Today I’m 30 weeks pregnant, and tomorrow is our first non-stress test (NST) and biophysical profile (BPP) with baby Finch. In other words, tomorrow is the day I jump back into the fire.
To me, an NST isn’t just an opportunity to see/hear the heartbeat and be reassured. A BPP isn’t simply another fun opportunity to see the baby… You see, Matthew died in the hospital as I was strapped to the NST machine… No matter the talk therapy and positive thinking and relaxation activities, this isn’t a trauma one recovers from. Ever.
So to me an NST equates to listening to every beat, teeth gritted in terror at any trend downward. Is this a normal deceleration, or will it keep falling? Is this the dip that signals the end? Or the subtle cue foreshadowing future distress?
I don’t feel I can trust my doctors, at least not fully. For ~12 hours a team of them told me my son was fine. And then he died. Thus I assess the printed tracings myself, so I can be prepared to advocate for myself and for Finch, admit myself to the hospital, and possibly help make a crucial call on timing of this C-section, if, heaven forbid, we don’t make it to our scheduled date (which I also selected). Any pressure they feel in their high-stress job, I feel it one million fold, as this is my child, and they failed me once already, providing endless false reassurances.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t think, had they acted differently, we would have realized a different outcome. I believe Matthew would still be dead. But their actions and inactions have definitely impacted the way I have experienced his death and every single day since, especially as it relates to pregnancy.
Last Monday morning I awoke at 3:00am. We’ve reached this time now – the point at which, if I awaken during the night, I must count kicks before I can rest again. On this particular night, I didn’t count what I perceived was enough until 4:30am. In between I contemplated my first trip to the Maternity Trauma Center… I would have had to go alone. The thought was almost too much and all of the memories from Matthew’s pregnancy and Joel’s pregnancy flooded back in – for the first time during this pregnancy, I had to relive it all in detail again, but then I was lucky enough to not have to go, but now, I’ve reached this time when I will be getting the NSTs multiple times per week, every week, until the end.
There is no avoiding the repeat trauma.
Mark confided in me this morning, “I’m scared – I don’t know if I can handle this.”
I’m scared too. It’s been more than two years of trauma and repeat trauma and grief and sadness, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and a lot of life changes and joy in between. I’m tired. Although I have a happy pregnancy outcome in my past, and this helps, it’s countered by the pure exhaustion I feel. I’m worried I’m not as sharp now, nervous that although Joel’s an amazing distraction, he’ll distract me too much, and this exhaustion combined with distraction will cause me to miss something crucial, something potentially life saving.
But I think we can handle this. After what we’ve already been through, I think we can.