V-I-A-B-I-L-I-T-Y!! I practically turned this into a cheer the morning I woke up 24 weeks pregnant. This means that our son has more than a 50% chance of survival if he were to be born today. This means that the medical community has our back and they will take every life-saving measure possible for our baby if I were to go into early labor or have any other complications right now.

Shannyn's 24-week bump: A Fighting Chance

Author’s Personal Collection/Shannyn Hanson

This may be the single most important milestone to us after losing Sophie – outside of bringing our baby home.

Oddly enough, unless you’ve experienced a loss, this is a milestone that may pass by without a second thought. I don’t remember thinking about the significance of 24 weeks during my pregnancy with Sophie until we were discussing her survival and morbidity rates after my water broke. That whole week before she was born felt like an out-of-body experience. We didn’t even have the chance to meet our baby yet and we were already discussing concerns about her survival and quality of life: lung development, brain development, muscular development, and more. All of our worst fears were coming true, but if I could just keep her growing until 24 weeks, we could give her a better shot and cling to hope.

Sophie was born at 22 weeks. She was so close.

We were so close to being able to fight for her. Something that sends me over the edge in grief most days is whether I fought hard enough for her. Could we have done more? Could I have held off labor longer? Should we have pushed the hospital staff harder? This week in my life replays in my head over and over, searching for faults, missteps, and missed opportunities. It’s the ultimate form of torture. That experience has forever changed me to the core and Sophie has forever changed me as a mother. I love her even more because of that and I hope she knows that we did the best we could.

I am also so grateful to have the opportunity to carry our son. While we know that 24 weeks still doesn’t guarantee anything, it means we will have that chance to fight for him. And I’ve never been more prepared to fight for anything in my life. This week has been full of reflection, grief, and joy, but I can feel our crazy boy tumbling and wiggling around as I write this so that gives me reassurance that he is growing strong and can stay comfortable in there for 16 more weeks.

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