A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What's Goin' On; or, Taking a Sabbatical

Things have been moving in the Sloper household the last few days. After a whirlwind of social activity, all of our immediate family (including Sister #3, finally) knows about Smudgie. We also had dinner with two separate sets of friends and told them (four more people). And Lawyer Guy wanted to tell his closest aunt and uncle on each side of his family when we saw them over the weekend at our niece's first birthday party (though we are not informing any other family--including cousins--until after the Level I anatomy scan). We each have a few more friends on our lists of people to tell, but that can be stretched out over the next month.

You may remember that my sister-in-law burst into tears when we told her about Smudgie two weeks ago, and even my stoic brother-in-law got choked up. Apparently, this is a common reaction. One of LG's step-sisters also stared crying when we told her, as did--separately--three of our friends (one of them male!).

I can't deny that there's something very warming about seeing people react so enthusiastically to the news that we're (we hope) expecting. It's nice to know that so many in our lives support us and have been supporting us throughout these two years. I remember my youngest sister saying after we miscarried the m&m, "Maybe now everyone will be even happier when you have a baby and it will be even more special, because we'll all know how sad you were." And it seems like that is coming true, to a certain extent. Two years trying to conceive, a lost pregnancy: they're not always easy things to share with the people in your life. But I'm glad that I did.

Unfortunately, after such a busy, social weekend, I'm feeling pretty drained and very anxious. But fortunately, for once the anxiety is not about Smudgie (though I'm sure that will return soon enough). Nope...it's about school!

I've mentioned that I have my orals (aka qualifying exams) coming up. They're in about two months. My work pace up until now has been, shall we say, sluggish. I've been distracted, I confess. But now I need to read 60-70 texts in April and May and prepare myself to converse with my committee on any aspect of any of them. And because I'm a Victorianist, most of these tests are 800-pages long.

With sadness, much like the robin or the Canada goose, I'm going to have to say goodbye to you all until the weather is warmer. I need to focus on preparing for this test for the next 8 weeks, and I won't be able to give this space the time and attention I like.

I will update after our scans (one in two weeks, the other at the end of April, and--I hope I hope--more in May). I'll try to check in with your blogs at least once a week, maybe on the weekends. But for the sake of my academic career, that's all I can manage for now.

Ta-Ta! I wish everyone warm weather, good cycles, happy pregnancies, healthy babies, and all happy things until I return.

Friday, March 25, 2011

NT Recap; or, March 24th

As I walked to my OB's office for the NT scan yesterday, I couldn't help remembering making a very similar walk exactly a year before. On both March 24ths, the sky was the same vivid blue and the sun bright but chilly. On both days, I trekked up the hill toward Central Park, unsure of what I would feel or find when I reached my destination. And on both days, I felt a similar sweaty-palmed sort of worry about what was going to happen and how I'd be able to handle it. So as I tried to fight back tears yesterday afternoon, I reminded myself that I am stronger than I give myself credit for and that I'm capable of rising above my worst self when I need to.

Thank God, I didn't need to.

All continues well on the Smudgie front, which elicited huge, huge sighs of relief from both Lawyer Guy and I.

They gooped me up like a regular pregnant lady having a regular ultrasound. My baby looked like a regular baby, with the cutest little nose and fattest little pot belly. His heart beat steadily away, a regular 169 bpm.

Even so, I couldn't quite let go of the fear I hold onto like a worry doll. As amazing as it was to see the tech wake Smudgie up with a jab of the probe against my lower abdomen, I was still tensely fearing the news we might get.

The anxiety spiked again as we walked into the MFM specialist's office to get our results. And the first thing he said when we walked into his office was, "I have really great news for you."

My OB practice runs the sonography lab where we had the ultrasound done--it's right on site--so this doctor is one of the guys who could potentially deliver Smudgie if everything works out. Fortunately, he was just as nice and compassionate as all the other docs in the practice have been, eager to put our fears at rest as quickly as possible.

The great news is that Smudgie's development looks normal and healthy right now and my risk for trisomies is really, really low: I have the risk factor of a 20-year-old. So glad I had the test done! With a risk factor of 1 in 1,400 for downs and 1 in 10,000 for other trisomies, we have decided against any more invasive testing.

There was one little bit of not-as-good news. Apparently my papp-a levels are low, and low papp-a levels in the third trimester have been linked to lower birth weight. Some practices don't really do anything with this information, but my docs like to be more cautious, so I'll be having growth scans every four weeks in the third trimester (or after 30 weeks, I can't remember which). That's fine with me. As the other doctor I saw back upstairs afterward said, I can think of it as getting some extra high-quality scans that I wouldn't ordinarily have.

Our follow-up appointment with the OB upstairs was short. I was able to ask her about my sleeplessness (she said it's fine to take Benadryl) and some other minor complaints. My Level I anatomy scan is scheduled for 4 weeks from now, and she asked me if I wanted to come to the office for a quick mini-scan in between to put my mind at ease. I said I felt like I should force myself to fight my fears and wait the four weeks, even though I'd probably want the extra peek, and she said, "Don't torture yourself for no reason. Let's just schedule the appointment and maybe you'll sleep better." So we've got another appointment set up in two weeks.

I feel so happy that everything went great yesterday. As awful as the anxiety was in anticipation, I'm very glad I did the scan because this peace of mind is worth so much. And I know that there's still a long, long way to go. But as usual, I'm going to try to enjoy the happiness and peace and excitement while I feel them.

(I also want to add a quick note about the sharing the sonograms of Smudgie. I haven't posted any for several reasons: worry about jinxing things, wanting to spare my friends and readers who are still struggling, technical incompetence. But maybe the biggest reasons why I haven't posted them is one I never expected. They feel too private and too precious to share. I'm just not ready to put them out in public yet, and I honestly don't know if I ever will be.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Worry Wart; or, Random Rambling

This post is about worry.

I know, I know. Everything I post is about worry. That is true. What can I say, I have a theme.

I've been worrying a lot the last week, the closer we get to tomorrow's NT scan. I did some foolish things over the weekend, reading the blogs of women with late losses, with bad scan results, or who suddenly miscarried at EXACTLY the gestation I was yesterday (brilliant, Sloper, brilliant). It made for a rough Saturday and Sunday.

I also finally started feeling round ligament pains over the weekend, and until I figured out what they were, I was pretty freaked. A sudden sharp pain in the uterine region is not something you want to feel when you're already worried about the health of your baby. For once, Dr. Google was on my side and a quick search of "sharp pain while pregnant after coughing" diagnosed the problem. Since then I've experienced both kinds of RLP: the sudden, sharp, short pain and the low, dull ache. The later (which I have felt all morning) tends to worry me more.

I reached my lowest point on Sunday at church. Something about attending church while pregnant terrifies me, yet I feel like I have to go or God will smite me with an empty ute. I find myself unable to concentrate on anything but praying over and over again, "Please let my baby be okay, please let my baby be okay." And I hate making really specific prayers like that, because I always feel like it's an unfair challenge to God. I'm usually more the, "Dear Lord, give me strength to accept whatever path I must follow in life" type.

Anyway, the upshot of all this rambling is that I decided to try to give up worrying for Lent. Someone made the brilliant point that you're supposed to give up something you *like* doing, rather than something you hate. But I also feel like you should give up something that's a real challenge to part with. And stopping worrying will certainly be a challenge. I don't expect I'll go cold-turkey with the anxiety, but maybe I'll be a little more conscious of my thoughts and make a bit more of an effort to use my relaxation techniques, which can only be a good thing.

My youngest sister finally returned from her trip abroad, but she couldn't come out to Brooklyn for lunch with us on Sunday, which is when we wanted to tell her about the pregnancy, and then we kept missing each other's phone calls. When that didn't work out, I decided I'm going to wait until after the NT scan (if it goes okay) to tell her. My mom gave me some grief about this, but I finally broke down crying on the phone and explained that I CAN'T tell new people before a scan. It makes my anxiety way too intense. I don't even like talking about the pregnancy. I don't like my family calling to ask how I feel. I need to protect myself in a bubble of solitude and make it through the days as best as I can.

So, Sister #3 will be the last family member by far to know, which fact I'm sure would piss her off if she knew, but I honestly can't worry about that right now. I'm not trying to keep things from her. She was gone and then I had to protect myself. She'll find out soon enough, either way.

One more day to go. Somehow I have to teach a class tomorrow morning. At least it's on Jane Eyre, so I'll enjoy it. And then...

Please be okay, Smudgie. Please be strong and healthy. We want so very much to meet you in October.

[Update]: Thank you to those who have offered to lend me dopplers. While I am tempted (boy am I tempted) to accept, LG and I decided at the beginning of this pregnancy not to use one, and he is holding me to that promise. We're worried it will feed the fear rather than mitigate it. He's also worried I'll become obsessed with using it. Where did he get that crazy idea????

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thoughts on Saturday; or, 11w1d

I'd like to introduce you to a little friend of mine. This is Bella:

She's our almost 5-year old (sniff! Where does the time go?) Havanese pup, and our lives would have been much less bearable over the last two years if it weren't for her. She is such a furry little clown and so full of love. Lawyer Guy calls her the Anxiety Sponge, because whenever we had a particularly bad day or week and were worried about ever having children, we would snuggle with her on the couch and she would lick us and we'd start to feel a little better.

For a few days last week, Bella was acting completely bonkers. She was skittish and anxious and demanded to be on my lap at all times. She would follow me from room to room, hovering around my legs. I accidentally kicked her several times when I turned suddenly to go somewhere else and found her right underneath me. When I sat at the kitchen table and used my computer, she would put her front paws up against my legs and stare at me beseechingly and scratch at me until I lifted her on my lap.

At first we thought she was sick, but her appetite was fine, she enjoyed all her walks, nothing seemed to hurt or ail her, and she wasn't having any tummy issues. Then I realized that she must be sensing the pregnancy and reacting to it. We were amazed that she was so intuitive to what was going on in my body.

For the last 4 days or so, though, she's been back to normal. Either she's gotten used to what's going on, my hormones have changed, or...something bad has happened.

It's really hard for me not to read into literally everything that happens or doesn't happen with this pregnancy as a bad sign, even though I'm trying so hard not to. My previous slight nausea has now gone away, and I can accept that as I approach the end of first tri that sort of thing happens. But more worrying is that my appetite has also subsided, right when I thought it was supposed to be amping up. I'm not sure what to make of it. My skin was great for about a month, but now I'm having little breakouts again. Only my boobs and my chronic gas and my early-onset evening exhaustion are still the same.

Even at 11 weeks, I can't shake the fear of another missed miscarriage. The NT scan is on Thursday, and I'm worried about bad results or unfortunate diagnoses, but I'm more worried about Smudgie's heart just not beating any longer.

I read online that my uterus is now the size of a grapefruit. Then I look down at myself and I just don't see how that's possible. I don't feel different enough. This doesn't seem real. Will it ever?

Despite my fears, I am so glad to be at 11w1d today. I am so glad to have seen Smudgie's healthy heart beating away four separate times. I am glad to have another chance to see him this week. I am glad that last night I dreamed of giving birth to a little boy, and it was all calm and happy and everyone was healthy, and the only problem was that my epidural apparently caused short-term amnesia.

Keep going, Smudgie. We love you and will be the very best parents we can be if you'll just stick around and let us try.

Monday, March 14, 2011

More Telling; or, Unexpected Reactions

We told two more sets of our siblings over the weekend. Their respective reactions are an amusing study in contrasts.

First, we called my Law School Sister (who was out in Santa Fe for spring break at my parents' place) and pulled the same "Check out this bridesmaid dress I found" trick that we did with my Business School Sister a week before (the one who is getting married). It did not go over quite as well, but gave perfect evidence of why my sister is going to make a great lawyer, as only a transcription of our conversation can adequately show.

First, this is the dress that I've been considering (not in that color):
It's unfortunate that the angle of the image is front-on rather than side-on, because her (to me) obvious bump could just be a particularly puffy waistline. (Her smug little side-smile is also unfortunate, but for different reasons).

So I called Law School Sister, send her the link to the dress and initiated the following conversation:

Sloper: Did you open it yet?
LSS: Yeah, I don't like it. The dress [Business School Sister] picked out is better.
Sloper: But I think this one will work. Take another look.
LSS: No. The color is awful and it's going to make you look fat.
Sloper: But why don't you look at it again.
LSS: Look, do you want me to lie and tell you I like it when I don't? I think the other dress is better.
Sloper: Yeah, but did you read the description of the dress?
LSS: I read it. I still don't like it.
Sloper: You read the description to the right of the dress? I suggest you read it again. Carefully.
LSS: [Slowly reading out description, stopping at word] "maternity." Wait, why would you need a maternity dress?
Sloper: Why do you think I would need a maternity dress?
LSS: You're....pregnant?

We laughed about how bull-headed she is and how our clever little plan just went completely over her head. She was excited about the news and agreed that the dress my other sister picked won't work under the circumstances (though she still didn't like this one. Can't win them all, I suppose).

Then yesterday afternoon we went out to Suburblandia for lunch with Lawyer Guy's brother and our sister-in-law and the nieces. We brought the latest Smudgie pic and LG decided to give it to our older niece (she's three) and tell her to ask her daddy what it is. Which happened at the beginning of the lunch.

I really didn't have any expectations for how they would react to the news, so I was blown away by how excited they were. My SIL literally screamed "Oh My God!" when she saw the sonogram, jumped out of her chair, hugged me, and started crying. I didn't see my BIL's reaction, because I was preoccupied with SIL's, but Lawyer Guy said he got choked up and a little teary-eyed, too, and hugged his brother. My SIL was pretty funny: she offered me all her maternity clothes, said she hopes it's a girl so she can give me her daughters' clothes, and was like, "We can have sleepovers! We can all go to the beach together!" They both kept showing the picture to their daughters and saying "This is your cousin!"

This will be their daughters' only cousin, because LG and his bro have no other siblings and SIL is an only child. I know that cousins are really important to their families, so I can see why they're happy their daughters will have one. And they know about the miscarriage, even though they haven't spoken about it with us since it happened, so I guess maybe they were getting worried about our reproductive abilities (or maybe not).

It was nice to have them be so excited. But there was a little feeling of "You're in the mommy club now" to the reaction, which I think has to sting a bit for most pregnant IFers, because it's such a reminder of all those years when you were outside that club for good. And they were so happy and confident that everything will work out, which scares me.

I'm still scared. I'm scared about the NT scan. I'm scared about what I'll learn. I had a dream last night that I went to the bathroom and found blood.

As nice as it has been being able to share some good news for a change, this pregnancy no longer belongs only to us, as I knew it wouldn't once we told about it. Other people now have hopes and expectations. And on top of all my other fears of what could happen to the baby (jeez, I've been having terrible visions of cord accidents and all kinds of things I just shouldn't think about--which I guess is progress because at least they happen in third tri) I don't want to go back to being the couple that brings all the sad shit to the family table, the way we have been for the last two years.

But I can't go backward. The news is out there and I have to accept it. My youngest sister is out of the country for the next week, but she's the last sibling we have to tell. In two weeks, if all is well, we'll tell LG's step-sisters and some close friends. And things have a way of spreading. I can't hide in my house the entire time. Like it or not, pregnancy is a public phenomenon, and I'm going to have to do my best with that.

Friday, March 11, 2011

10 weeks; or, Smudgie Dances

Because I couldn't do a regular fast this year on Ash Wednesday, I decided to do an internet/media fast and wasn't able to post anything prior to yesterday's OB appointment. It was a quick one, mostly for bloodwork in advance of the NT scan in two weeks, but we did get to meet another of the practice's OBs and we got a quick u/s in. I actually slept the night before the appointment and was so proud of myself. It was an evening appointment, though, and my nerves ratcheted up again by the time we got to the office.

Thankfully, everything continues to look great at 10 weeks. Smudgie had clearly visible arm and leg buds that he was shaking around in a little jitterbug. It was so cute. The doctor we met was really nice and comforting. It was crazy thinking, "This person could potentially be delivering a baby for me in about 7 months!"

The bloodwork was okay, but uncomfortable. I had about 7 vials of blood drawn: the genetic screening for the NT scan, the regular prenatal bloodwork, and the screening for Ashkenazi Jewish genetic diseases. Nope, I'm not Jewish and there's very little risk that I'll show up positive as a carrier for anything. But Lawyer Guy (who is Jewish) stalled and stalled and stalled with getting the testing done over all those months at the RE's, so the OB we met with last time just wrote a scrip for me to have it. Thanks, LG! I really haven't gotten tired of having my arms poked over the last 6 months, no not at all! I've got to head to another lab today for some additional testing, but fortunately was able to find a lab location walking distance from my house. I think I'll offer them the other arm.

Everything else continues fine. Last week I was shocked when the nurse read out my weight after I stepped on the scale-- I'm up about 4-6 pounds in the last two months. But since I didn't gain any from last Thursday to this, I treated myself to a double-cheeseburger at Shake Shack last night. Yummy, yummy, yummy!

We're trying to tell our siblings the news this weekend, but it's hard to coordinate schedules, so we'll see what happens. Right now, I'm just enjoying the high that comes after a good scan. I know that I'll start to slowly lose it about a week from now in the days leading up to the NT scan.

Please, please, please stay healthy and strong Smudgie. We love you and promise to teach you some awesome dance moves if you make it out here healthy after a good 9 months on the inside.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Meet the Parents; or, Telling

We told all six of our parents (including Lawyer Guy's step-parents) the news about Smudgie this weekend. Before each phone call or visit, I felt my palms sweating and my heart fluttering with nervousness, and after we made our last stop on the Tell Moms and Dads Tour (to LG's mother and step-father), I briefly wondered if now that we'd told them all we'd finally get that bad news I've been dreading for almost 6 weeks (or longer, if you include the 2ww). Still, I'm glad that they know, especially because it's made LG so much more relaxed and calm.

My parents sold our house back East and moved to Santa Fe last summer, so we had to tell them over the phone. LG had taken a cellphone photo of our latest images of Smudgie after Thursday's appointment, and we e-mailed the jpg of that photo to my mom and called her to tell her to check her e-mail. After a moment's silence, she said, "What is this?" I asked, "You don't recognize it?" And she said, "Oh my gosh, [Sloper], it says your name!" I couldn't help crying after that, as she called my dad in from the other room and asked him to take a look, too. We all got on skype soon after, so I was able to see how happy and excited my parents were. My mom insisted on grabbing all the ultrasound printouts (and hospital bracelets) from all four of her pregnancies and showing them to me. First, she has had them all laminated. Second, despite having just made a cross-country move she had them at arm's reach in the new house. I've always thought of my mom as one of the least sentimental people about childhood--she never minded getting rid of our old toys, or kindergarten art, or home!--so this was really surprising.

We told LG's father and step-mother over the phone, too, since they were heading out to their summer home for the weekend and we wouldn't be able to catch them. Lawyer Guy recently received some proofs from a photo session he did at work as a result of his promotion. He had sent his dad those proofs to look at the day before, so he told him he had one more to send and e-mailed him the same u/s shot we sent to my parents. He secretly patched me into the call, but I didn't say anything until after my FIL opened the picture and said, "Mazel Tov!" (No really, that's what he said! I love it). We couldn't get step-mother-in-law on the phone right then, but FIL told her and she called later to let us know how happy she is. She's the one whose mother passed away two weeks ago, and she told us that she'd been thinking there has to be a baby born soon and she has a really good feeling about ours. I hope she's right.

Finally, on Saturday we went up to see LG's mother and step-father in LG's hometown a quick drive outside of the city. My MIL has been extremely suspicious the last month-plus, constantly quizzing LG with "Do you have any news for me? Do you have anything to tell me?" and even hinting at the question of whether or not I was pregnant when we saw them for dinner three weeks ago (I just frowned and looked away). I couldn't figure out why she was asking us these questions, until LG revealed that he'd let her know each cycle when it didn't work out, and obviously didn't say anything after this cycle. (This led to a pretty big fight, because I considered that breaking the spirit, if not the letter, of the law we'd laid down regarding letting family and friends into our reproductive lives). But he was able to throw her off the scent by talking about how stressed he was, which made her think we had another treatment coming up.

My MIL adores our puppy Bella, and we've been trying to convince her to get a Havanese of her own (which she doesn't want to do until she retires in a few years). We're always sending her links to petfinder dogs or pictures from breeders. After we arrived at her house yesterday, LG told her that we had a picture of a puppy we thought she would like and handed her the ultrasound. She was very excited, as was LG's stepfather.

Overall, I'm happy with the way things went. I think we were able to have some fun with telling our parents without going over-the-top with specially made clothing, crazy antics, or attention-seeking maneuvers. We basically just told them what was up, and it was special enough without balloons or dancing bears. None of them responded in any of the ways I was dreading (I worried about comments like, "See, I told you it would all work out" or the like) and they were all reasonably understanding of the fact that they need to keep this an utter secret until we give them the go-ahead, and that our pace in telling people will probably be a lot slower than they want. Both LG's parents are champing at the bit to talk to family about this, but we're being very firm that we are NOT ready for public conversations and they will just have to respect that.

We told one other person this weekend. My sister (who is getting married in Napa in August, as I've mentioned before) has been e-mailing me non-stop about bridesmaid dresses the last 10 or so days. She only has four bridesmaids (me, our other two sisters, and her fiance's sister), so she picked out a different dress in the same color for each of us (all from different designers) and wanted us to order them pronto. The dress she picked for me is cute, but absolutely unsuited to an advanced pregnancy. I had to tell her what's up, so she doesn't think I'm just being difficult in refusing to order it. I sent her a link to a maternity bridesmaid dress in the same color and told her I thought this one would work better than the one she picked. It took her a moment to catch on, but she was really excited when she did. And she agreed that we could wait until I'm (fingers crossed) in second tri before hitting up the bridesmaid dress shops to try to order it.

LG wanted to tell the rest of our siblings this weekend, too, but I was feeling overwhelmed and needed some time off from sharing this. My two youngest sisters are both out in Santa Fe visiting my parents for the week, so I may call in a few days and let them know. And if the ultrasound on Thursday goes well, we'll probably tell my BIL and SIL next weekend. Then it's two weeks to the NT scan, after which (if it goes well) we'll tell LG's step-sisters and a few close friends, but I want to wait until at least the first anatomy scan before letting our extended friends and families know.

There's so much else to talk about: my craftiness at hiding my non-alcoholic beverage orders when out with friends; my fears, which are increasingly centering around the big upcoming scans rather than spotting or regular ultrasounds (though I still fear those, too); my weight-gain and reaction to it; my pathetic academic career. But this post is already too long. And it's good to save some things for later, right?

Please stay strong and healthy, Smudgie. We love you so much and so many people are waiting to meet you.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

9 weeks; or, A Happy Day

I've been feeling a little poorly in the tummy today, which explains the delay in updating on this morning's appointment as well as the brevity of this post.

Today was great! Smudgie looked wonderful in there--perfect, the new OB said. He was measuring 8 weeks 6 days (we're 9 weeks today, so that's great) and had a speedy, amazing heart rate of 175 bpm which we got to hear again (love that sound). He still looked more like a blob or a slug than anything recognizable as a person, but the doctor pointed out where his head is and where his tail/feet must be. And we saw him move! He did this little convulsive shimmy, like he's trying to grow faster for us. Keep going, Smudgie!

We really, really liked the doctor we met today. She was kind and laid-back, which was great. She took lots of time to talk with us before and after the scan and was extremely understanding of our anxiety. We're very happy with this practice and wound up canceling the second appointment--I really didn't want another pap smear, breast exam, etc. So we have an OB!

I cried in the exam room while I was waiting for the doctor and nurse to reappear. And I couldn't look at the screen until the doctor told me everything was fine. I don't know when or if I'll ever head into an ultrasound feeling anything less than utter dread. I do so hope I get the chance to find out.

Next appointment (bloodwork and a quickie u/s) is in a week. We're going to tell our parents this weekend.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this baby. I'll do everything I can to help him grow big and strong.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Waiting for Tomorrow; or, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fetus

The 24-hours before an ultrasound are always the worst. I start analyzing symptoms in a way that I refuse to let myself do ordinarily. Something new and unexpected always crops up to panic me: a backache that feels a little different than before, boobs that seem slightly smaller (I'm always so fixated on the boobs), a little more energy in the afternoon.

I have trouble sleeping the night before, and the night before that, too. When I wake at 4 or 5 am to pee, I can't fall back asleep again until after it's light. I imagine things I'd probably be better off leaving alone. Or I don't imagine anything at all, but just lie there, queasy and hungry and filled with anxious dread.

I don't understand how this pregnancy could work out when the last one didn't. Logically I can understand: random chance, quirks of genetic combination, blah, blah, blah. But emotionally, I can't comprehend it. Why should this time be any different? How can it be different?

I still feel upset when I read weekly updates on "How Your Baby Is Developing," because they just reinforce for me that I don't know if any of those proclamations--about eyelids and lungs and arm buds--are true. I don't feel closer to this baby when I read them, I feel farther and more distant. More aware that despite carrying it inside me, despite thinking about it every moment of every day, despite eating for it and peeing for it and breathing for it, there's not a single thing I can do to keep it alive or to make it healthy.

I don't like to think of another heart beating away inside me, because then I'm forced to acknowledge that this heart could stop. I don't like to think about a baby growing piece by piece and cell by cell, because it feels too active, too involved, too much of a process, when everything about this right now is passive.

I like to think of the baby as a little candle burning inside me, a tiny flicker of hope that I'm trying to shelter and keep lit. It might blow out--candles do that sometimes--so all I can do is give it space to burn and nurture that hope, whatever may come.

I hope tomorrow is a happy day.