A Necessity: Prioritizing Baby A and Me

I’m afraid that Baby B’s death is my fault, because my body, my womb, is an inhospitable environment, a place in which no fragile being could survive.  Since I found out I was pregnant on August 17, with levels of the pregnancy hormone Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) high enough to potentially signify twins, I haven’t had any peace.

When I first starting trying to get pregnant in 2003 and 2004, I was a single woman using intrauterine inseminations (IUIs) with donor sperm in my attempts to conceive, and I had little to no support from my Catholic family and varying levels, from skepticism to total devotion, among friends.  This time around, I’m a married woman, legitimate, so I expected my journey through infertility and any resulting pregnancy to be different, better, less stressful.

My family members, concerned the first time around with their embarrassment more than the Catholic Church’s stance on assisted reproductive technology (ART), have now offered their congratulations, for I’m no longer leading a lifestyle they consider “alternative,” as a single mother by choice.  I’m married and pregnant, which is completely acceptable to them, even though I had to once again use ART to get here.

My friends are uniformly supportive, offering to do anything they can to help me, from watching my son, to giving me injections, to listening to me vent, to hugging me as I cry, as I’ve suffered through two in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles and this high-risk twin pregnancy, which we now know, as of yesterday’s ultrasound, has only one surviving twin.

But, while I was able to cope during my first bout with infertility and throughout my first high-risk pregnancy by separating from all negative people, in order to protect myself and my unborn child, I do not have the luxury of doing so this time around.  I don’t have pregnancy nausea, but have been so upset that I have dry-heaved and vomited.  When I’m anxiety-ridden, I suffer from insomnia, and, because I’m pregnant, I’m unable to take medication to combat it.  I am unable to go off of my antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication, because of my stress levels, so I continue to take Prozac, which is safe during pregnancy, but the anxiety and depression that precipitate its use are not conducive to carrying a child or two.

I have been blogging five to six days a week, which is therapeutic for me, but the flip side is that I have felt so much pressure to secure an agent and sell my memoir because we were adding two sons to our family.  I have been making gemstone bead jewelry day and night, because, although I had considered it a hobby, my friends convinced me it could be a lucrative business, and, once again, I have felt incredible pressure to make a financial contribution because of my unexpected twins.

I had my first jewelry show on Tuesday night and Wednesday day.  Monday I didn’t nap, which my body requires, and I stayed up late making as many jewelry pieces as I could.  Tuesday, I didn’t nap because I was readying everything for the show, determining prices, labeling the necklaces and bracelets and earrings with descriptions of the materials used.  On Tuesday night, the night of the show launch, I was selling until about 9:30 p.m., then up until midnight making more children’s bracelets, because they were selling so well.  Wednesday, I woke up at 4 a.m., fired off e-mails about the meeting for my son’s preschool class that, as a room parent, I was hosting on Friday afternoon, and, even though exhausted, I had to be “on” all day at the show.  Thursday, with my jewelry show over, I took a nap, then started preparing for the Friday preschool meeting, reading through all of the room parent materials in order to draft an agenda, revising documents for distribution, cleaning the house.

My baby died one of these days this week, one of these days in which I was overstressed, overtired, overextended. 

And, even though I had just learned of my baby’s death, on Friday morning I couldn’t conceive of cancelling the 1 p.m. preschool meeting with so little notice.  So, scarlet-eyed and splotchy-faced from crying, I left the doctor’s office and went to the grocery store, where, like Jack Nicholson, I wore sunglasses inside, as I shopped for the refreshments and food for the meeting.  As I loaded up my car with the groceries, I saw one of the preschool parents in the parking lot, and she said, “One o’clock, right?” 

I wanted to tell her I’d just found out that my baby died, but I just said, “Yes, see you then.”

I got home, unloaded the car, and seeing my next-door neighbor Anna Marie out gardening, walked over and asked her why exactly her doctor had mistakenly told her that she was losing her unborn child three years ago. 

This is where the crazy kicked in, where I was looking for hope that, somehow, no heartbeat might not mean definitive death for my Baby B. 

She explained that, when she went in for her first pregnancy appointment, she had to urinate on a stick, and the pregnancy line was very, very light, which caused concern.  And, when her HCG levels were decreasing, instead of rising, as they should, she was told she would lose her son.  Her little guy had some sort of miraculous turnaround, or maybe she originally had twins inside her, with her HCG levels declining with the loss of one.  Either way, she was told that her baby was dead, and he’s now an adorable 2-year-old.

Her story gave me no hope, for no heartbeat is no heartbeat, regardless of how much I wish otherwise, so I told her about my morning.  And, she hugged me and cried with me on the sidewalk.   And, we decided that Baby B is going to be Baby A’s guardian angel, and then we cried again.

I walked back to my house and started getting ready for the preschool meeting, as I cried.  I called another room parent and left her a message that everything was ready at my house, but I was going to need her to completely run the meeting because I was a mess.

Then my friend Jessica called, worried that my son and I hadn’t been at his 10 a.m. swimming lesson, which he takes with her son.  I cried to her, I told her I didn’t know how I was going to host the meeting, that I couldn’t cancel it with so little notice, that I didn’t know what to do.  She told me I had to cancel the meeting, that she would come over to help me make the notification calls, that she would do anything to help me.  I told her I would try to reach the other room parent again to see if we could just move the meeting to her house—or else reschedule—and that I’d call her back.

Ten minutes later, Jessica knocked on my door, saying she couldn’t go home after the swim lesson without hugging me first.  And, she just hugged me, stayed with me, ate a huge cinnamon roll alongside me, and convinced me, rationally, for I wasn’t rational, that I had to cancel the meeting, that a preschool meeting was not a priority on the day I found out my baby had died.

My fellow room parent called and seconded Jessica’s position that anything preschool was irrelevant, that anything preschool wasn’t an emergency and could be rescheduled.  She also offered to do anything to help, and she took over my carpool.

Around 11:15 a.m., I sent out an e-mail to all of the meeting attendees, apologizing for having to cancel the meeting because of a medical issue.  I called the ones I didn’t receive confirmations from.  And, the preschool program director notified those whom I wasn’t sure had received either the e-mail or phone messages, as they dropped off their children for school at 12:45 p.m. 

So, yesterday, after prodding from friends, I made myself the priority.  I have Baby A inside of me, and I can’t lose him too, so I have to avoid any further negativity and stress and pressure throughout this pregnancy. 

With me protecting myself and him, plus Baby B as his guardian angel, hopefully he’ll be fine, hopefully he’ll continue to be a little miracle of mine, a little living miracle.

If I take care of myself, hopefully he won’t suffer the same fate as Baby B, whom my body couldn’t sustain, my Baby B who fought so hard to reattach himself to my uterus, to grow, to survive.  

Baby B was always a bit smaller, but he was tough, my tiny guy. 

But not tough enough to share space in my misshapen uterus, housed in my 41-year-old, stressed-beyond-belief body. 

I’m so sorry.

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