This is it.
We are 34 weeks in.
We lost Eliza at 34 weeks 3 days.
It's not like I've ever lost track of where I am in this pregnancy. But for the past few days, the timeline is all I can think about.
My coping method has been to keep busy-busy-busy, and then anytime I have a spare moment (or I've worn myself completely out) and I sit down, I whip out the cell phone and do a kick count for reassurance.
Over the weekend, we cleaned out the shed, reorganized our closet, mostly emptied the guest room closet, reorganized wrapping paper storage, ruthlessly gathered a zillion things to donate to charity (including seven pairs of my shoes AND some books, both of which I find very difficult to part with), watched four episodes of Game of Thrones, planted flowers, moved the chickens from their tub in the garage to their coop, walked the dogs at the park, and made a run to Target specifically to purchase gelato. I finished reading a novel (Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca--I can't believe I waited this long to read it. I totally loved it) and immediately started another one (I'm rereading A Room With a View).
I also did about a dozen kick counts, and burst into tears at least five times.
There are so many things that are reassuring about The Deuce and this pregnancy. Lots of activity, including some kicks and movements that are so intense, especially up by my ribs, that they cross that weird line where tickling becomes painful but still makes you laugh. I have a non-stress test scheduled for this afternoon and another on Thursday. Every NST has been reactive since we hit 32 weeks. My amniotic fluid level has been well within the normal range every time. The Deuce has never failed to give me ten kicks in an hour, and most of the time it takes less than 10 minutes to get ten kicks. So even though I am hyperaware of everything that could go wrong, my vigilance always meets with reassurance.
And so I wonder why I wasn't more vigilant last time. I wonder why I can't remember the way Eliza moved. I wonder what signs were there that I should have seen.
Why wasn't I doing kick counts with Eliza that last weekend?
Why wasn't her movement the last thing I thought about before I fell asleep and the first thing I thought about when I woke up?
How could she have slipped away without me paying attention?
It makes me feel like such a failure. Worse than that, like I failed her. I let her down. I was distracted, oblivious, naive. I thought I was smart and well-read and highly informed. But in the worst kind of irony, as I was trying to read and absorb everything I needed to know about pregnancy and birth and having a new baby, I missed some crucial sign that something was wrong with my baby.
My OB tells me that this is a new chapter. But I can't stop flipping back in time and wondering what I missed, what I should have known. It's the worst part of not knowing what happened to her, of not having answers. Because maybe there was nothing I could have done.
But maybe there was something. And I just didn't do it.
So in between my various household projects, I'm paying attention to every kick, every hiccup, every movement. I know my doctors are watching these tests carefully. I know that I can call my OB or our doula anytime I'm worried. But that doesn't change the fact that I have to make the call, I have to be the one who realizes that the Deuce needs help. It sounds melodramatic, but it honestly feels like the only thing standing between where we are now and losing the Deuce this week is my vigilance.
It's an exhausting and terrifying responsibility, to try to guard a child that I can't see or hear or touch. To make judgment calls based on physical sensations that I am constantly second guessing. To have to trust my intuition when it's that intuition precisely that failed me last time. We are so close and the stakes are so high. We've reached the point where everything depends on me knowing whether something feels wrong.
And we all know what a great job I did with that responsibility last time.
When I had a huge meltdown about this over the weekend, David kept telling me, "We're in this together." And I know that's true. I know that he worries about and loves this baby as much as I do. After all that we've been through, I absolutely know that I can count on having him next to me no matter what.
But it's not quite the same level of responsibility, you know? Because if something goes wrong, I let him down, too. Again.
He can sit with his hands on my belly and feel the Deuce kick (in righteous indignation at how horrible King Joffrey is on Game of Thrones), but he's not in a position to potentially save this baby by realizing that something is wrong, that the movement has slowed, that there are signs of pre-term labor. I'm the only one who can do that.
And I am really scared that I'm going to miss something.