A ray of hope
We went into the ultrasound scan after a lack lustre looking heart trace anxious and afraid and hoping against hope for some tiny movement some deliberate firm action from the still ‘wafty’ little Spaniard of the last 12 days. It was a different sonographer who did the scan and she had read through the notes, so she knew how gravely the my consultants have been reviewing the situation. The general feeling in the room was one of being about to have yet another difficult ultrasound and probably moving toward an imminent delivery for The Spaniard.
I wasn’t in tears when we started but I was barely breathing, by the time I left I was shaking and crying..
The grainy screen flickered on, and just kept flickering and moving, I thought she was in the wrong place or just wriggling the scanny device too much until I realised that it was still and the movement was actually coming from The Spaniard. Not as vigorous as we have experienced previously, but there was definite movement.
The little mouth opening and closing, making the sucking moves, the abdomen making breathing ins and outs and the tiny hands clenching and unclenching in front of its face … and then the arms began moving, fast. I asked her about the legs and she moved the scanny probe thing up (The Spaniard has been head down, spine to the left and bottom pointing straight up above my tummy button for the last 2 weeks, arms and legs squashed in on the right side) … its legs kicked out, they started making sort of cycling moves. I started to cry.
The midwife sonographer said, “it’s certainly putting on a performance for us now” and Roy just stared open-mouthed grinning saying, “it’s bouncing again, it’s bouncing”. I felt totally overwhelmed, not the same euphoria he felt by any means, just stunned and almost disbelieving … then I felt it move through my tummy and I started to feel just blank inside somehow, numb … all the exhaustion and mental angst of the last fortnight just rose up and hit me. This scan was to measure the growth … it was apparently a bit too soon for the normal growth curve measures (should be a fortnight exactly between growth measurement scans) but she measured where we’d got to and averaged it against the normal curve. All the time the little soul had been lying silent and still it had been growing … exactly the ‘normal’ ‘average’ amount (usually such horrible words but in this context seemingly miraculous). She measured its skull, across the head, round the head, the femur length and around its abdomen … and somehow threw all the lengths into a blender and came out saying The Spaniard now weighs around 5lbs 11oz. She checked the fluid, the heart beat, the placenta, the blood flow, the oxygen exchange and everything that had been good on all the scans even when it wasn’t moving, everything here was and continued to be normal as well.
All this time I stared incredulously at the screen not really able to take it in and not understanding or quite believing what I was seeing. All the scans in the last fortnight have been somehow ‘de-personalised’ talk of foetal length, of abdominal cavity and more technical somehow … now here we were hearing “your baby has long hair”, ‘Your baby has alot of hair”, “your baby is sticking its tongue out” and all sorts of personal observations … so so different. The sonographer even put the scanner on The Spaniard’s face for a little while which I found too much and just totally broke down at … seeing its eyes opening and shutting, the definition around the lips and the hair ‘floating’ around its face … all too much to deal with. She quickly turned it off saying, “I didn’t mean to make you cry” … she gave us a couple of pictures from the 4d scan thing of The Spaniard’s face but they are too intimate to share and just feel too unreal… maybe if we all make it through a safe delivery.
I went into the main waiting room from where I was called for a blood pressure test, and promptly keeled over and was hugely fussed over and given very sticky sweet lemon squash, a window seat and a fan … I think the absolute shock and reality and, well every emotion possible in the last 2 weeks just got to me and I started shaking violently.
We then saw the head consultant, who said in a very gentle and kind way that this was cause to feel “reassured” … I again asked why, how, what??? and he again gently responded by saying, “we’ve discussed this at length already, we don’t know what caused all this, it may happen again or it may not”. The baby will be looked after by pediatricians after it’s born to check it thoroughly. He said to come back in if anything was remotely untoward or I felt the movements stopping again, the midwife said to come in any time and have heart traces and they agreed I need to have frequent ultra sounds to monitor The Spaniard. Any change for the worse again and it will be ‘straight out’. They have no idea really what causes cot death or many of the reasons for still birth. The mystery of what is going on with The Spaniard may also remain unsolved – though it will be checked and rechecked for anything at all untoward when it is born. Listen to me! I’m able to type that again … how very different from my last entry and all of the last 2 weeks.
The consultant again counselled calm, normalizing, walking, rest and just getting on with enjoying the last days before the baby is born and said, “I definitely won’t be doing the Cesarean tomorrow after all” – yet another point at which I realised how overwhelmingly concerned everyone had been.
So … there we are, the little monkey has moved around a reasonable amount since… again nothing like it was doing but enough to make its presence felt. It took a long time for me to stop shaking, and to realise that the black black oppressive weight on my back had lifted. I still feel cautious and afraid that it might come back, but as one of the (very emotional) midwives who had been doing the heart traces said when I went and found her to tell her what had happened, there is no telling if it will come back or not, but after what The Spaniard had put us all through the fact that it had resumed movement after so long meant it was a fighter. So, was it a little virus or is there an underlying sickness or is there some structural damage… we don’t know and we may never know. It will be checked when it is born and I hope and pray that it doesn’t come back over the next few days.
Christmas feels like a possibility now, not real but some kind of normality feels faintly possible … I had a walk in the sunshine today, I had a cup of hot milk with a friend and I bought Roy a birthday present … all unthinkable yesterday and all of which would have been impossible if I’d had the Cesarean today as it seems they had in mind.
As I left the hospital I walked into the hospital chapel. It is a multi faith space, Christian, Catholic, Muslim .. and people of all faiths were sharing the peaceful cool room in their own way. I just sat by myself and said thank you … over and over and over again; to God, to The Spaniard, to the doctors, the midwives, to fate and to everyone who has been and continues to hold me up, lit candles, prayed, willed, hoped and yearned for a positive outcome, and to those who have sought and tested for reasons why and wrestled with what to do. The response of the sonographer and the midwives and the people on the ward where I was when they heard that I wasn’t about to be admitted for a cesarean made me realise even more quite how seriously they took everything and how concerned and worried they were. I heard yesterday of another friend whose baby died within moments of being born just this week (the second time hearing such sad news in a fortnight) and this again reminds me that we are not out of the woods and that the whole pregnancy / birth process isn’t as simple for everyone. On the positive side I also found out that other friends gave birth to a winter solstice baby girl, mother and baby doing really well last night.
Now? Now I feel absolutely wiped out, relieved, reassured, nervous and totally exhausted. I tried to rest later this afternoon, I couldn’t sleep for the tremendous activity inside my tummy… so I’m shattered but smiling. Roy is over tired and irritable, my wonderful mother is weary but gently continues her loving support and quietly put the decorations on the Christmas tree this afternoon.
Normal service is not resumed, but it feels more possible to aim for. The Spaniard and I will continue being tested and monitored and maybe will still meet each other before Christmas, or come face to face next week, or the week after or even and I can’t believe I’m typing this, on the originally appointed date 12th January at 37 weeks and 6 days. That’s 3 weeks today… so strange to think that it was so nearly last week and then was all set to be today.
Thank you … thank you thank you for all the support and good wishes. We shall take it easy and do all we can to try to ensure we don’t end up back in hospital again. In the meantime, dance little Spaniard, dance, get back to where you were 2 weeks ago and give us an encore as well. This ray of hope really is a miracle which ever way you look at it … and hopefully will grow and grow.
Right then, time for some serious sleep … this whole roller coaster journey is so hard and so challenging … and not even a hot meal to be had at the end of it!!
Reassured is a good word for how seeing and feeling the movement has left me. We’re not out of the woods, but we’ve been shown that there is a way.