I wish it was me who repeated that phrase everyday. Touching my belly, laying a small hand quietly over the growing mound and looking upwards and with a whisper of hope and a hint of desperation slowly saying the words, "I just know this one's gonna make it." But is isn't. These are the words of my 6 year year old daughter. It is her daily ritual. More than daily really. She does it whenever she is near me. I can be having a conversation with friends, laying on the couch, talking with my husband, it doesn't matter really where or when, she will walk up and place her hand on me and out it comes, her mantra. She looks into my eyes as she says it and I know she is seeking reassurance from me, waiting for me to tell her, "Yes, you're right, this one is gonna make it." but I can't. I just take her hand, give it a squeeze and tell her, "I sure hope so, Nut, I sure hope so."
I remember the last time I heard those words, last summer. My husband and I had just come out of my 20 week ultrasound with Caleb. We walked out of the doctors office and he took my hand and told me, "Well, now it really feels real. I had held off believing it was going to happen until I saw the ultrasound. Now I feel like this one's gonna make it." He had held off because of the sting of the last miscarriage and the nightmare double D & C' s and hospital stay we'd had only a few months before. But after watching what appeared to be our healthy child bouncing around on the screen and once again letting me convince him not to find out the sex, he felt reassured that we were in the safe zone. That we had survived the challenge of loss and that we would finally get our baby. He asked me for a few of the ultrasound pictures so he could take them to work to show his colleagues and display them on his desk and then he took me to breakfast. I remember sitting at breakfast, still feeling uncomfortable about the outcome, still not believing that everything would be ok. I remember trying to convince myself that I was just being paranoid because of what had happened. I remember thinking about how much the baby was moving during the ultrasound and how I couldn't feel it and telling myself stop worrying when you don't feel movement, it's just not big enough yet to feel every little kick and roll. I remember ordering my eggs over easy (bad pregnant mom, bad girl, I know) that morning and thinking to myself as I mentally stuck out my tongue, take that charma, bleh.
And it was those same mental gymnastics I used in the following weeks when I thought I had stopped feeling the baby move. I could still feel the baby but not the kicks like before. We went on vacation and I poked and prodded and tried like mad to make the baby just give me one good kick. Nothing. My stomach would tighten and then I would feel the whole baby, pressed against my belly and I called my husband over to feel how you could cup your hand around the baby and wasn't it amazing? He started thinking of names, more "C" names to go with our other two. Keep planning, keep hoping, don't listen to that other voice, I kept telling my self each day as I urged the baby to kick like it had before. We got home and I talked to my sister in law, due days apart from me, she was having the same doubts. She had actually called her OB and they had brushed her off telling her at 20-23 weeks the baby can turn and you may not feel anything because it is still so small. You have to wait until it is bigger before you will feel the kicks with any regularity. I tried to listen to that, to take comfort in that. She didn't go in and get checked, why should I? I was just being paranoid, a worry wart, nothing more.
My OB called later that week and told me that they wanted a second ultra sound. Nothing was wrong she told me at least 5 or 6 times, they just didn't have a good picture of some of the organs because the baby was moving so much during the last ultra sound. Nothing is wrong. Nothing is wrong. I wanted to tell her about my fears but my son was in the car(where I was when she called) and I figured they would see if anything was wrong when I came in so why worry him. Nothing is wrong.
When I did go in for that ultrasound, something was wrong. very wrong. It was over. He was gone. My every fear had come true, my worst nightmare had become my reality. I lay on the examining table, belly exposed, lights dim, air conditioner whirring, my eyes focused on the vent in the ceiling, hand covering my mouth as I sobbed. The ultra sound machine, silent. Still. Birth.
Tomorrow, we, the husband and I, go in for my 18 week ultra sound. In a perfect world, we would be excited, giddy with anticipation, anxious to see our baby and have a moment to bond with this little creature. When I was pregnant with my daughter, we took our son with us to the ultra sound so he could see the baby while it was in mommy's tummy. But I don't live in a perfect world, never did really. But the one I used to live in didn't have dead babies in it, at least not dead babies that happened to me...or anyone I knew. Or so I thought.
My world now is filled with dead babies. Mine and those of so many others, countless others. Ultra sounds to me are not times of joy and excitement. They are times filled with dread and anxiety. I get physically ill walking into the ultra sound room. Hell, I get physically ill thinking about walking into the ultrasound room. My husband is coming with me not out of excitement but so I won't be alone, just in case, you know, just in case. I wouldn't dream of bringing my kids with us to the ultrasound, not even to the waiting room. I want them far away, some place safe and warm, where they are protected from all things bad. Just in case.
And even if everything looks ok tomorrow, I know I will take no comfort in it. I know it is just ok for that moment. That things will happen, things can happen and an ultrasound can't tell me when or if. All it can tell me is if my baby is still alive in that instant. And hopefully that everything is where it should be, healthy. Alive and healthy. Is that so much to ask? Maybe.
But oh, how I wouldn't love to be able to say those words, just once and really mean it, really know it, really believe it to be true, how I wish it was me who was saying, "I just know this one's gonna make it."