Because of my abnormal AFP screen in the first trimester, my OB has warned us that we are at a higher risk for something going wrong (read: stillbirth). This is why I'm getting a sonogram at every appointment, to make sure the fetus is moving the way he should, his heart is beating the way it should, that he's drink-breathing his amniotic fluid (and his pee) the way he should, etc. If he starts to get lazy, lethargic, or his little fetus organs don't look as active as they should, she'll want to induce labor (or go for a C-section) to get the fetus out and fix him.
Just what every pregnant mom wants to hear, right? "Hey, by the way... that baby you thought you were having? Yeah, he's likely to die, for no reason at all, before he's even born. No, we don't know what causes it. No, we don't know how to prevent it. We just know to tell you about it so you can spend the next
At our appointment Tuesday, our OB shared the above story. It happened to one of her partner's clients, just the week before.
I'm feeling better now (our appointment was Tuesday morning -- and, of course, this was the first appointment where I only took a half-day off work, same for Freddy. I really needed time to sit with him, talk about all this... but no. Had to rush to work from the doctor's office, without even time for a quick lunch); have had time to process all this and accept it. Sort of.
It's beyond infuriating that I have absolutely no control over this. I do everything I'm supposed to do. I eat good things, have severely limited my intake of processed crap, eat organic fruits and vegetables, don't eat fried crap. I rest, don't exert myself physically (picking up heavy items, etc.), listen to my body when it's tired. I've modified my lifestyle to accommodate this fetus. And now he's going to quit on me for no reason? Make me go through all this, just to wait until the last minute to die for no reason? WTF, fetus??
Now, statistically, the most likely possibility is that everything turns out fine and all this worrying is for nothing. But there's no way of knowing that. There are ways of knowing it's NOT going to be fine (if the biophysical profile comes back with poor results), but even as "good" BPP can't say that everything will be hunky-dory.
Freddy and I both had to go back to work after this appointment (the first time neither one of us took the whole day off -- I had to rush to work from the doctor's office, didn't even have time to eat lunch. Of course, this was also the day we'd done the glucose test, so I'd had nothing to eat all morning except for two hard-boiled eggs and a super-charged artificial-sugar drink), so we had no time to sit and talk about the news.
(It wasn't truly news-news, since we'd already talked at our last appointment about the need for monthly screens until 32 weeks, then weekly screens, to make sure everything was "okay." But when you throw the word "stillborn" in there, especially right after "perfectly normal screen," it changes things a little.)
Freddy and I had started calling Troy Emmitt by his real name, Blanky McBlank, when it was just the two of us. We used his real name when talking about him inside my belly, when talking about his nursery, when talking about what he'd be like when he grew up. We'd started talking about him as if he were a 100% guaranteed, real baby.
I know there's never a guarantee. Even if he's born, he could die of SIDS in the first few weeks after birth. He could catch some easily-preventable disease at the doctor's office, from some kid who's parents believe Jenny McCarthy's crap and decided not to vaccinate their kids. We could get in a car wreck on the way home from the hospital, or on the way to the grocery store, or on the way to daycare. He could get leukemia. There's a bazillion things that could happen.
But in each and every one of those scenarios, before that death happens, I have a baby to have and to hold. I can see his face, look into his eyes, hold him, hug him, SEE HIM before he's gone. I have something before he dies.
When we got home from work that day, I told Freddy, "I want to go back to calling him Troy Emmitt."
Freddy paused for a second, then said, "Okay."
I was going to explain -- I had my speech all rehearsed. But I didn't need to.
"No, I know," he said. "You know it's going to be okay, right?"
"Yes, I know."
Except we don't. But that's okay.
I can deal with losing Troy Emmitt. I know he's going to go away, eventually -- when he becomes Blanky McBlank. But I can't deal with losing Blanky McBlank before I even get a chance to meet him.
This is why it's not "a baby" until it comes out. Because too many things can happen before the fetus finishes doing it's thing. Too many -- wanted -- fetuses never become babies.
This doesn't mean the loss of a wanted fetus is not a terrible, horrible loss -- please don't be that naive or ignorant.
This means that there is a significant difference between a fetus developing inside a woman's uterus, and a baby living outside of it.