I hoped it would get better after 28 weeks. I hoped that the constant anxiety would somehow decrease, even just a little bit. I thought that maybe, just maybe, I would feel an exhale of relief that she would be okay. But that’s not that case. It’s only getting worse. The panic escalates daily and my ability to rationalize my own thoughts only becomes much less rational. I am not sure that this kind of fear can be explained but I will try to make some sense of it. If not for me, for the many other women whom I know I will awake tonight in panic until she feels her baby move.
It’s an obsession. Her movement determines my mood, every.second.of.every.day. I am in a constant state of hyper-vigilance, always awaiting her next movement. Kick by kick. That’s how I live these days. It’s not day by day or week by week. I need to feel her move all day long or I am convinced she isn’t alive. The farther along she gets, the more cloudy this all becomes. Her movements must meet my criteria or I am distracted, completely unfocused and panicked. One kick every once in a while doesn’t soothe me. I can feel her moving and then literally not feel convinced she is alive just moments later. If I am lucky, she has an active night so I can feel her when I am switching positions every hour during my sleep. If not, I will lay awake and poke my belly until she reacts. The cycle goes all day and all night.
There have been nights where I have cried hysterically while my husband holds the Doppler on my belly. I can hear her beautiful strong heartbeat clearly but the terror still lives deep within my bones. After all, everyone has a heartbeat until they don’t anymore. Tears flowing, it’s impossible to catch my breath and I see the look of helplessness in his eyes as he stares back at me knowing there are no words. He feels it too. It is the most daunting feeling I have ever experienced. Each day is filled with so much fear. Fear that one day, she won’t react to my pokes. Fear that one day, the doppler will be silent. Fear that one day, our biggest fear will come true, all over again. Imagine this, you suffered through a horrific plane crash, one with fatalities. You are now on an airplane again, thousands of feet in the air with no control, except this flight lasts over 9 months long. There is turbulence along the way. Everyone around you is smiling and excited. Even though you also feel the anticipation to reach the destination, all you can feel is terrified on the ride there. People who have never experienced a plane crash tell you to relax and enjoy the ride because it will “be over soon.” Yes, yes I know. I can’t wait for her to be here. I want her to arrive here safely at the end of this flight more than anyone in this world. But telling me to relax is like saying that the plane crash I experienced “wasn’t that bad.” It was bad. It was horrific. It still is. The memories of it all don’t just go away. They come forward, stronger and louder. The entire plane ride is filled with triggers of the crash. And nobody can promise me that this flight will land safely no matter how much we all want to believe that it will.
I can’t seem to find the strength to fully trust my body. But maybe that’s exactly where our Lord wants me. To a place on my knees, at His holy feet, finding trust in Him alone. Trusting Him enough to trust Him with the body He created, the same body that He so blessed with this baby for the past 29 weeks. It’s Him. And maybe that’s why nothing else brings my heart peace. I pray several times per day for this little girl, for my anxiety and for our futures. But am I really trusting? Can I find it in me to really let go and let Him? The truth is, being human is really hard. We just can’t seem to give up control. But this is also the reality of trauma. Our minds and bodies overtake our hearts to protect us, which is yet another gift from our Lord. I have learned that being in a constant state of terror, will make it impossible for me determine my intuition versus my fear. So I must rely on Him in these moments, in every moment. I belong to Him and so does our daughter. I have to remember that each kick and each beat of her heart comes from Him alone.
The difficult truth is simply this; I am a messy believer. We all are. Because next to losing her, my next biggest fear is how will I survive if that happens? How would I survive another silent birth? How would I walk through the doors of an empty home again? How would I bury another child? How would I get out of bed each day? How would I breathe?
Would I still trust Him?
Then I hear His subtle voice. His reminder that it doesn’t matter. He will still be there. No matter what it takes, no matter how much I will ever falter or fail. Yes, I am messy. But I am not God. He is. I am not supposed to be perfect at this, at anything. There is no way He has allowed my life to unfold the way it has without beautiful intention. And I trust that with all of my heart. Because He is a good Father. One that does not desire my heartache. One that does not delight in watching me cry out in fear. One that does not want more pain for me.
I can’t promise that knowing all of this will make the next several weeks easier but I do know He will be with us through it all. I do know that He is holding my heart and our baby in His hands…moment by moment, day by day, week by week…
Kick by kick.