Today was my last official teaching day of the semester. (I put on a good show for discussion of Hemingway's In Our Time.) Tomorrow I give an assessment test, next week I give final exams and collect final papers.
The academic calendars aren't lining up exactly, but they are close enough to freak me out. Eliza died and was born on the Monday of my last week of classes before winter break in December of 2010. I was 34 weeks and three days pregnant. This last Monday was the Monday of my last week of classes before summer break and I was 31 weeks pregnant.
It's not the same. But it's scary.
You think it's an accident that my NSTs are scheduled for Mondays? It was also one more reason that I needed my mom to go with me since David was out of town. I didn't talk about with the last-week-of-classes things with anybody because I didn't want to say it out loud. But it floated there, in the back of my mind. I needed distraction and kick counts over the weekend, and lots of reassurance on Monday that things were still ok for the Deuce.
My MFM gave me a little pep talk yesterday about trusting myself. I get the feeling my MFM finds me uninteresting. Not as a person (necessarily) but as a patient. I have nothing weird going on. I appear to be having another perfectly normal pregnancy. She emphasizes the safety net that she's put around me due to the mystery of what happened to Eliza, but it makes me a little crazy that there's nothing specific to watch out for, no particular risk we can analyze (except for EVERYTHING, right?). She said she wasn't worried about me because she knew I'd present myself immediately if I thought there were any symptoms that something was wrong. She's right of course--I absolutely will not be shy about marching right up to the hospital if I'm afraid that something is wrong.
But... what if something goes wrong and somehow I don't realize it?
I'm so hypervigilant that it's hard to believe I could start having even the mildest of contractions or stop feeling the baby move and simply be oblivious. Surely I'll know, right?
So even more than asking "What if?" I'm frequently thinking, "How could I not have known before?"
I think back to where I was on December 6th of 2010 (I remember in vivid detail the outfit I wore that day, although I threw away those clothes because I couldn't bear to look at them). I try to recall everything I can about the weekend of December 4th and 5th. I try to remember if there were signs I might have missed, if there was something I did that I could conscientiously avoid doing this time.
I can't come up with anything. Except grading papers, which I'd love to avoid, but which I don't actually believe killed my baby (although sometimes it feels like persistent grammatical errors kill my soul).
And so I redirect my thoughts (I've gotten lots of practice at that) and focus on something I can do, something I can control. I do kick counts (wondering why I didn't do them regularly for Eliza--oh, that's right. Because I didn't think it mattered. I didn't think anything could go wrong. Redirect. Redirect.). I take long walks and I take deep breaths and I eat organic grapes. This is now. This is different. We are watching the Deuce closely. A problem is not going to sneak past us.
I'm actually relieved the semester is over. I was afraid the free time might just give me more time to be anxious, but work makes me TIRED, people, and I'm ready to get started on summer break. I'm supposed to keep showing up at my office until the end of May, which I'm actually really looking forward to. Quiet hours in my office with its nice big windows (nevermind that I only have a view of the roof of the next building over). I'm going to finish writing my article, and I'm going to get all my papers filed neatly (thank you, label maker!), and I'm going to get myself super organized for teaching next spring (I keep a running list of things I want to change for next year--I'm breaking up with Milton, I think. It was just too painful this semester).
I also have a list of projects I'm going to tackle at home. Cleaning out every drawer and cabinet in the bathroom (I will probably detail this for you on the blog because aren't we all wondering what's in other people's bathroom cabinets?). Laundering things that rarely get laundered (like the guest bed duvet cover and the curtains in the back room).
I've also decided that I'm going to go ahead and sort through all of Eliza's bins that we've stored in the attic of the garage. My mom went through a few of them and gave me a list of contents, but I want to move some things around and know exactly what is where. Initially I thought I'd never want to do this before the Deuce gets here, but it's occurred to me that the process will still be hard and I will still miss Eliza even when we bring home the Deuce. So I might as well do it now so I don't have to worry about it when I am (hopefully) worrying about caring for a newborn.
I'm still not planning to bring anything inside or set up anything prematurely, but I will make sure it's all easily accessible.
And I've decided that once I hit 35 weeks, I'm going to buy a few things specifically for the Deuce. We have all the basics covered, but I'm ready to show a little faith that this baby will come home with us. I think I need to.
I pinned this on Pinterest the other day, and it's something I mutter to myself occasionally (because I am a crazy person who mutters to herself, obviously):
So there we are. One more official day of classes. Two days of final exams. Summer break starts. And then the countdown really begins.