I’m 15 weeks along today and finally feeling like hyperemesis has released me from its death grip. That’s not to say I feel 100% better, because I don’t. I’m still hooked up to my life lines – the IV and Zofran pump. But I’m actually keeping some food and drinks down and I’ve had some really good days.
Here’s the thing about good days, though: They scare the ever-loving crap out of me. For me, pregnancy = extreme sickness. So if I’m not feeling that extreme sickness, my first thought is, “Oh my God, I’ve lost the baby.” It’s awful, but I’m not the only one who does it. From what I’ve read, it’s a very common reaction from other HG sufferers. Now that I know what that kind of loss feels like, the fear is even worse. On a normal day, I feel mild anxiety about losing this baby. On a bad day, it’s all I can think about. And on a good HG day, I basically convince myself that this pregnancy is over and I’ll never have a baby to bring home.
Up to this point I’ve been having weekly doctor appointments and that’s helped keep that anxiety somewhat controlled. Now, it’s been almost two weeks since my last appointment and I’m constantly on the verge of having a major freak out. I thought I would be ok waiting that long, but there’s something comforting about being in the office, being checked on by nurses and my doctor, and listening to the baby on the doppler. It’s the only time I have someone else confirm – Yes, everything is still OK. I think I’ve felt the baby move – just an occasional, tiny thump – but it’s nothing I can confirm and it’s definitely not consistent enough to offer any kind of reassurance.
So what should I do as a pregnant woman with near constant anxiety about the losing the baby? I get a home doppler. I bought it when I was around ten weeks. I wasn’t able to find the baby’s heart beat until I was over 12 weeks. I’m not sure how I didn’t go crazy in those two silent weeks, but I managed. Now when I’m having that extreme anxiety about whether or not there is still a baby in there, I can pull out the doppler and track down the heart beat. It’s a magical sound. Fortunately, I’ve been able to limit my use to a couple of times a week, but just knowing I have the option is a great relief.
Another perk of the doppler? Derek. Whenever I get it out, he says, “Hear baby’s heart beat!” It’s hard not to start sobbing every time he says it. He was so much younger when I was pregnant with Hannah and he was never really aware of what was happening. We talked about “the baby” but he didn’t seem to grasp the idea completely. This time it’s totally different. Even when we were still trying to get pregnant, he was noticing babies everywhere. He’d fascinated with them. So now when we talk about “our baby” he seems to understand a bit better. When he sees a picture of the ultrasound, he gets excited and says, “Baby!” He’ll lift my tummy and say, “Baby in mommy’s tummy.” When we ask him if he wants a baby brother or a baby sister, he says, “Sister!” Again, it breaks my heart. He already has a baby sister, he just never got to know her.
I’ll admit, part of me is hesitant to talk to him about it so openly. I can’t help but worry about what we would do if we lost this baby, too. How can we explain it to him? How will he react? It’s hard to find a balance between wanting him to be excited and included, and worrying about the “What ifs.” I guess, in the end, we’ve decided to approach it in a positive way. We have to assume this baby will come home with us and that Derek will have a living brother or sister.
The alternative is just too painful to comprehend.