Triggers and Milestones

30 weeks + 6 days pregnant 

Ten months after loss

I was 31 weeks pregnant on the day we learned we’d lost Nieve. Of all the memories around that time, the memory of learning that she had died is the most harrowing and the most difficult to recount. There was no warning, no preparation, no bough to break my fall. One moment everything was perfect. Intact. Certain. The next it was all gone. 

Even through my fear when I hadn’t felt her move or been able to detect a heartbeat on my home doppler, I still held on to faith that she was probably ok. Even as we drove to the hospital, even as the midwife fought to find her heartbeat on two different dopplers, even as they loaded up the ultrasound equipment, I still clung to a bit of hope that everything would be fine. Until it wasn’t. 

And that was maybe the hardest part of all; the unexpected nature and the suddenness of it all. At 31 weeks when we were finalising the finishing touches of her homecoming and eagerly anticipating her arrival, everything was torn away in a totally unforeseen and unexpected explosion that suddenly blew my heart into a million pieces. 

I’d had 31 weeks of anticipating, adjusting, expecting, preparing, adapting, envisaging. 31 weeks of attaching to and bonding with my unborn child. To have her taken away so close to the finishing line was agonising and felt punishingly cruel.  

It was this time last year but just six weeks ahead. It’s kind of surreal. The weather is similar, the same light evenings, the same seasonal shows on tv, the same annual events taking place. I look down and see the ‘same’ big bump. Sometimes it feels like it’s the same pregnancy, like I’ve just picked up where I left off. Like the last eight months were just a bad dream. 

When I lost Nieve time no longer had purpose. It was all just an empty black space to survive through and the passing of hours, days and weeks served no relevance. Nothing mattered anymore. Grief occupied all of my time. Time, of course, continued whether I was taking note or not and I sometimes feel shocked to acknowledge that it’s been over ten months since we lost Nieve. 

The memories of losing Nieve still feel so raw and fresh, like it all happened just yesterday, yet the months after have passed by in a blur. The effort of processing such a huge loss has been all consuming and at first I was only functioning at about 5% in the real world. As time has gone on, I have slowly reawakened but I do think there will always be a cap on how much I can sufficiently function again, a limit on how much of my old self I can reconnect with, a ceiling to my happiness. There is a piece of my heart, my head, that will always belong with Nieve. 

This pregnancy has helped me to regain consciousness, to begin to come back to life and it’s like I’m being slowly reawakened. But the pregnancy has come with its own factors to digest; another pregnancy to contemplate, another baby to consider, another tradgedy to apprehend? 

I’m scared to reach 31 weeks. I’ve never had a baby survive longer than that. How could Sprocket be older than his big sister? My brain is flooded by the worry that my body is incapable of supporting a baby past 31 weeks. Like a computer that will shut itself down after a certain time limit. I remember the hysteria surrounding the new millennium and the anticipation of the crash of computer systems. My own fearful anticipation feels akin to that. I’m on tenterhooks and counting down the moments fearing self destruction. Like Cinderella, waiting for the chime of 12 o clock to signify that everything will change. 

I am so thankful once again to the medical professionals supporting me right now. I’ve been offered daily CTG monitoring, thrice weekly scans and fortnightly growth monitoring. I am shown compassion and understanding at every turn and I feel supported beyond what I ever hoped for. 

Crossing the 31 week milestone feels like my next big hurdle but it was always one that would have to be tackled. I’m not sure what to expect when I reach the other side; will I feel relieved? or will I still feel like a delicate ticking time bomb living in fear of detonation? 

On my online pregnancy group most of the ladies are now excitedly anticipating their baby’s arrivals. I feel jealous because it feels somehow that their babies are a guarantee while mine feels like a question mark. They seem so free to expect without caution. One lady proudly posted a picture of her cot and I deeply envied how lucky she was to feel the assurance that a baby would sleep in it. Of course she doesn’t have a guarantee, nobody does, but somehow other pregnant women seem invincible while I feel as fragile as a butterfly’s wing. 

I have an app which counts down these final days until Sprocket’s arrival. 50 days left. 50 days. The final climb to the summit of the mountain. I can see the top clearly, yet it still feels so far away. My energy resources are waning and I’m acutely aware of the huge drop below me. But there is no going back, no time to catch a breath. I’m full of doubts as to whether I have correct equipment to go all the way or whether I have the stamina. But I glimpse at my end goal and I know I’ll find a way. 

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