New Year, trying not to despair

New Years Day 2014.  I scroll through facebook and see many a status that say- 2013 was such a good year, bring on 2014!  Or 2013 was such a hard year but 2014 is bound to be better.  Many of my friends were blessed with weddings and babies and big life events.  Many struggled through some tough times but have either something big and good and concrete to look forward to or just simple hope for a better year.  I am just not there.

2013 had it good moments- we honeymooned in Panama, we bought a new home in a quiet suburb with great schools and a big yard, I felt really appreciated at work, I got pregnant!  But the second half of the year has just been one challenge after another.  I look forward to putting 2013 behind me.  But I don’t look forward to 2014.  It’s going to be hard.  I think harder than 2013.

We went hiking today.  A couple of our good friends invited us- I was toying with the idea when I woke up in the morning, so it felt a little like fate. It was cold, vigorous and distracting- which was good.  I needed to be distracted because I woke up feeling on the edge of losing it.  I’ve kept it together all day, but I still thought about the new year and what it may bring.  We passed many people on the hike- most wished us a happy new year.  I usually just said a pleasant hello in return.  I feel a little unable to envision a happy new year.

The new year brings us our latest challenge.  As we wait for this baby to come we have to make some difficult choices.  When it comes right down to it, this low fluid presents a very big risk for distress and stillbirth.  We can solve that problem by monitoring and potentially delivering early if there are signs of distress.  But prematurity presents its own risks to our very medically complicated baby.  Baby might not survive or be severely neurologically impaired.  We are forced to weight the risks of stillbirth versus the risks of prematurity.  All we know is we want to give our baby the best possible life and we dont want him/her to suffer.

We are waiting to meet with another specialist- which I look forward to, probably too much.  Despite knowing better, I keep thinking this specialist will at least tell us what is going to happen.  I guess that is a form of hope.   We are meeting with a well respected neonatologist who is also on the ethics board at our hospital.  Maybe he can tell me what to hope for.  Its unrealistic to hope for a perfectly healthy baby.  I think right now my biggest hope is for a baby whose lungs function well.  We can deal with the kidneys as needed. We can fix clubbed feet.  We can live with Down Syndrome.  Or maybe my hope is for no more surprises.  There are many possible complications associated with Down Syndrome that can’t be diagnosed until after birth. Can I hope that we have reached our max?

When I was with my patient who had her baby with Trisomy 18, I remember feeling a sense of relief on her behalf when there was no heartbeat at 41 weeks. I thought about how the baby made her decision on her own and her mother wasn’t forced to make difficult and painful decisions for her.  My patient had been worried- what if the diagnosis is wrong, what if I choose the wrong thing, what if my baby is in pain? She cried after birth for her baby, so sad that she never met the baby in person and worried that her baby didn’t know she loved her.  I reassured her that the womb is the happiest, most connected place for a baby to be.  The baby feels no pain. all the baby’s needs are met. And the baby can feel what the mom is feeling.

I don’t know what the right decisions will be for my baby.  But I do know that my baby is happy now- carried inside me, needing nothing, hearing my voice, feeling my heart beat.  I take solace in that.

As for the New Year 2014, I have two resolutions.

1. I want to support my husband more.  He has been nothing but love and strength through these hard times so far.  I wish to be the same for him.

2. I am going to try not to despair.  I see rocky times ahead and I have to remember that there will be good times ahead too.  There has to be.

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One thought on “New Year, trying not to despair

  1. Meghan, I am one of those women that delivered a stillborn daughter. It was back 36 years ago and we did not have all this prenatal testing done. I went blissfully happy through my first six and a half months of pregnancy to one day believing there was something wrong. My baby was not moving. Ed tried to convince me that all was okay and tried to reassure me that the baby had moved but I was just too busy and didn’t remember. After waking very early the next morning we went to the hospital and they confirmed there was no heartbeat but left me with some hope that it could still be okay. It wasn’t and I carried my baby for two more weeks knowing she had died and I delivered her on April 5, 1976…three days before my 21st birthday and just past my 7th month. I experienced profound grief over this loss and shared many of the same feelings you have now. We too had planned on this child and anticipated our life together. Many questions like the why me, what does this mean for future children, what did I do that may have caused this, etc. were very much on my mind as well. You know what my future outcome was. Hope always exists but it doesn’t always happen when we want it to; sometimes it comes later. The loss of our first born daughter is never forgotten and I talk openly about her because she was a real person with a purpose for her very short existence. I will never completely understand but I have come to some beliefs as the years have passed. I turned to my faith to help me cope and found great strength and comfort in that. My experience was very different than what you are going through because we had no prior warning. I look back and am thankful that I was so young and naive. I was spared this anguish you are going through now, the decisions were all taken out of my hands. If you think it would help to talk please know that you can call me anytime. We are thinking of you all and want you to know that there will be good times ahead for you too. No matter what the outcome your child will know that he/she was wanted and loved.

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