This pregnancy feels like an extended battle with an unknown enemy.
My doctors and I have been on high alert since the beginning. With nothing more than a few wild guesses about what we’re fighting, we’ve had to prepare for all possible attacks. In the early months, we were slowly and methodically fortifying our defenses with genetic testing, regular growth scans, and a number of screenings to make sure my body was functioning as it should. A regimen of baby aspirin and a goal to stay well within my recommended range for weight gain were the only true offensive measures we could take.
As my pregnancy progressed smoothly without any known threats to myself or my child, we’ve stepped up our surveillance instead of growing soft or complacent. Monthly growth scans morphed into weekly and biweekly NSTs, and regular kick counts became nearly obsessive monitoring of movements. We also revisited screenings that I passed previously just to make sure we don’t miss a sneak attack. At 32 weeks pregnant with a seemingly healthy baby girl who reminds me of her presence constantly, the stakes are ridiculously high.
The enemy seems to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
I’m aware of how paranoid this viewpoint may seem to others. We have an amazingly loving grandmother who told us with confidence that what happened to Arthur was just a tragic fluke. We should go on to have six more healthy children. It’s just that simple. We also had a slightly insensitive provider who tried to dismiss my fears by saying “You carried to term safely last time, why are you worried about doing it again?” And these women may be right. I really want them to be right (except for maybe the six more children part). Maybe Arthur was one in a million – a perfectly healthy baby born to a perfectly healthy mother and taken by a random and catastrophic combination of events that will never happen again.
It’s a possibility, but neither my doctors nor I are willing to bet my little girl’s survival on it. There may have been an underlying problem with Arthur or with me that went undiagnosed. Maybe posting extra lookouts and preparing for an attack will help us defend my baby girl. As long as we have an arsenal of medical knowledge at our disposal, we’ll use it to keep her safe.
Being high risk without a diagnosis has been an ongoing emotional struggle for me.
I’m thankful to be having what seems to be a healthy pregnancy, and I’d like to take some comfort in that. But we have valid reasons to fear the worst and constantly watching for potential complications is exhausting.
This week felt especially hard. At the request of my providers, I started checking my blood sugar levels four times a day. I’ve passed every glucose tolerance test so far, but our baby is measuring in the 90th percentile and we want to make sure her size doesn’t have anything to do with gestational diabetes. I’m happy to double check for this and anything else that I can, but every finger prick is a physical reminder of the unknown followed by fleeting reassurance that all is well. My blood sugar looks good today, but I’ll check again tomorrow… and the next day. We also had our first NST last week and the results were similar. Baby girl looked great, but we’ll check again next week and the week after to make sure she’s still safe.
I wouldn’t want it any other way, this high level of vigilance is definitely the right thing for us. But I hope there’s a time in the near future that we can dismiss the extra lookouts and sleep soundly knowing we’re no longer in hostile territory.
Or better yet, not sleep at all because we’re busy tending to a healthy, squirming baby. Lack of sleep is what all of the finger wagging strangers keep warning us about these days, so maybe, just maybe, we’ll be in that amazing sleep-deprived state soon.