Last night, I listened for Baby’s heartbeat with my monitor. And it was my worst fear: I couldn’t find it quickly. I dragged the monitor around, slowly. I thought I caught it for a fleeting moment, but that wasn’t good enough for me. I re-lathered myself up with more coconut oil. I adjusted the volume, trying to find the precarious balance with being able to hear, and hearing too much (like pumping blood, stomach sounds, or my own heartbeat).
I thought “This is it. When I go in for my appointment next week, there will be no heartbeat.” I considered calling my OB’s office in the morning, a Saturday, to see if I could get an appointment. But on Sunday, I will be 20 weeks. Medically distinct. A stillbirth versus a miscarriage. It always bothers me that Iris is classified a miscarriage since I had to go through labor and delivery. She was born. So if I have had a loss, that threshold matters to me, where so little else matters.
I applied coconut oil again. And finally found a heartbeat. I sat quietly and listened for a few minutes. I have heard it so many times now that I could tell it was a little slower. That sent me into another frantic round of googling, but that seems to be normal. Baby could be sleeping.
However, the incident sufficiently scared me that I swore I would not listen again before my ultrasound, at least not until maybe the night before. My own heart was racing.
Today was another day. I needed that reassurance. Heart rate monitor again, found the heartbeat quickly, and at the pace I was used to hearing. As I tucked the monitor away, I realized though that finding the heartbeat is doing little to calm me down. I am using it as a substitute for my bigger fear, which is that growth will not be normal during the ultrasound next Thursday. Now, I suppose, I expect that a heartbeat will be found. It is all of the other unknowns that are driving me to look for something, anything, to indicate to me that everything is progressing normally.
I examine myself in the mirror, trying to assess my size, which is a futile effort. I have gotten to the point where I can no longer easily see my lower abdomen for my daily injections of Lovenox and have to rely instead on the bathroom mirror. Growth is there, but is it enough?
I still refuse to wear maternity clothes, covering myself instead in loose shirts and sweatpants. At this point, now I’m scared that if I pull out my maternity clothes, I’ll just need to pack them away soon. I keep buying more loose clothing, justifying it that if I have another loss, I’ll need to hide that post-pregnancy shape while I try, once again, to lose weight after an incomplete pregnancy. Trying so hard to shield myself in any way possible.
I go back and forth, almost to the minute, between “everything will be fine, stop worrying” to “it’s almost over.”