Friday, April 17, 2015
The Hardest Thing.
But mostly I'm always just thinking, I hope my baby is alive.
"You met me at a very strange time in my life."
I read somewhere that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events. I'm pretty sure stillbirth qualifies.
At my doctor's appointment last week my blood pressure was elevated. It was the third time I had called in as many days. Just to be seen. Just to have someone else in charge. Just for a minute.
I remember telling myself as they started the Pitocin, "This is the hardest thing you will ever have to do." I remember repeating it, over and over as I received the epidural, hunched over and shaking and holding tightly to your father's hand. It was all they could do to lessen the pain. The physical pain, that is. There would be no lessening of any other type.
I said it again with each announcement of progression. Three centimeters. Then four. Then six. I remember that it felt like some sick joke. Living what are supposed to be the most joyful, anticipatory moments of a life, and thinking how I didn't care. Just get me to the end. Just get through it.
But I was wrong then, in that room. It was not the hardest thing.
Two nights ago I had a dream. I was sitting in my classroom when a microwave sounded. I ran to open it, but nothing was inside.
I woke in a rush and I glanced at the clock. 3 am.
We stood in the living room together. Half asleep, he placed one hand on my wrist, checking my pulse, which was rising by the second. Shaking, I held the Doppler, searched his eyes.
"They're the same, aren't they?"
"I can't tell. I think that's the baby. I think yours is faster."
"No," I corrected. "It's gone. I know it." Frantically my hands searched, pushing around on my abdomen in haste, gel spilling onto the hardwood. I could hear the heartbeat in my mind. Faster. Healthy. Only this one was still too slow. Had to be. I lay on the couch, willing the movement to come, and he sat by my feet, saying nothing. After five more agonizing minutes I felt a kick.
"There!" I said. "There it is!" He sighed, and although he had remained calm I could see the relief pooling in his eyes. I realized that my anxiety, my heightened awareness of this impending doom was no longer solely affecting me.
"Nora, you've got to stop this." And I know he is right, but I can't. Can't stop reliving it. Can't stop bracing for it. I think of the baby hats I recently purchased, only I'm not placing them on any head. I'm laying them, gently, into a plastic tub.
And so we went back to bed. Together. Neither of us saying a word. Both of us grateful for this night, both of us picturing the one where the kicks never come.
And we tossed and we turned, and the baby tossed and it turned. And no one could get back to sleep. And my alarm sounded ninety minutes later.
And when I got to work someone asked how I was doing, and I smiled and I said "one day at a time."
And I'm thinking to myself, that is also untrue. That lately, it's more like one minute.