Saturday, January 21, 2012

Handling Fear

Over the course of this pregnancy, my fear has changed. With that said, it's always been quite present and remains at a steady level (and elevating) as I reach the last month of this pregnancy.

In the first weeks, I was fearful of seeing another empty uterus, or even worse, a baby without a heartbeat. I had just suffered a miscarriage, so the idea of dealing with another D&C or loss was almost too hard to comprehend. I just tried to pretend like I wasn't pregnant, honestly. I was in denial and didn't talk about it or even really entertain the questions from others.

This whole mentality of maybe I am, maybe I'm not remained until about 19.5 weeks when we went in for our anatomy scan. At that point, we both just burst into tears as we left the MFM's office and said, "We just want to bring him home." It started to form more of a reality, but we knew that despite all the vitamins and love and preventative care, we had no control over whether this baby lived or not. No doctor would consider saving a baby at less than 20 weeks gestation.

After reaching 24 weeks, it became even more scary. And then there was 28 weeks. 32 weeks. All these weeks were terrifying because that meant doctors would and could intervene and each week was just icing on the cake. Better chances of survival. Less NICU time. Kristen wrote about how she feared her uterus might be more unsafe than having the baby outside and facing growth on its own in the NICU. That's a sad and scary thing to realize-- but most BLMs who have lost babies in utero probably agree as gestation extends far past viability.

In reality, it's best babies stay in utero and grow there. It's nature's way of babymaking and it's the proper way. But what about when your first baby dies during that "proper" way? You definitely place less faith in that trusty uterus and start having more frequent freakouts. The truth is, despite loss always being loss no matter when in gestation a baby dies, each week makes things harder. Being that much closer to a potential baby in your arms just to lose it again compounds the fear. Getting closer to when Andrew died makes me all kinds of crazy and that's very normal considering our reality of loss.

I try to channel the whole most babies live mentality whenever I can. Babies live despite the crazy people having them doing terribly unsafe things everyday. Everyday babies are born to people I wouldn't consider nearly as deserving as myself or some of the BLMs I've met who are desperate to realize that real-life parenting experience. To see love in their child's eyes and to share the world with them. People who don't even consider kick counts or extra supplements, or extensive ultrasounds, or frequent appointments (or any appointments!) are still having babies alive and healthy. Those people on TV who claim they "didn't even know they were pregnant" and go into labor without a single doctor looking at that baby? They're having healthy babies that come home with them and live with them.

Finding a doctor team who allows for you to be yourself in this fear and supports you is key. An OB and MFM team is helpful because that means more monitoring and more hands-on to reassure you is available. It also helps break up the time better between appointments. The at-home doppler we purchased for about $50 has been a lifesaver as well. In the beginning when the heartbeat wasn't as present, I didn't love it. It made me all kinds of crazy wondering if that was in fact the heartbeat of the baby or my own. Once he grew older, I used it to ease my fears. It's likely saved me from a few OB calls. Sometimes I just pull it out to remind myself that there is life within me. 

But being totally honest, fear is always present and always in the forefront of my mind. Finding things to control has helped considerably-- breathing, writing, yoga, counting the vitamins in your jar (yes, I've done that), writing feverishly on calendars, planning appointments, reading extensively on kick counts, praying for strength and comfort, checklists, finding distractions... whatever can get you through one more day. This is a great time to fulfill those dreams of learning how to reupholster furniture or complete some of those Pinterest crafts you've been meaning to try, or even committing yourself to getting your life organized or learning to cook. Find a BLM or two that is currently pregnant again that can talk with you through those really hard days. You will not stop crying or missing your baby. That does not change just because a new one is currently forming in your womb.

I've also started creating goals. I've read this on many BLM blogs. Set a goal to reach 24 weeks, 28 weeks, etc. I tend to split up days between appointments in my head. For example, I am currently counting down until my growth ultrasound. Once I reach that milestone, I'll place another "goal" at delivery. It's somewhat irrational, but I'd say whatever can get you through this time is worth it. It's not easy. 

I think we'll all channel fear (differently), but ultimately, as long as we're doing right by our babies and taking extra precautions and doing our homework, it's all we can do. The fear of losing our children will likely never go away-- even if and when they are finally safe in our arms. A month away and I'm still in denial about this baby coming home with us. I am none the wiser. We buy plenty of things but the nursery remains just as we left it on the day we came home empty handed from the hospital on December 7, 2010. I can't muster up the courage to tend to that and I don't feel like I have to. All we need is a healthy baby to bring home. Love will be enough. It just has to be. Because at the end of the day, I think it's all I have left to give.

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest


Darcey said... [Reply to comment]

Everything you wrote is so unbelievably true...hoping you are able to find a little bit of sanity here and there throughout the next month.

LauraJane said... [Reply to comment]

Truer words have never been written... It's all abouthe little milestones... Refusing to surrender to the fear you'll be forced to go through all this once again...

I love the quotes- especially the first one..."oh but what if it does?"...

Danielle said... [Reply to comment]

Yours and Elliots love for your sons is all they need! the rest is just details...

Amelia said... [Reply to comment]

Do you find yourself as hungry for information this time? For example, I wanted to know every little thing the doctor was willing to tell me, googling it all for more information each time. But should we become pregnant again, I almost feel like I don't want to know the details. Like, alive or not alive, that's all I want to know. Probably I would change my mind if I was pregnant. I'm just mentally overloaded. I was just curious.

Renel said... [Reply to comment]

It's hard thinking about it getting harder with each week. That is a lot of stress. I get pisses that not only did my daughter die but now all thus stress I'm sure has diminished my life span! Ugh. I like your idea of goals. Focusing on what's in front of you. It like running a marathon. Telling yourself to just get through the next 3 miles and than the next three after those. Sending love

boo and stacy said... [Reply to comment]

So many are blessed with your honesty Brandy!! Thanks for sharing:)

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

I remember people saying when I was about as far along as you "oh you are so close" and yet I felt SO far away. I know this last month will be one crazy emotional time, but I think it's great that you've set goals and that you have a little list of things you'd like to accomplish. So very anxious, and so very excited for your future.

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

Perfectly said.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Yes yes and YES to every word!!! You have said this SO well!!!! hugs...

My New Normal said... [Reply to comment]

This is great, thanks so much for participating in my little blog link up. I think I'll try the whole setting short term goals for myself. Perhaps it will help!

Addi's mom said... [Reply to comment]

Ah, but what if it that!

N. Campbell said... [Reply to comment]

You're always in my prayers ever since I found this beautiful blog. I feel so much love to you and I don't know why!! You'll be the most loving mother ever.

Hannah Rose said... [Reply to comment]

Hi there, I found your blog on the Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope website. I am so sorry for your loss. I'd love to have you follow along on my blog as well: I look forward to reading more of your journey through grief. It's good to know we are not alone.