It's been one week since Ryan's birthday. With the anticipation and preparations for that giant event behind me, I suddenly find myself face to face with the next "milestone."
Baby Brother himself.
There is so much anticipation for his arrival. I'm starting to feel it everywhere. Family, friends, coworkers, students. Even parents of students pulling me aside to chat about the excitement that is baby's approaching due date.
To be clear, I'm excited, too. I am. Partly. But that excitement has some pretty stiff competition.
Anxiety, fear, and mistrust are fighting for top billing with that excitement. And lately, they're winning.
Ask me how I'm feeling and I'll tell you, "Okay." "Pretty good." "Getting tired." "A little sore." "Alright." "Hanging in there."
I don't try to be trite. But let's be honest... When you ask, you don't really want to get into it, do you? Because here's what happened at my doctor's appointment today. After a routine visit, baby looking good, health questions answered, she asks, as she usually does: "And how are you feeling?" She asks it in the way that I know she's not talking about my sore pelvis or heartburn. She's going deeper, and checking in on me emotionally. I usually respond with one of the standards. Maybe a "Not too bad, actually." Try to sound a bit more optimistic.
But today was different. I needed it out there.
"Not great," I said. "The further along I get, the more I worry."
Cue the tears forming. And the passing of the tissues. A few "medical professional" type-suggestions. That's when I interrupt her with the words I've been dying to admit out loud:
"I just don't trust myself to know when something is actually wrong."
Trust. I have none. And all of the motherly advice says, "Trust your instincts." "Mother's intuition is never wrong." "Go with your gut."
I broke down in my OB's office today because the fact is, we are rolling up into the "home stretch" of this pregnancy and despite countless "textbook" NSTs, and biweekly "beautiful, perfect" ultrasounds, I can't trust from one appointment to the next that something catastrophic isn't going to happen and I'm going to miss the warning signs.
I have a hard time accepting that, "Everything is good" doesn't mean, "Everything is good... for now."
And now it seems, to top off my own personal mistrust, I find myself (privately) questioning the decisions of my "team." The nurse who scans my NST and casually says, "Looks great! See you next week." I want to shout, "Look harder! Don't miss anything! Take this more seriously!" Or when my OB misspeaks herself and gets a date wrong, I inwardly roll my eyes like she should know better.
And it makes me feel ugly.
Everyone is trying so hard to put me at ease. To alleviate some of my worries. Yet the worries escalate to such a point that I find no comfort at all.
I'm temporarily reassured at his movements. A rhythmic hiccuping. A jarring attack on my ribcage. Elbows, knees, feet poking out in all directions.
And then he takes a nap. Is soothed to stillness by my busyness. And the fear creeps in. I fret. Should I call someone? In my head I hear, "Babies need to sleep." But what if this is a real problem and I've just used some mother-placating phrase to trick myself. I did it before with the real gem, "Near the end, babies run out of room to move." But I can't think like that. I don't call. Not right away. I recline. I drink water. I stay perfectly still.
Then he starts back up again. And I breathe again. But in the back of my mind is the question: "Is everything really all okay?"
I know I need to relax.
I know I need to find trust in my doctor. The nurses. Myself.
I know all of this, but it doesn't change anything.
I lost a baby who was supposed to be safe inside me. And every day I get closer and closer to that time that he slipped away from me without my knowing it.
Inside of me will just never seem like the ultimate "safe place."
I'll take it a day at a time. I'll accept my constant and close monitoring as a positive. I'll do what I can to cherish these last 4 or 5 weeks.
But I'm going to be worried. And you should know that when you ask me how I'm feeling, what I'm not saying is, "I'm scared."