context. She looked it up and said that it matched with 26 weeks, 6 days. All I heard was, “We’re measuring a week behind.” I was not reassured. The technician also had a terrible time getting a good profile picture for us, because Stitch was in a weird position. With Patrick, at our two “bad ultrasounds” we only got one image. I felt terror that we were headed down that path again, but at a much later gestation this time.

Thankfully, we saw our OB right after the ultrasound, and she was incredibly reassuring. She’d received an initial report on the ultrasound, and she said that the baby continues to look perfect. I asked about the measurement, and instead of sharing a gestation measurement, she gave us a percentile: Stitch is measuring in the 40th percentile, which she again said was perfect.

We left the appointment much more reassured than we were initially from the ultrasound and headed home for a quiet evening. But I couldn’t completely shake my worry. A few days passed, and I decided to text my sister-in-law and ask her to explain how the percentile system works. She agreed with the OB’s assessment that Stitch was completely normal and explained that this was not a case where I wanted to be in the upper percentiles, because that would mean Stitch would be a huge baby.

She went on to very wisely share, “I know it’s hard to not see a red flag around every corner. But honestly, this pregnancy has been the most normal, uneventful, textbook pregnancy. This is a good thing.” Apparently, this is how pregnancy is supposed to be. Since there were concerns about Patrick from very early in the pregnancy, I don’t know anything other than waiting for bad news. But, we continually don’t get bad news, and while I try to embrace that, the reassurance never lasts as long as I wish it could.

When I saw my OB at 30 weeks, she remarked that I seemed calmer, and she asked if I knew what was helping. I told her that I thought it was a combination of factors:

  • Having reached and passed 28 weeks—a more hopeful viability milestone than 24 weeks.
  • Having Stitch measure over two pounds—another of my big, personal milestones.
  • Being reassured that Stitch continues to be “perfect.”
  • Being told by my sister-in-law that I’m having a textbook pregnancy.

She laughed a bit and said, “You know, she’s right. You really are having a textbook pregnancy, even if it doesn’t feel like that after your loss. You’re not prepared for a textbook pregnancy, but I like that you can see it that way.”

The next day I called my father-in-law to chat, and his first question was, “Is everything ok?” I assured him that it was, and he responded, “Well, you know I worry. I just want everything to be ok.”

I went on to explain that the OB says Stitch still looks perfect and that at this point, while we don’t want Stitch to be born early, he/she’d have a pretty good chance at survival. We chatted for a while, and after I hung up the phone, I thought, “I almost believe all the things I said to reassure him,” which felt like a big step.

My brain may have finally wrapped itself around the fact that I’m having a textbook pregnancy, but my heart is still anxious. I wonder if that will ever dissipate. Part of me doubts that it will. I still get triggered and see red flags. At my 30-week OB appointment, the medical assistant went through a list of questions that they wanted to make sure we’d considered before coming to the hospital to deliver. “If the baby is a boy, will you be circumcising?” “Do you plan to breastfeed?” “Did you know you need to bring a casket to the hospital?”

Startled by that last question, I thought, “Wait, what? Well, I guess that would have been helpful with Patrick. Do they only prepare loss parents like this? Wait, what? That can’t be what she said.”

“Excuse me, what was the last question?” I asked her.

“Did you know you needed to bring a car seat to the hospital?” she asked again. “Oh, that makes much more sense!” I thought.

“Oh, yes. Yes, we do. We have it. We just need to install it.”

I shook it off pretty quickly, even kind of laughing at myself. Seriously, who hears “casket” for “car seat” other than a loss parent?

I’m not the only one who is still jumpy. At dinner during the snowstorm last week I moved funny and grunted. Our bar stool chairs are getting less comfortable and supportive as the pregnancy progresses. My husband jumped up from his seat, came over to me, and asked, “Are you ok? What was that? Do we need to go to the hospital? I really don’t want to have to go to the hospital in this weather. If we need to go, we should go now.”

I looked over at him and said, “Honey, I’m fine. I’m just pregnant.”

We can’t completely relax, and neither can those around us. Everyone wants a positive outcome with Stitch—our doctors, our families, our friends, and even some complete strangers. We’re all on edge until Stitch is in our arms, at the very least. I’m fine. I’m just pregnant. Stitch is fine. It’s a textbook pregnancy. These are my current mantras. They help, for now.

Share this story!