Ames and Simone.

by Alexa on January 15, 2008

It is always something, but rarely the something you expect. Don’t you find that to be true? I expected another first trimester miscarriage, and when that didn’t happen, I shifted my morbid focus to preterm labor. I read studies and memorized statistics. Now I keep thinking I prepared for the wrong thing. I didn’t prepare for this. This particular tragedy never occurred to me, was so far from my mind that when the nurse couldn’t get a picture of cardiac activity on the ultrasound yesterday, and left to get the doctor, I thought my baby was merely uncooperative and sleepy. He was in a strange position, down by my cervix, his little elbow and shoulder resting there, his arm over his head.

They tell me he died maybe three days ago—a Friday. They point out the small accumulations of fluid in his chest, the thickening of skin around his brain, his swollen umbilical cord, bloated and looking, I think, like link sausage, or DNA. Signs that he has been dead for more than a day. Two weeks ago he was “ideal.” They checked his heart, his brain, his kidneys, all of his baby parts, and everything was, they said, “perfect.” It just goes to show you. I don’t know what, exactly, but something about counting your chickens, or how hope is a winged thing that is always flying into your windshield.

I don’t think this post is going to make a tremendous amount of sense, which is fitting somehow, because none of this makes any sense to me at all. I miss my baby. His name was Ames. I wasn’t going to give the babies their names until they made it to viability, but I changed my mind. Ames was a good baby, he deserves his name. My poor little boy. Now, in the place I thought I felt him kicking, I can feel his sister. I wonder whether I ever felt him at all.

Last night a grief counselor called me to set up a time to make a birth plan. I am confused until she explains that I will be delivering both babies, though Ames will be only a pound and will have undergone some euphemistic changes. She tells me I might like to start thinking about whether I want him buried or cremated. Frankly there are few things I want less to think about. I would like Ames to be born live and squalling and covered with whatever disgusting substance babies are born covered with. That was my birth plan.

Usually in these cases they never find a cause, or so they tell me. They will analyze the placenta, because sometimes there is a problem there. They will check his chromosomes. But probably it will remain a “mystery.” I think “mystery” is a poor word choice, personally, because it makes it sound intriguing, and there is nothing intriguing about a dead baby. I am assured his death was caused by nothing I did, but this does not stop me from asking about every medication I have taken. I wonder about the days I forgot to take my baby aspirin. I wonder whether it was weaning off the prednisone, or being on the prednisone in the first place. I wonder how I am supposed to believe this has nothing to do with me when my body has failed four consecutive pregnancies. I wonder about a lot of things.

I hope it is not distracting, this writing in short paragraphs. I am not quite myself, and linking things together in a long entry, with a narrative, is beyond me at the moment. Probably you will be hearing a lot from me this week, because I am on modified bedrest, and it is very quiet here, and Scott and I don’t seem to know what to say to each other just yet.
You are always here for me during difficult times, and it means so much. Yesterday, after the ultrasound, the nurse left me alone to call Scott, and after I made that call, one of the worst I have ever made, my next impulse was to see if the medical records computer on the table could connect to the internet, so that I could post here. That sounds odd, but there you are. Your support has held me up.

A year ago, to the day, I was in beta hell, waiting for confirmation that my third pregnancy was doomed. The January before Scott and I had nearly separated over the question of whether to pursue fertility treatment. The January before that was my second miscarriage. January is a terrible month. I am terrified that this month is not done with me, that I will lose my little girl before the end of it. On January 25th I will be 24 weeks—the barest edge of viability. Ten more days.

They tell me there is a good chance that Simone will be fine (that is her name, Simone—she is a good baby too) but, now, how am I to believe that? How? I am on modified bedrest because I have been having a lot of contractions. Monday’s appointment had originally been scheduled for this Friday, but I moved it up because of the contractions, and an increase in discharge, and my general impatience. The contractions probably started when Ames died, though of course I didn’t know that at the time. Because Ames is Baby A, and is nearest to my cervix, there is a concern about preterm labor, or infection, or god knows what else.
“It is better when the upper baby is affected,” said my peri. Better.

Simone is transverse across the top of my uterus, kicking and wiggling obligingly. She waved at me on the ultrasound, and then opened her tiny mouth. I saw her eyeball, her chin. I just need her to live. Please. My dear girl. Sometimes she kicks hard enough that I can see it from the outside. I wonder what it is like for her in there, now. I am carrying one live baby and one dead one, and if I am very, very lucky, I will continue to do so for 14 more weeks. It hurts to think about.

They took blood yesterday to test for clotting factors, and warned me that having so much “non-living tissue” in my uterus can cause clotting issues that may endanger me and Simone. They will keep checking for the next six to eight weeks—after that “the risk is minimal.” Six to eight weeks.
I haven’t yet reached my peri’s danger-threshold of more than six contractions an hour, and yesterday my cervix was long (on transabdominal ultrasound). But I can’t relax, and I think I will call tomorrow and ask to sit on the monitors for a bit. Sometimes my belly stays so hard for so long I can’t tell if it is a contraction or something else. And six seems like such an arbitrary number. What if I am having six contractions an hour and can only feel four of them? I need to find out whether it is too late for P17 shots to calm my uterus. I need to buy a thermometer. It is hot in my apartment, and I am always overwarm, but now I am terrified of fever signaling infection.

I need a plan. I think we made one yesterday, but I don’t remember much of it now. I remember they promised to monitor me closely. I remember that starting at 28 weeks, should I get that far, they will do weekly biophysical profiles, and if Simone shows any signs of distress they will deliver. I remember they said she is likely to be born early, and I remember worrying about lung maturity, because of my gestational diabetes, and I remember that when I thought of my gestational diabetes I felt like screaming, because how many more ways can this pregnancy be high risk? And I remember the peri telling me that if I managed to get to 36 or 37 weeks they would do an amnio to check the lungs and deliver me then. But there are so many days to get through before 36 weeks, and information about outcomes is scarce. If any of you know of anyone who had a similar story, please write and tell me. I am starved for information.

And I am angry. I suppose that is to be expected, but waiting for the elevator after everything I saw another pregnant woman and thought bitterly that probably everyone in her body was still breathing, and probably she didn’t have two overflowing sharps containers on her counter, either. Probably she wasn’t still throwing up hard enough to cause nosebleeds, and probably her hair always does exactly as she asks. I am glad I don’t believe in god, because I think I would have marched straight to the nearest crossroads and sold my soul. I miss my baby, and it isn’t fair. Many of you have lost babies, and it isn’t fair. So many people want children and can’t have them, and that isn’t fair either. I demand that my other baby live. I have had just about enough of this.

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