The days are long and hot and sleep, restful sleep anyway, is hard to come by. The time is fast approaching, the time when I lost Caleb. I think I know the night he died. I remember a sudden flurry of kicking. I remember a fleeting thought, what if the baby is choking and I remember dismissing it as ridiculous paranoia. I remember hitting the 20 week point in his pregnancy and thinking, "Ha!, no chance of a miscarriage for me anymore." The thought of a stillborn child lingering in the quiet corner of my mind, dismissed again, as ridiculous paranoia.
In the days after those rapid fire kicks I felt, I convinced myself that our baby was still okay despite the fear I felt rising inside of me. As each day passed without his regular nighttime exercise routine, I told myself it would be okay, the baby had just turned the other way and I could not feel the kicks the same way. I thought about all the kicking I had seen during the ultrasound only a week before and I had felt none of it. Babies don't die, I told myself. At least mine don't, that would never happen to me. But it did.
Now as I have hit the 20 week point with this pregnancy, every time I feel this baby kick I wonder, will it be the last time? When are you going to die? When is the rug going to be pulled out from under me? Today driving in the car with my two not so little anymore kids, my son, out of the blue asked me, "How is the baby doing?" . I was having a morning where I hadn't felt the baby yet and had worked myself into a state of hidden panic, desperate to eat something to encourage movement, and I did not know how to answer him. So I said, "Are you worried?" And he told me he was. I wonder how long he has been waiting to ask me that question and I wonder if my answer made him worry more. I told him I was worried too. But that we thought for now, the baby was ok. My daughter piped in with, "That's why I always have my fingers crossed. To keep the baby safe.". I drove my anxiety filled car home and shoved some food into my belly and sure enough, kicks, little kicks that said to me "Hello, I'm still in here, alive and, well, kicking." Reassurance, yes, for a few moments and then it will come back. The fear. Was that it? Have you died now? Are you gone from me forever?
I know there will never be a time with this pregnancy where I ever feel any guarantee that it will all be alright. In my successful pregnancy's I know I worried, (I am a worrier by birth right) but I think I was just arrogant enough to believe that really, the bad things never happened to me. I am not arrogant anymore. I ate one huge, not slice, but one whole humble pie the morning my Caleb was born still. I know the bad things do happen to me and that there is nothing stopping them from coming around for a repeat visit.
The fear isn't ordinary or imagined, it is born of real life terror. It comes from a place within I hadn't known existed before I held my dead son. It makes my previous lifetime of worry pale in comparison. "Before", I worried about things that I thought might happen, things I could conjure up, things that happened to other people and I wondered and worried could they happen to me. Now I worry about the things that happened to me. I don't have to conjure or imagine, I only have to remember, I only have to look at the tiny footprints, the tiny hand prints, the death certificate. Now there is no convincing myself that these things don't happen to me, there is no talking myself down from the ledge. Now the worry has earned a permanent place in the forefront of my thoughts. I tell myself the worry won't, can't make it not happen, the worry won't, can't make it happen, the worry does nothing but take, take, take. And yet I can not stop it. The fear, the terror, the worry.
I don't know if the worry will subside if I make it past where I lost Caleb, my inner voice and past life tell me no it will not. I'd like a day where I can just enjoy this pregnancy, where I can feel confident in my body's ability to safely nurture a child to full term...I'd like to be innocent again. But I can not.
Instead, I will spend these next few days and hopefully these next 18 or so weeks, alternating between the moments of calm that come when this baby sends me a message of hope, kicked out in baby Morse code, and the times filled with anxiety when I feel nothing, but the fear.