My world has changed. I have waited, patiently, anxiously, for today to come.
Today I was admitted to the hospital. It was a planned admission at 34 weeks, no rushing or scrambling. Yesterday one of the nurses at the high risk office called to tell me they would be saving a bed for me- and a nice big one at that, I realized when she told me the room number. It was empty, meaning I didn’t have to wait for someone to be discharged, so I could basically go in at anytime. I chose 11am. Enough time to do something beforehand but not delaying too much. Frankly, I wanted to go to one last bootcamp before my admission. Bootcamp has really helped clear my head a bit and get really good exercise in my final trimester, something that has been a struggle to find. And I knew I’d be limited in my activity while “in house” (medical speak for being in the hospital).
I was on the waitlist for the 830 class and luckily had a confirmed spot in the morning! So I got one last good sweat in and apparently got a good chuckle among the docs in the hospital during rounds. The high risk nurse who booked my room had passed on how I had said I’d be in at 11 so I could try to go to bootcamp. Glad I could entertain.
I was emotional just before going in- had a quick cry in the shower- but also eager to get there. I just wanted to get settled and adjust to my new reality.
Going in to the hospital means my baby could be born any minute. It’ll likely be alive. I know I’ve had many months to adjust to being pregnant, but I am still so far from really understanding what my new reality will be.
My journey has been a constant readjustment to new realities- some typical of any first timer, some unique. In the beginning, I had the happy joy of adjusting to the positive pregnancy test. That was easy and lasted a couple weeks. Then I thought I was having a miscarriage and adjusted to the new timeline I would face before becoming a mom. When we found a heartbeat a week later I got some of that initial joy back but had a lingering anxiety about miscarriage, which lasted the first trimester and I thought would resolve once I hit thirteen weeks. The diagnosis of Down Syndrome came then. I spent a long time working out how to just be pregnant and try not to worry about the associated problems (cardiac defects, bowel problems, risk for second trimester miscarriage and stillbirth) and how to envision my new life with a child with Down Syndrome. And I did it. I really did- I had a couple months where I was more pregnant than worried. I was happy and proud to show off my growing belly. I was happy to confirm with strangers, that yes I am pregnant, it’s my first, we don’t know gender and I’m due in march. I felt only small pangs of anxiety, at times knowing I wasn’t letting myself have the full “world, look at me! I’m pregnant for the first time,” experience because I felt like I wasn’t telling the whole truth. But excitement was my primary feeling.
The oligohydramnios changed everything. I was then thrown into a world of- will my baby live or will s/he die? We were given lots of depressing diagnoses and had hard decisions to make. I felt like the substance of my pregnancy had been taken away. Before I was planning for a baby- yes a baby with Down Syndrome, that may have some undiagnosed medical problems, but it was a baby. Something concrete to plan for. I could picture therapy appointments and changing diapers. The risk of stillbirth was always in the back of my mind, but I was learning to deal with it. The oligohydramnios and all that came with it took away that concreteness. I really might have a stillbirth. I may not have a baby that comes home. And if there might not be a baby to take home, was I really pregnant? Physically I was- there wasn’t much denying that. But emotionally I haven’t been very pregnant. It manifests in different ways. Avoiding buying baby things. Changing the conversation when people ask about my pregnancy. Not envisioning a baby in my house.
So now I’m here, in the hospital, with at least one possibility removed. I’ve spent many months fearing stillbirth, and now that I’m on continuous monitoring, that scenario is very unlikely. Welcome to my new reality. A baby is going to come out of me. I have to get my head around that. I might labor, I might have surgery. It’s a tiny bit more concrete. But since I haven’t really had the chance to absorb the reality that I am actually pregnant, I’m certainly not ready to give it up. As much as I’m learning how hard it will be to be tethered to these monitors, I want to stay pregnant as long as I can. I can see on the monitor that the baby is fine. I want to cook and grow and nourish him/her as long as I can. It’s got to be pretty warm and cozy inside my womb and I want to delay introducing my baby to the cold air and wires and ventilators.
The high risk doctor admitting me asked at the end of his visit, “is there anything we can do for you?”
Yes. Keep me pregnant.