Monday, August 31, 2015

34 Weeks

On Saturday, I officially clocked in 34 weeks with this pregnancy. It was a moment of victory for my obstetrician, I am sure, who has been fretting about all of the pre-term contractions and early dilation for some time now.

For me, it is a bag of very mixed emotions. Chief among them, certainly, is relief. If everyone's concerns had been better founded, making it to 34 weeks would be a true miracle in that every week longer and closer to term- especially when pre-term labor is looking like a possibility from 28 weeks on- is a huge bonus for Baby in many, many, ways.

However, though things seemed to start off just differently enough this time with Little Squish than with her brother and sister before her, it's all seeming like old news to me now.

This pregnancy has been the toughest from the start. All horrible pregnancy symptoms aside, I knew it would be difficult based on the anxiety alone, which after two losses in a year's time has proved incredibly difficult to control. But on top of that, the nausea was the most pervasive and most resistant to any attempt at relief, the exhaustion was fierce and only slightly abated once I crossed into the third trimester (at which point I am dealing with other issues that slow me down even more), and those pesky pre-term contractions showed up earlier than ever, at around 24 weeks, and started causing changes to my cervix by week 28. Though the nausea ended sooner than every other pregnancy (by 11 weeks or so) it was immediately replaced by near-constant and fairly awful heartburn, which I have just finally conceded to getting under control with medication. I can only take so much, after all.

However, scary as it was to find myself half a centimeter dilated at 28 weeks, it's much less concerning now to be one centimeter at 34. The slight change that has occurred has been very gradual over the last six weeks, and has not appeared in combination with any effacement or evidence of fetal fibronectin (every test taken for that has been negative), which seems to me an indication that the scenario proving most likely to play out at this point is that I will be in this thing for the long haul. If my doctor has her way, that "haul" will be no longer than 39 weeks, at which point I will be summarily induced to ensure that it is a doctor's hands who catch my newest baby, rather than my panicked husband's.

Should she ultimately decide to come a bit sooner than that (because it seems that no matter what my body may be trying to do, she is still in control here)? Only time will tell, I guess.

But now that I am here, at this point in which I can finally breathe and relax (as much as that is really possible) and stop concerning myself with some of the what ifs, I've started to let a lot of doubt and regret sneak in past the overwhelming anxiety.

For as well-documented as Amelia's pregnancy was, in the form of little notes and pictures on a near-weekly basis, and topped off with a published account of her birth story in the anthology, It's Really 10 Months Special Delivery: A Collection of Stories from Girth to Birth, this pregnancy has been quite the opposite.

I've been quiet this time, not just on the blog but in general, for reasons that are difficult to explain. I've been reluctant to take pictures, let alone post them, and have kept any public commentary on the experience to a minimum. In the beginning, this was all rather reactionary and driven by fear. It was hard to know if I could count on the pregnancy continuing. Even after more extensive testing than I have ever pursued before only promised good things, it was hard to have faith.

But over time I did pass some critical point, where I ceased to wonder if the next day might reveal impending miscarriage. And at that point I was silenced by other emotions, like guilt. Prior to actually experiencing loss, I had only ever imagined how horrible it might be. Prior to going through a procedure- twice- that was emotionally grueling and terrifying in the potential (though unlikely) impact it might have on my future fertility, I never really thought twice about struggling to be pregnant. Prior to waiting six short but long months to finally conceive again after the last loss, I never had thought particularly hard about how I might feel if I never got a chance to experience pregnancy again.

After all of that, after the months I spent having to avert my eyes from pregnancy announcements and pictures, after suffering pain where there should only have been joy, I began to feel a bit insecure about my own seeming good fortune. I still wonder whose heart I am breaking, somewhere out there, as I go about trying to heal my own.

As I near the end of this experience, however, it occurs to me to think about myself and my own child, too. How will I explain to her the dearth of pictures? The seeming lack of motivation to capture the experience in the careful and dedicated way I did her older sister's, and even her brother's before her? It won't be enough to try to explain my sadness or my inner conflict. It won't make up for all that I did not do.

And so now, however wrong or right it may be, I am trying to find the courage to embrace the joy and leave behind the all the various negatives that have been blocking it out. I want to feel pride again in the accomplishment of a successful and healthy pregnancy. And most of all, I want this little one to be able to look back and find plentiful evidence that she, too, was loved, wanted, and anticipated, despite the circumstances surrounding her over-troubled mother at the time.

Little Squish, though I may not have nearly 40 little letters to show you some years down the line, please know that you were and are loved, and we can't wait to meet you to tell you so someday very soon.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Little Faces

My oldest two have been back for a few days now, after spending eight away in New Jersey with my husband's parents. Though we worried about how they would react to being away so long (we initially had commitment to the length of the stay and planned to play it by ear), they ended up having a blast and missing us very little, if at all. Much of that had to do with the grand adventures that Nana so graciously planned, including trips to the beach, local zoo, and Chuck-E-Cheese. I'm sure they hardly had the time to think of us at all, with all of the fun that they were having.

I surely thought of them quite a bit. Though we still had one baby left among us, the house was exponentially quieter and less chaotic with them gone. My feelings were rather conflicted, however. I missed them, but not as much as I would have expected to, and I greatly cherished the special time I got to spend with my youngest while she still maintains her status as such.

I also cherished the lack of battles. I most definitely did not miss the usual struggles surrounding mealtimes, naptimes, bedtimes, and any other transition times in the day. I did not miss the screaming and fighting. I did not miss the extra mess, or responsibility.

I did, however, miss the amusing chatter and joyful laughter. I missed the happy interplay between siblings. Most of all, I missed their little faces, which seemed to age years in the week that they were gone.

Sad, happy, sticky, smooth, messy, clean, or otherwise- it's good to have them back around here again.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Hardest Part

I thought that first new blog post of a couple of days ago would be the hardest one. It seemed, at the time, that I need only put myself back in that old spot and somehow the urge would reawaken naturally; a new rhythm would begin. Odd that I would have such strange ideas given the stops and starts that occurred before I finally almost gave up for good, but there it is. Much as I am a natural cynic, an optimist lies in wait somewhere inside me, hoping to be born.

Truthfully, coming around to writing this one has been much harder. Despite the skip I surely would have had in my step following the elation of that last successful publish- were I able to skip at all at this point in time- I couldn't use the pride I felt to push me forward once again. In the interim I have been far too overcome with the usual feelings of despair that helped to thwart me in the first place.

Thirty-two weeks pregnant is a tough place to be when it banishes you to your bed for long lengths of time in a fruitless attempt at honest-to-goodness rest, and leaves you on the sidelines feeling helpless and useless the rest of the time as life continues to go on around you. Indeed, life even goes on far away from me, where my two oldest continue their first ever mom-and-dad free journey and extended visit to the abode of Nana and Papa.

I try to stay involved with what I can in the super-simplified single child version of our new and temporary "ordinary," but my part is ever one of spectator. I hear the hum of other people's voices as they soothe my youngest down to sleep, the giggles, conversation, and occasional fussing as they change her diapers. And on many a night and afternoon I find myself truly alone in the house, only imagining the look of wonder on Amelia's face as she takes in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood from her vantage point in the little orange stroller she so loves to ride.

The silence, the time, and the space should seem a perfect opportunity to slip away and write with the rare advantage of environment conducive to concentration. Instead, they seem foreign and empty. They bring me sadness rather than inspiration.

My head knows that on a day not so very, very long from now, this will all be behind me, and the reward will be a brand-new, healthy daughter that I did my best to keep that way. However, my heart struggles along as it always does, full and empty all at once. The trick will be, I think, to keep my fingers moving along the keyboard, regardless of which direction my head or my heart have managed to wander.

Perhaps, so long as I am writing, inspiration will come.

Monday, August 17, 2015

No Time for Excuses

I have spent all morning building up to opening this page- the one on Blogger where I select "create new post" and actually start writing. It feels strange to be back here again, strange and scary. Because I got to the place, finally, where I had always feared I would end up: that place where I used to blog but didn't anymore, because I just couldn't keep up the momentum. I just couldn't find the motivation anymore.

I have been wanting to. And I could provide a lot of fairly weighty excuses for why not: depression, anxiety, exhaustion, huge life changes. I could also throw in a few lesser ones, like computer issues, lack of time, general laziness and a desire to put other things first, both worthwhile and not.

Regardless, I am here now, hopefully not making empty proposals once again about getting back into gear and starting up again. I can't promise one way or another what will happen tomorrow or in a few weeks time, but for now I can at least claim some growing motivation and hopefulness. If nothing else, I should be finally pushed forward by the crushing weight of boredom that comes with far too much time suddenly dropped into my anxious but daily-growing and lately bedrest-enforced lap.

In the months that I have stayed silent, the blog may have been idle, but my life has not been. It will take time to catch up on the details of my latest pregnancy, which nears its end just as I finally have the courage to reveal it here. More time, still, to relate the changes I have been observing in my beautiful children, our journey to a new home and new neighborhood, and the things we have all learned about ourselves along the way.

As the cursor moves down the screen to the beat of my swiftly-typing fingers, I feel the familiar gears turning again. Ideas about future posts, thoughts eager to be processed through written word. For now, I must hold them off and set small goals, as I once did long ago in the very beginning of my fledgling blogging experience.

I hope to look back on today as the beginning of a fresh start. And I hope that you are still with  me then, as now.

I should end here, but first I must make the shameless plug to promote the other baby I have been gestating for many months now: my first published work. Amelia's birth story has been featured in a new collection from It's Really Ten Months, which I am excited to announce will be officially released in a just a couple of weeks from today. Keep a look out, and re-experience the excitement again as I re-tell the adventure that she and I had, when "Sometimes, They Birth Themselves."

With love, official auteur Sharon J. Buckley (and future blogger again, God-willing).

IRTM SD Website Badge Due September 7