34 WEEKS

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I posted an update to Instagram yesterday and wanted to share here too.

I had a grocery story clerk say to me this week, “Wow, you look like you’re ready to pop!” To which I responded, “Thank you!” enthusiastically and wholeheartedly. She looked at me confused. The five seconds were too short to explain all about the preterm labor, the hospital visits, the thought that I would never make it to 34 weeks let alone look “ready to pop” in this pregnancy. It was all I dreamed of hearing at 28 weeks in the ambulance. And here I am, still standing, buying groceries, pregnant at 34 weeks and looking like a healthy, normal, pregnant person. My perspective, along with nearly everything else, has changed. What a compliment, looking so full term. I’ll take it, every time.

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Two weeks ago I shared this:

Once you’ve experienced a pregnancy related complication, of any kind, you can’t “unsee” it. It changes you, you carry it with you. A part of the innocence and joy of an uncomplicated pregnancy is lost. There are other wonderful things too, that enter in. Like all of your friends showing up in both big and small ways, daily. And having your perspective and priorities shift to what really matters. And gratitude for all the little things. But there is still a loss. It’s like you took the red pill in the matrix, you can’t go back. We are different people for going through this. There’s a new layer of understanding and connectedness with people who have experienced similar things. People continue to reach out and connect with us, offering their stories, their empathy, their encouragement. We’re still so “in” it right now that it’s a difficult place to share from, and I don’t even really know what I think about all of it yet, or how I will look back on this season. But I do know that we are getting though it and we are finding joy, even in the middle of all the unknowns. It is not an easy place to be, and at times disorienting and filled with so much uncertainty, but there is a different kind of richness and depth to it, and there is so much good here too.

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We have now reached a milestone that originally seemed so far off. We are rejoicing. And yet, while we are breathing a huge sigh of relief, we also still don’t know how this story ends. We continue to take it one day at a time and are grateful for all the little wins. This pregnancy has taken nearly every ounce of my mental, physical and emotional strength, and as we near the finish line I feel so much like I’ve run a marathon, except maybe that a marathon would have been easier. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever worked for, and it’s not over yet. I’m doing my best at trying to enjoy this pregnancy again, which six weeks ago I didn’t think was possible. I’m finding joy in the small and big moments, and I keep going. Just a few more weeks till full term.

Thanks for being in it with us.

THE UNEXPECTED

It’s been seven days into this story, and it still doesn’t seem any easier to write.

We are home from the hospital. I am still pregnant.

Words, that last Friday night, I didn’t think I would get to write.

We entered spontaneous preterm labor last weekend, and found ourselves in the middle of a story we never imagined. It was a chaotic and traumatic few days, filled with middle of the night monitoring and vitals, strong medicines via IV, and a team of specialists, but they were able to stall labor. We were discharged with strict instructions for bed rest at home.

Now, we wait.

We don’t have many answers. No one can tell us if we will carry till term, or if we will deliver prematurely and have a lengthy NICU stay, or what this all means for our baby and our future family. We are told I could enter labor again at any point. One of the most confusing factors is that I am entering labor, daily - I continue to have contractions every evening, but they eventually fade. Only if they increase or my water breaks do we need to be admitted for true labor. We’ve already been back to the hospital in triage, for five minute apart contractions that lasted over an hour, for them to stop and for us to be discharged, earlier this week.

It is a terrifying place to be, living in the vast unknown and all the what if’s.

For the most part, we are ok. We are ok and we are not ok. Some parts of each day feel doable, and some parts feel so very hard. The contractions cause me to panic, and I enter this mildly-panicked state, daily. Imagine if your body was doing something involuntarily, that could cause you and your baby harm if it continued, and it could result in preterm labor and NICU stays, causing all kinds of aftermath and complications, the least of which you are concerned about is a giant bill. And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

It’s all so painful, in every sense of the word.

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Trauma, for me, is a little like holding your breath underwater. No sensation of gravity, or time, or the things that used to govern my daily life. Weightless, soundless. A distorted picture of real life walking around on the surface. People going to work, laughing. I covet the set of “problems” I used to worry about: what crib to buy, work stress, toddler tantrums. A sense of normalcy so far removed from my daily life.

Now my worries are: Is my baby going to make it? Will I go into active labor today? How long will our NICU stay be? Will my baby have long term complications? Will I survive this, emotionally? Can I do seven more weeks of bedrest to get us to full term? And for those questions, no one has the answers.

So we just keep going. One day, one hour, at a time. We have been so well supported by our family and friends, who have truly rallied around us with all kinds of support, bringing us decaf iced lattes, dinners, flowers, and especially, giving us just their presence. No one can fix this. But someone can sit with us and remind us that no matter how this goes, it’s all going to be ok.

And that, we’re finding, is exactly what we need right now.

Thanks for being in this with us. We are so grateful.