It's a bit unsettling, walking out of your doctors office after your last prenatal appointment. Knowing it was the last. I'm sure for them it's normal, "OK, see ya, good luck!" but not for me. It's the realization that you're on your own. They've done what they can now it's up to me and this baby to get through the next few days and show up at the hospital where my doctor will, hopefully, deliver a healthy baby into my arms.
Similar words were shared as I left the stress testing office. "Promise to bring the baby by after, o.k.?" they asked, while I thought in my head, "...if...". Out loud, "Sure thing." One of the most bold faced lies a db mom can make, right? "Sure thing." There's no such thing.
Even with all of the uncertainty, I still find myself feeling melancholy about nearing the end here. Before I entered this club being pregnant was one of the best times of my life. I've always had easy pregnancy's and I loved the transformation of my body and the feeling of a life stirring inside me. Amazing how carrying your dead child inside you and then delivering him can change that. The anxiety has taken much of that away, replacing it with anxiety over whether the kick I just felt would be the last or if I am feeling nothing at all spending anxious minutes or more desperate to provoke some movement to reassure me that there is still life within me. Now though, I am spending as much time as I can just sitting and watching my belly move. Feeling this life inside me, trying to burn the memory of it into my brain. Knowing I will never again feel anything like this. Knowing this is truly the end of my life as a pregnant woman. In the back of my mind I mull over the idea of it not being over. If I was younger, if...and then I realize, I will never feel like I have finished because I will always be one child short of where I should be. One child will always be missing and so this journey will never feel complete. Not even if I had 10 more kids. There is no way to fill the void left by a child's death. Anyone who ever says to a parent who has lost a child that by having another child you are somehow moving on and letting go has never held their dead baby or child in their arms, has never experienced the penetrating grief of burying a baby, has never had to live the life after, and will never understand that a life, any life, but especially a baby's life is not replaceable or interchangeable. The impact of a child's life is not measured in the length of days it lives and to believe otherwise shows only ignorance and callousness.
So here I sit, marveling in this little one as he or she moves inside me, seemingly unaware of all that has surrounded it's journey. I try to picture who it is that has occupied my body all these days, given me what would be considered an easy pregnancy by anyone who hasn't been where I've been. And yet it's been the hardest pregnancy I've ever had. I hope, along with all of the other things I hope for, that when this baby comes out, if everything goes right, I will be able to untangle this baby from all the strings and ties that are wrapped around it's very existence. But I wonder, will I ever really see this child and not think about Caleb.
It's a hefty burden from all sides. One I hope I am strong enough to carry for both of us. Which makes me realize, again, how grateful I am for all of the support I have received here. From those who have been here with me literally since my first post to those who we met along the way. We have all worked, worked like hell, to figure this all out. We get up and we go on and we fight on and sometimes we get knocked back down and still we keep fighting. Together. It is a woman's work, the fight to go on. And you all have shown me how to do it. Even when we don't know how, we at least have been able to look around and know that we are not fighting alone. Strength in numbers. Never has that made more sense to me than it has here. For all of you who have shown me the grace and fortitude of the will and strength of women, this one below, is for you.