Monday, May 21, 2012

Week 34

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.



  1. I wish I had some reassurance to give you.

    All you need is a snippet of foreshadowing that all will be okay. A flash of what your reality will be like at the end of 5 more weeks.

    But unfortunately we don't get that and instead are left worried sick and eating plenty of (totally justified) gelato.

    Soon. But not soon enough. Thinking of you all-- all four of you.

  2. I've been feeling exactly the same way lately. I can't trust myself yet I have to rely on myself to know if something is wrong this time. Like you I was blissfully unaware when things went wrong last time. I feel like if I don't stay vigilant then things will go wrong again and I will have let everyone down again. The Hubby tells me not to be silly, but that's how I feel. Like I failed him once and can't do it again.

    I'm just hoping that we both get our happy endings this time! Because we sure do deserve them!

  3. Hugs and good thoughts from this end!

  4. Sending many hopeful thoughts to you.

    Don't beat yourself up about not doing kick counts with Eliza. You were blissfully unaware of the very bad things that can happen during pregnancy. My doctor reassured me that even if I had gotten to the hospital when I felt no movement, it was likely too late, which usually seems to be the case in stories I've read. He said that by the time they would have prepped me for delivery/surgery...she'd have been gone, if not already.
    But, I totally understand where you are coming from. And I hope that you continue to have reassurance from your baby's constant movements and are able to keep your worrying down to a minimum. Keeping you in my thoughts...

  5. Brooke, wow. I so get you on this. I wish I was there to give you a hug, for both of us.

    I feel every word you wrote, especially right now.

    It feels like the weight of the world, no, greater than the weight of the world--your child's life, on your shoulders, and yours alone, all the time.

    I melted this weekend, too, because we are so close and because we had to deal with another 20th, a Sunday, just like the day she died and I was completely panicked.

    I have said so many times that I can't wait until he gets here, just so other people can start to watch him too. The hypervigilance is so beyond exhausting, it's impossible to describe.

    I'm ready for him to come, not have any issues, and let my mom and my husband watch him, and the nurses, and take a nap after my c-section.

    Other than him alive, that's all I want. Is that sad?

    Thinking of you. You can do this. You are strong. You have been through the worst. You can do this.

  6. Oh Brooke, my heart breaks reading this post. I lost Ava at 34 weeks and 6 days, and am 18 (ish) weeks into my next pregnancy. I completely understand the frustration and blame you place on yourself for not knowing what was going on with Eliza. I think it is normal. Deuce feels your love, attention and will thrive within in just as Eliza did. One moment and one breathe at a time is the only way to survive a week such as this.

    I will be thinking of you each and every day.

  7. What happened to Eliza is NOT your fault. You are NOT a failure. God wanted her with Him and there is NOTHING that you could've done to change that. Things don't always work out the way we plan them to, but God's plan is bigger than ours. Eliza is alive and well, just not here on this earth the way that you hoped for and planned. Instead she lives eternally where you will be with her someday. Chin up and hang in there.

  8. Yep, I know these thoughts. "wait, I'm in charge again? but my body and I f-ed this up last time. can't somebody else be in charge?"

    If we can just get through the next few weeks with living healthy babies, then we will be able to hand them over to the husbands and not be responsible for a few minutes sometimes. Just a few minutes. That would be so nice. This hyper-vigilance is exhausting.

    Also, I wanted to say that at my NST this morning, I was thinking about being almost to 34 weeks, and I thought how it must be an extra-hard week for you - then came home to see this post. Hope it goes by as well as possible and that the Deuce gets at A+ on his tests this week, too.

  9. Ugh. It's so terrifying and exhausting and I wish I could say something that would make you feel even the smallest bit better or more reassured.

    I know it's hard not to blame yourself for Eliza. I'd be hypocritical to tell you not to. But if you believe that same logic, than surely you know it was YOU who also gave her life. And look at what an incredible life it was and the lasting impact she left on so many. Thanks to you, her life had meaning.

    Hang in there.

    PS - I'm glad the Deuce hates Joffrey as much as I do.

  10. Blogger just ate my post! Agh!!! I'll write later on a computer instead of this $&@); phone!

  11. I hate that feeling where you can't trust your body or yourself because look what happened last time. I have been there. And that is one thing that having a healthy baby and relatively normal (albeit stressful) pregnancy does give you back, in a way. Holding Deuce will be the biggest relief you've ever felt in your life, but sad in a way, too, because then you think "why couldn't it have just been like this, last time?"

    I can assure you that even if you had been doing kick counts, were very vigilant to Eliza's movements, etc., it likely wouldn't have changed anything, but you still would find something to feel guilty about. So many times I used to feel guilty for not dying too, even though there was never really a her or me option anyway.

    I hope this week goes by quickly for you and is not as difficult as you expect.

  12. Ugh at the anonymous comment. I know they mean well, but BLECH.

  13. ((hugs)) I remember being so emotional when I hit the week I lost Lily during Ian's pregnancy, it's such a difficult milestone. You're doing great managing such an impossible time and trying to cope with the emotions that come with it. I still at times go through the what ifs in my mind and also feel the whole I should have known better and wishing I could have changed what happened, it's so hard. Wish I could offer more comforting words, just wanted you to know I understand and remember how hard this milestone is. Wishing you comfort, peace and that soon in good time you'll be holding a healthy baby.

  14. 1. I second Angela's second comment.

    2. Thinking of you, wishing and hoping and sending all those good vibes so that these last weeks pass uneventfully.


  15. Praying that they next several weeks pass so quickly for you. Thinking of you always

  16. Oh, Brooke. I'm thinking of you and Eliza and The Deuce and sending so much love to you as you get through this week. Those "what ifs" are so very hard to wrestle with, and guilt never seems to be far away from a babylost parent anyway.

  17. Hang in there, Brooke, just a few weeks more... (((HUGS)))

  18. I, too, agree with Angie's second comment!

  19. Brooke, definitely thinking about you this week and hoping that you get lots of reassurance from kick counts and great NSTs and from that great guy you married.

    I have a great book about cognitive behavioral therapy (the Feeling Good Handbook) and in it, he talks about being able to identify different types of twisted thoughts as a first step in improving your self-talk (and eventually how you feel). And "should" statements are one type of twisted thinking -- "I shouldn't have made so many mistakes." You did the best you could do. You are doing the best you can do. I know the loss will always be with you, but I hope that the guilt won't be.

    I remember the stress of feeling like all the responsibility was on me to know if something was wrong in those final weeks. It's really hard. Hang in there.

  20. I just want it to be the end of June and Deuce nestled in your arms. For realz.

    Such a terrifying time, but this is not your fault. Not ever.

    Thinking of you.

  21. Looks like you are due around the same time if not the same day as my son was.

    My thoughts are with you. I know the feeling of failure, especially recently losing my third sweet angel baby. I wish I could give comforting advice but its hard to say "do this.." when its hard, myself, to take such advice, you know?

    I wish you only the best and can't wait to see those beautiful pictures of the Deuce. <3

  22. I get it. Should I ever get pregnant again I will have to fight the urge to Not Tell Anyone. If they don't know, I will be the only one heartbroken if everything goes wrong. I will save them from this fate.
    I wish I had magic words for you. Light and love, continuously being sent,

  23. This is the most accurate account of pregnancy after loss that I've read in a long time. This is just it, Brooke. You summed it up perfectly. People would say, don't worry it won't happen again, but it happened once, why couldn't it happen again? As I had no idea what to look out for, as I missed whatever it was the first time. She was moving, then she was not. She went from alive to dead pretty damn quick without warning. And I figured so what if I was getting lots of extra monitoring, it didn't mean the next baby/ies wouldn't die as soon as I stepped out of the appointment. I was a mess, just as you describe you are now and it felt too much to bear. I wished Simon could carry my babies for the last trimester. I felt so very done with it all and like it was too much on my shoulders all over again. Though I had so much support like you, it is such an isolating experience. Thank god for the internetz.
    Sending you all the love I have.

  24. Sending you lots of hugs, this is a difficult and it's ok to have all the feeling you are having. Hang in there.

  25. Living in limbo is tough. It just feels like an eternity doesn't it?

    Brooke- what happened to Eliza is not your fault, I hope that some part of you knows that. I know often times I feel responsible for what happened to G as well. It is an excruciating burden to carry. I just keep telling myself that I did the best with the knowledge that I had at the time. You are a good mother to Eliza. Truly.