We had a scare recently. At a wedding in California this weekend, for seemingly no reason at all, I went into preterm labor. This was complicated by multiple factors, the most pressing of which were at the time I was only 26 weeks along, and separated from our toddler and our home by a few state lines. After spending a nervous and uncomfortable night in the hospital, and running just about every test in the book, I was given a medication that brought my contractions to a stop, and then sent on my way, with no clear understanding of why this had happened or if it would happen again. Two extremely nerve wracking flights, and a 3 hour trip in the car later, I made it home all in one pot-bellied piece. Yesterday I followed up with my midwife who confirmed all is well, and suggested I proceed with my pregnancy as if it were completely normal, because at this point in time, medically it is.
Except it doesn’t feel that way.
Instead of being able to take a deep breath and relax in knowing everything is fine, my body buzzes with nerves. Every muscle twitch, every movement is analyzed and questioned. Are the contractions coming back? Is this time the real deal? Is the baby still alive?
Now if this is where you are shaking your heads and saying, “It could be worse,” please know that I understand this. This all could have gone so, so very differently, and so tragically wrong, and trust me when I say I feel absolutely stupid for feeling the way I do.
But man, am I having a hard time letting go of the fear.
Hearing the nurse tell me in the hospital that the NICU was ready for us if we needed them sent chills down my spine. Listening to her explain how she would start the baby on steroids if things continued down the path they were going, I actually let out an audible groan. Not a groan like a frustrated patron who has been waiting on their check for too long, but a guttural, uncontrollable, I-might-break type of groan, the memory of which still gives me goosebumps. Because at that moment, more so than ever before, I was completely and utterly terrified.
The fear of losing my unborn baby elicited a response so powerful and all-consuming, that a few totally fine, contraction-free days later, telling me to carry on as if everything is normal almost feels like an insult. Casually suggesting I should be happy because everything turned out okay feels insincere and dismissive. Maybe everything on my labs said I was fine, but my head and heart feel so shredded and profoundly shaken, I don’t even think my husband can fully understand.
But perhaps the worst part of all is knowing I am actually the one in the wrong. Because medically I am fine. And the baby is fine. And everything worked out fine. And I should be thankful for the care I received, and take solace in knowing that if the baby did show up, they were prepared to give him the very best shot at surviving. Yet even as I sit here thinking through all of this, my head still spins with panicky what-ifs.
My best guess is soon enough my head and heart will calm down and equilibrate, leaving me in a better place to process what happened — and more importantly, what didn’t. Even in this jumbled place I hear how whiney I sound, and how maligned my focus is. But I also know some of you will get this, and maybe, just maybe, you can help light my way back home.
Image credits: Cover photo, sunset belongs to HMDHM