Over the last week I’ve felt Sprocket move more and more, to the point where I’ve become concerned that he could be in distress. Last night after an ice cream he kicked over 100 times in two hours. A part of me rationalised that it was caused by the combination of the sweet and cold food, but the nagging ‘What if’ would not be silenced.
‘What ifs’ are so powerful these days. My worries, no matter how unlikely they may be, no matter how small the odds are, are still based on a possibility, and that ‘possibility’ is terrifying. I can’t afford to ignore the possibility that something may be wrong in this pregnancy.
I made the decision to go into Triage for monitoring. The hospital is only a twenty minute drive away and as I set off I felt assured I was making the correct decision. I had a brief moment of concern over whether the nurses would deem me to be wasting their time, but I decided not to care and made a firm decision never to care when it comes to doing what I feel is best to ensure the wellbeing of my baby. I don’t mind being labelled the over-anxious parent because that’s exactly what I am, and naturally so.
The midwife who tended to me was warm and friendly and never once made me feel like my fears were unreasonable. She listened into the baby and assured me that his heartbeat was stable, indicating that he wasn’t in distress. She reassured me that all the movement I was feeling was a positive thing, indicating Sprocket is well.
Nieve never moved this much, ever. I feel racked with guilt that I am so diligent in my care and concern for this baby when I should’ve been as attentive in my pregnancy with Nieve. Maybe then she’d still be here. It’s so hard to know what is normal when you have nothing to compare it to and now that I have experienced Sprocket’s movements which are so frequent and regular, it alarms me that maybe Nieve never moved enough.
If only I could go back in time to that pregnancy, knowing what I know now, monitoring Nieve as much as I do Sprocket. Could it have made a difference? Would she still be here now if I’d rushed up to Triage every time Nieve’s movements were different?
I was aware that movement was important in my last pregnancy, but I don’t think it was ever emphasised to me just how important it was. I regarded stillbirth as rare, a shuddering tradgedy that happened only to ‘other people’. I thought that ultrasound scans were a certainty of a healthy baby and never knew that babies could just ‘die’. Not without warning, without signs or symptoms. Maybe the signs were there but I never knew. That’s something I wonder to myself a lot, it’s a guilt I’ll carry with me always.
This week I was rocked to my very core to learn that another of my loss mum friends has lost her second baby at twenty weeks gestation.
How could this happen? How could it be true? How could life be so cruel as to take not one, but two babies from her? Didn’t fate owe her a happy ending? Weren’t the odds stacked hugely in her favour this time?
The pain of losing a baby is unbearable. How does a person cope with a second tradgedy? I know the effort it took to drag myself back to some kind of life after losing my daughter. The only thing that kept me going was hope for a brighter future, but what if that hope was quashed too? How do you find any ounce of strength to carry on?
How can I help her? Can I help her? Will my own pregnancy cause her heartache? From experience I’d say yes. When I lost Nieve I needed to be a million miles from anyone who was pregnant or had a baby.
Equally, can I cope with supporting her when the truth is that she is a reminder of the fragility of my own pregnancy? I feel so selfish for saying that.
I’m terrified by what has happened to her and I hate myself for that; for making her tradgedy about me when she has suffered so much. The truth is, I can’t help it because I’m still fragile too. I’m absolutely terrified because her loss somehow makes it feel more probable that my own pregnancy will end in tragedy again too.
I need some faith to grip on to, some element of reassurance that my pregnancy will have a different outcome this time. I’ve held on to the knowledge that I’m having extra scans, that I’m diligently monitoring movements, that I take aspirin to help my blood flow to the baby, that surely tradgedy won’t strike twice. But now I feel like my faith has been broken, because for my friend, tradgedy did strike twice and it’s an agonising reminder that none of us are in control.
For my lovely friend, and your two beautiful baby girls, forever missed, forever loved.