It has been eight months since we set foot in the labor and delivery unit of this hospital — we lost our baby girl in room 13 last May, following a nightmarish few months consumed by trips to the emergency room, bleeding with unknown causes, and bouts of contractions.
A fluke. Random occurrence. Not likely to repeat itself. Those are the words our doctor used in describing the loss of Angel Belle at 23 weeks gestation (read more about our loss on The Huffington Post). Comforting? Not really. Yet, as we approached our next pregnancy, I tried using that theory as a mantra. For the first 25 weeks of Hugo Christopher’s time in my wife’s stomach, that belief held true.
Textbook. That’s how my wife has described our second pregnancy. Textbook. Gone were the late-night sprints to the emergency room. The uncontrollable bleeding was a distant memory. I started to believe our doctor’s “fluke” diagnosis. Then came week 26. Bleeding. Again. Cue the crippling sense of dread.
I found myself cautious to exude optimism on Facebook as Hugo’s growth progressed — I don’t do in person emotion. It certainly wasn’t superstition. Not my cup of tea. Bottom line: I didn’t want to explain another nightmare, should the worst take place. I could handle the loss. What I couldn’t handle was another wave of comfort.
When we lost Angel Belle, the flood of comfort from friends, family and strangers was truly appreciated. I cried. I screamed. I attended a support group. It became an emotional cleanse. A leech had been placed on my heart, and now that bloodletting was complete. Any further comfort would suck me dry. Just the facts, ma’am. My heart had adopted a Joe Friday disposition.
Just the facts — Fact: I’m writing this while we sit in labor and delivery. Fact: At week 25, my wife started bleeding. Fact: It wasn’t a fluke. Fact: Hugo Christopher has made it past the stage of viability. Fact: We’re remaining positive!
Actress Emily Blunt was recently quoted as saying the process of raising children “is such a fear-based industry.” If raising children is full of fear, then what would one call pregnancy? Fact: Following the loss of Angel Belle and throughout the trials of Hugo Christopher’s pregnancy, my belief in normalcy is shattered.
We’re now approaching the third week of hospital bed rest. Unsettling? Certainly. And yet, I also find it somewhat comforting. Three weeks in the hospital means three weeks of growth for Hugo. That’s three less weeks of time he’ll need to stay in the NICU.
Fact: As I walk by room 13 each time I leave for work, I’m reminded of our loss, but also of our future. Hugo made it over the threshold of 24 weeks gestation — until 24 weeks, a baby is not viable outside of the womb. Despite what are now weekly bouts of bleeding, all scans point to a healthy baby. In three days, Hugo will reach 28 weeks gestation. Fact: At least 90% of babies who are born at 28 weeks survive, according to the National Institutes of Health. That’s a comforting fact.
I originally wrote this article for Medium.com.