I worry if he moves "too much" too. In reality, I don't think we have had anything closely resembling the frantic activity of the night before A died. But we have had stretches of time where this one has rolled, flexed, punched, and kicked enough to make me wonder, for just a bit.
Nights. Nights are not easy either. The absolute best way to wake up, whether for a bathroom run or for the day, is to have the consciousness of the world come in the same breath as a consciousness of a movement within. To wake up and know, absolutely know, that he is still alive-- those are the rare moments of almost bliss, moments of reassurance without fear, of existing in a place that fear didn't get a chance to enter, a place of peace.
Far more often it goes like this: wake up, realize it's a bladder call. Make it out of bed somehow. Often not in any way that can be described as optimal because at least one of my hands is engaged in belly-touching, something that often encourages the baby to respond. But not always, and not nearly right away. So I stumble to the bathroom, do the deed, wash hands, reluctantly letting go of the belly for that, walk back, now with both hands on the belly, get in bed, turn onto one side or the other, use the opposite hand to keep holding the belly. Rub a little if need be. Try to keep the panic from closing my throat, try to keep the cascade of images from beginning to run through. I can't, no matter how tired, fall back asleep until I get that proof of life. So far, it has always come.
Panic, throat closing, image cascade, these happen in the light of day too. Driving in a car, when a realization hits that it's been three of these NPR segments since the last kick. And so one hand goes to the belly, and I drive with the other. Which, if I tell you that I drive a stick, should impress you. But not nearly as much as the idea that during these episodes I am also driving with maybe 10% of my mental acuity dedicated to that task. Ok, I take that back-- last part should
My couch is also an excellent place to feel panic. The doppler helps, but not as much as you would think it would. A had a fine heartbeat the morning of the day he died. He just wasn't moving much.
I wonder sometimes whether my fear would be less if A's story had been different. If my primary problem was preterm labor, would I also be this obsessed with constant reassurances in the form of kicks? If the knots, the notoriously hard to see on the ultrasound umbilical knots, weren't what actually killed him, would I be less tightly wound? If there wasn't also an infection, would I be ok with less uniform and less consistent movement?
At my first NST this week, the nurse in charge of the room handed me a small Jeopardy-style clicker to press every time I felt movement. The machine recorded my clicks as little arrows on the strip, right next to his heartbeat printout. When she came up to me to talk about the fact that we will have to give him a bit more time because he seems to be asleep, she said that I was feeling a lot of movements. She meant that I was clicking for tiny movements others wouldn't notice. I tried to suppress the smile I was expecting to come out a lot more sad than wry as I thought "you have no idea, lady."
As I have seen the veterans tell others before, getting to the part where the monitoring is twice a week-- an NST on Tuesday and a BPP on Friday-- has helped. I no longer feel entirely and fully responsible. Only I kinda do. The appointments help for a bit. They should, in all honesty, help for longer. A BPP is supposed to be good for about a week, but it only really works for a day, maybe two with me. And only if it was Dr.Best doing it. This week he was out of town, and I didn't like the tech at all.
The contractions I keep having add a strange dimension to the whole thing. They can be tiring, they can be annoying, they can even be significantly physically uncomfortable. But what I realized today is that my biggest concern (funny, since it seems to have taken me long enough to articulate that to myself) is that I am afraid that they are distracting. I am afraid that if I pay attention to the contractions, as I am supposed to, or so my doctors tell me,-- how frequent are they, how strong, are they changing in any way-- I am afraid that if I pay attention to them, I may relax my mental grip on paying attention to movement.
So this gig as The Protector. It's tiring. It's scary. And most of all, I recognize, it is mostly futile. The chance that I can do something, that I can affect the outcome, that I can save his life, the chance is minuscule. But it's not zero. And so I persist. I wonder, though, how rational I am about this. Even if the chance was zero, could I let go? From where I sit right now, I don't think I could. I would, I think, want to be the first to know.
I was chatting with another bereaved mom when I saw the post announcing the arrival of Wannabe Mom and Dad's new son pop up in my reader. I think we exhaled in unison. And then I typed the first thought that came to mind: She must be so relieved. Now, how fucked up is that? My first thought was relieved, not happy. Not ecstatic, not crying in joy. Relieved.
That must be, I later thought, because I can't think past that for myself. I will be relieved when this gig is up. I also told JD I will need a drink. But maybe a good cry will be enough.