So I have been here a month. This is a very good thing. Even though it is miserable and borderline torture, it is a very good thing. This baby is still inside me and still growing safely. Sometimes I have to convince myself that being within these same four walls day after day is a good thing, because it often does not feel very good.
I am not chained to my bed (although I am supposed to wear leg squeezers and then I am literally chained to the bed – but I don’t wear those as often as I should). I have bathroom privileges– which means I am allowed to get up to use the bathroom in my room and I get to take a shower every three days. I am not allowed to leave my room except for special occasions.
Every two weeks I get an ultrasound which is three doors down the hallway and believe me, going three doors down the hallway is a very exciting outing. One day, I also got special wheelchair privileges to tour the NICU on the bottom floor. That outing was filled with very mixed emotions. It was the closest I have been to fresh air in three weeks, but it was also a scary look into my very near future of most likely delivering prematurely.
The visitor policy is currently very restricted because of the flu season. In this hospital (which is all related to pregnancy, birth, and newborns), I am on the only floor that allows children in and only my own children. I am very thankful that my girls can visit. Unfortunately, if they have any kind of a cold or cough symptoms, they are not allowed in. Since they began school, they have picked up many new germs, and I have gone a long time without seeing them. That is hard on all of us. Other visitors are allowed two at a time and only a few a day. I am told you also go through a screening process before being let upstairs. Surprisingly even with restricted visitors, many people come in and out of my room during the day. The nurses check on me. I get a visit from one of my three doctors every day. The counselor stops by a few times a week. The dietitian, physical therapist, and librarian have also all come to check in on me. I am still hoping a masseuse, a hairdresser, and a nail technician will stop by too. I’ll keep you posted if that happens.
The food isn’t terrible, but I am getting very tired of the same few selections. I am very thankful when my visitors bring meals and lattes from the outside world. In my free time (which I have a lot of) I google my favorite restaurants to see if they are within driving distance for my visitors. I also look up the yelp reviews of nearby places and drool over their menu and customer photos. The café down the street has an amazing Belgian waffle dessert with strawberries and whipped cream that I stare at frequently.
My production level has decreased significantly since I first got locked up. The first two weeks I was in here, I was very productive with skill share (online) classes and lettering. Now I mostly just binge watch shows. I am currently on season five of The West Wing. I wonder if my lack of desire to do anything at all is partly being depressed. My counselor assures me that there is no wrong way to survive hospital bedrest. It is just something you get through.
I miss so many things from the outside world while locked up in my fancy prison (this is what Abby calls it – it’s pretty accurate). I miss my girls the most–especially since I do not see them that often. I miss the normal activities with them or being able to console them when they are having a hard time. This traumatic transition has not been easy on any of us but especially hard on them. I miss Blake, too, although he gets to see me more. I miss eating dinner with my family. I even miss cleaning up after them–I know that is hard to believe. I miss the freedom to make my own food. I miss the outside air. I miss walking around and stretching my muscles.
I am thankful for so much. I am thankful the Olympics are on right now. You have no idea how thankful I am for the Olympics. I am thankful it’s Girl Scout cookie season. I may be eating my emotions one Girl Scout box at a time. I am thankful for all the support we have received from family and friends near and far. Every gift card, video message, bouquet of flowers, card, package, meal, and words with friends game has meant the world to me. (Side note: want to send me love and support and don’t know how? – play me in words with friends: LizzW30 – it is my favorite pastime).
Physically, I am doing just fine. I don’t feel like anything is wrong with me which makes it really hard to stay in bed all day. I am still at a very high risk for my water breaking or going into preterm labor. I am at the hospital because delivering this early is still very dangerous for the baby. This is one of the best NICUs on the West Coast, and I am thankful I am here. I am thankful I made it back from the DR. I am thankful my doctor sent me to have an in-depth ultrasound, and they caught this problem when they did. I feel much safer in the hospital than I did before. In a way, this confirmed all the fears I thought I had just because I was a mom who had previously lost a baby.
Once you join this club of moms, you learn of all the different possible complications. When you know these moms and hug them through their tears, these complications are no longer a list in a book, they are very real possibilities. This is partly why no part of a future pregnancy feels safe. You know babies that have died at every stage for many different reasons. When I had my ultrasound, I was prepared for so many of them. I knew that many different complications would lead to death. So when the doctor told me there was a problem with my cervix and my water sac and I was headed to the hospital and could possibly be admitted for a while, I was relieved. I know that is weird and many people may not understand. But what I heard in those words was: your baby is safe. Right now, your baby is fine. All of the baby’s organs are in the right place and growing correctly. Yes there is a problem, just like you thought. But right now, your baby is completely fine.
That is why I was so calm going to the hospital, calling my mom, calling Blake, being admitted. The baby was safe. They were going to watch the baby. Every eight hours they are going to check on the baby and analyze the heartbeat to watch for any concerns. At the push of a button I can share any concerns that come up in my overactive imagination. I can have every twinge and pain checked out at any time day or night. I don’t have to worry right now. Other people are looking out for my baby. In so many ways, I am way less stressed in the hospital than I have been this whole pregnancy. I have slept better in here than the past three years.
I still know life is fragile, a gift, not promised, and our days are numbered. I am still aware of the number of ways I could lose this baby. But I don’t feel as responsible as I used to, to catch any potential problems that may arise.
I have also come to accept that my baby will most likely be born prematurely. My baby will most likely spend weeks if not months in the NICU. The healing image I had of a crying baby in the delivery room has faded. The baby will most likely be taken to the NICU before I get to see him or her, and I will have to wait until after I am done with recovery to see my baby. It may be days or weeks before I get to hold my baby. The girls and other family will not get to visit the baby in the NICU. These are realizations I have had to wrestle with and accept.
There is still potentially a long hard journey in front of us, depending on what complications this baby may have due to being born prematurely. So much of our future is very up in the air right now. But we are here. We are in a very good hospital and in very good medical hands. God brought us safely here. We are in His hands. He is caring for us, and that is easy to see here. Seeing His care for us in this past month has been reassuring to my heart. I doubt; I question; I carry fear; I sin. My faith is easily shaken, but He remains faithful. He is constant. He is unwavering. His love for me is steadfast.
Since losing Ella, I have clung to Isaiah 43. So much of that chapter I love, but now that I am walking this road of pregnancy after loss, I especially find comfort in verse two.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2
I know to my core how fragile life is on this earth. I know how fragile life is inside my womb. I know there are no guarantees I will successfully bring this baby into this world alive. I know what it is like to lose a baby. I know what it is like to walk through fire. I know that it is very possible that I might face the fire of losing another baby again. Nowhere in God’s Word does it promise this baby will live. BUT, it does promise that if I walk through fire again, the flames will not consume me. I will not be burned. I don’t know how because it sure feels like I will burn, be consumed, and crumble, but His Word promises He will be with me and the flames will not consume me. That is what I put my trust in. Those are His promises.
So I sit here and sometimes allow myself to think about the many different possibilities my future could hold. Sometimes it is too hard, and so I drown out my thoughts with the fast-paced chatter of The West Wing while eating some thin mints. But every night I go to bed thanking God for another day. I put my hand on my belly and ask for His blessing on this tiny baby; I ask for one more day of sanity in this fancy prison and one more day with this baby in my womb.