Mom, is that my baby sister?
No Bug, that's a sick baby in China.
My baby sister died. I want a new one.
Although I'm clear of guilt in the process, knowing full well there's nothing I could've done, that's not exactly true.
I had 14 or so ultrasounds through 32 weeks, and all were fine. I know now that you can't see liquified white matter or lethal proteins or glaucoma on an ultrasound.
I did my kick-counts daily. And although Maddy was less active than Bella, she passed every single one. I know now some of these may have been seizure activity.
There was no time -- absolutely no time -- at which we could've delivered early and saved this pregnancy. If the one doctor was right, she was on a track headed in the wrong direction from conception. If the other doctor was right, she was gripped by infection around 25 weeks. If there's a future pregnancy, there is no point at which I can relax, no date which I can squarely wrap my head around and figure "That's it. If I make it there, and she's still kicking, she'll live." That date will be labor, and I'll find out shortly after a baby's removed from me, when a doctor gingerly tries to peel back an eyelid to see if the corneas are clouded over, whether that child will live or die.
I had amnio, it was perfectly normal.
I don't stay awake thinking that I should've called about that abdominal pain, or I should've pressed harder on a certain ultrasound reading. There were no signs to be had. I sought medical attention regarding the bleeding and the low-lying placenta, and the result was always the same: The baby is fine. I don't worry that I should've delivered her earlier -- I would've wound up exactly where I am now, just with a different set of dates to mourn around.
There is no point at which this train wreck could've been avoided.
Except the very first step: the phone call. Picking up the phone to call the RE, and explain in an attempted cool voice that yes, I'd like to try this again.
I did not remotely enjoy my pregnancy, and I'm very sure that to the extent babies are aware in utero, Maddy probably didn't enjoy it much either. And the only thing that could've prevented this entire mess, was not picking up the phone.
I explained to someone last week that I'm the kind of person that likes to at least explore things, say things, just so I know -- so I don't go through the rest of my life thinking What if. I went to visit all of the colleges I got into, even the ones I hated on sight, because I didn't want to stay up nights thinking Would I have been happier there? Did I make the right decision? I always got what was on my mind about a boy off my chest even if the answer was No, thank you, or in the case of my now-husband, at least 90 seconds and two subject changes after asking the question, Yes, yes I would.
And so there is a small piece of me that would consider going to the RE if nothing else to find out if there's even a chance. Of course the RE is always going to tell a patient there's a chance given the right protocol, but I feel I somewhat need to know the answers to my personal parameters so I can sleep at night, and lie next to my husband in good conscience knowing it was a matter of science and not my emotional failings: I was too old. There was no way we could have another safely.
But I can't pick up the phone. I find other things to do, other appointments to make first, weight that needs lost, things I need to take care of before embarking on the multi-appointment hell that marks the six-week work-up to figure out the condition of my reproductive system. I can't pick up the phone because this is where I could've saved Maddy. Right here. Pushing those buttons and making that initial three-day blood draw appointment followed immediately by calling the pharmacy. A cell phone call from an oppressively hot car on an Arizona street, the day after a wedding, on the way to get tampons and lunch. That's where I failed her, as I sat unknowingly holding her fate from the passenger seat in the rental car right around noon on that Monday. And I don't want to put another child through that ever again.
Maybe Maddy was the question. Maybe that was me asking if --What If -- I could have another child, and taking that chance, and I need to acknowledge that the answer was a resounding No.