It’s been four days since we got the news that our baby passed. (Is passing?) Four days of fog and tears. All-encompassing at first, and then slowly becoming more intermittent as the days go by. The grief within the first couple of days felt so heavy; immobilizing and unbearable. But the last day or so has brought more moments of peace, interrupted by brief, sharp emotional pains that rip through my chest and leave me gasping for air.
I still have five full days before my scheduled procedure.
While my doctor says it’s fine to “live my life”, he also says to not do anything “too strenuous” to keep me from going into spontaneous labor. He says there are a few things to watch for: my bag of waters breaking, blood from placenta detachment, and contractions. You know, the norm. They’re not sure how long baby has been dead, but they do say that a woman’s body will usually start to expel a non-viable fetus around 2-4 weeks after baby dies. If we’re saying the baby stopped growing at 15.5 weeks, I’m at about 2.5 weeks out now. If spontaneous labor were to start, I could either labor here on Maui or be medivaced to Oahu for an emergency procedure. If something went awry here, they’d most likely medivac me anyway.
We’re obviously trying to avoid an emergency. And so, I sit here in The Waiting Place.
The Waiting Place really does feel like “a most useless place”, especially when you have no control over what’s going to happen. And you’re Type A. And you never would have chosen to be here in the first place. But that’s neither here nor there. It is what it is. And it is what my life feels like right now. It’s the In-Between.
Here’s what it feels like being in The Waiting Place:
Physically, I feel so In-Between. Pregnant but not anymore, my body has lost its fullness in the front and started deflating, if that makes sense. My womb feels less like a womb full of baby and more just like an extra slab of weight I’ve added in the last few months. Being on my back used to be uncomfortable with the uterus pressure, but that has gone away.
My body feels simultaneously like a ticking time-bomb – I’m constantly watching for signs of early labor and hoping I can wait until next Thursday – and a place of mourning. I can’t look in the mirror without thinking Here Lies Our Little One. I constantly remind myself that baby’s spirit is gone and I am just holding on to a bunch of cells.
While I feel more energetic than I have in a while, I am still pregnant, and my body reminds me of this about 12,000 times a day. Every detail of my life was shared with this baby before she abruptly left, so even minuscule decisions are difficult for me now. I was making breakfast the other morning and thought, I don’t need to eat two eggs today; I’m just feeding myself. Some side effects of pregnancy have faded, but some have not. I still get horrible heartburn after I eat too much (baby still takes up space in my abdomen, after all), I’m still ungodly hot in this humid summer, and I still have to sleep on my side. I only fit into maternity clothes at this point, which is a true mind-fuck for me when I get dressed.
The mornings are the hardest. I’ve turned off my daily 5:04am alarm because I don’t want that time to exist anymore. The first morning, I laid in bed, sobbing and squeezing my eyes tightly shut the way I did when I thought I saw a ghost when I was younger. Willing time to move faster so that the sun would rise and I wouldn’t have to deal with dawn – the time I spent walking and internally talking to the baby. I didn’t want dawn if it meant I didn’t have my baby to walk and talk to. I didn’t want a new morning, or a new day. I just wanted this to all disappear and somehow just be a horrible nightmare.
From the time I wake up to the time I fall asleep, I try to stay my busiest. Reality can’t catch me if I move quick enough. And luckily, I have a very active and energetic three-year-old running circles around me at all times. It keeps my brain busy and gives my heart something positive to focus on. But in the in-between, I’m not allowed to do much. So I sit on the sidelines for the first time this season and watch Ben and Isaac run cross country. I try not to do too many “BIG JUMP!”s catching my 35 pound son. I turn down awesome hikes meant for three-day-weekends like this, and decide to play legos instead. Once it is actually quiet and calm, however, I feel overwhelmingly lonely. I need to feel Ben next to me all night.
Isaac has asked me daily what happened to the baby in Mama’s belly. This is a tricky one. We’ve been telling him that the baby didn’t survive in Mama’s belly and that she’s dead. She was a big part of our daily life, so I didn’t feel like I could just ignore the matter – I had to tell him something, and I thought it should be the truth. It is so much for a 3 year old to take in, but he seems to understand. The problem is that I still have a belly, so he often looks at me with confusion when I say the baby died. What the hell am I supposed to say here?
My family has been incredibly supportive. I think between the postpartum depression I experienced with my first and my history of depression, everyone’s on red-alert to see when I’ll hit the breaking point and lose my shit. But the truth is that every day has been different. Some days I wake up with resolve. Others, I sulk in self-pity. One day I was just pissed. At everyone. For everything. I envision this continuing for a while. Today I feel like I’m completely overreacting to the situation, and it can’t be that bad. Seriously, grief is a strange, strange emotion.
Mostly, The Waiting Place just feels like I can’t move, or breathe. So I’m focusing on making time to just breathe every day. And trust the process. That’s all I can do.