So, I’m here going along in cruise control waiting for Zoe to appear in about 9 more weeks, pretty quietly secure that she can’t hide bin that womb forever. More importantly, I’ve been confident that she’s coming out alive (and she is). But three days ago, I got a powerful and precious reminder not to take that for granted, and to enjoy each day along the wait.
I was truly cruising along, watching old safety movies with a buddy of mine. One that we’ve been waiting to see for weeks was only about an hour away in the pile. The title, “One Step From Death” has been pretty morbidly appealing, and then someone told us that we should be careful, and that it was very graphic. With that in mind, we planned to eat our lunches during that one. But it was an hour away, and we had other films to watch, critique, and make ourselves obnoxious with, and that we did.
Then the phone rang. It was my wife Becky, and she never calls from work. So I picked it up, and she was worried. She hadn’t really felt much of Zoe moving so far that morning. The day got less funny. Becky had spoken with the nurses, scheduled and appointment, and was drinking water by the bucketful, so everything we could do (and prayer followed shortly) was happening. With the water, Zoe started to fight back against the encroaching bladder, so we were pretty confident but grateful for the reassurance the doctor’s office could provide. Since the appointment wasn’t for a couple of hours, I finished the movies. “One Step From Death” really turned out to be disappointing as a film, and thankfully not the title of a mourning blog entry.
A friend has asked several times if we’ve gotten to see the difference in care yet for this pregnancy. Prior to this, I couldn’t tell, but there wasn’t anything for them to pin down. This week, our doctor was gone on vacation, but the nurse had good and quick answers, and the office made sure to get us right in. Now I’ve seen a difference. They weren’t messing around with Doria’s time, and they’re really not messing around now. If there’s something to run, they’re doing it, and we like it.
At 32 weeks, we were going to start the nonstress tests. We went ahead and did that this week. Instead of the Doppler wand for a short time, they hook Becky up to a machine for about half an hour to track the baby’s heartbeat over that extended time. Zoe was clocking in at a solid 145 for a bunch of minutes when the tech needed to step out for a second. As soon as she gently closed that door, Zoe chose to move away, because she’s obnoxious like that, and apparently some sort of tiny daredevil. When Zoe moved, the sensors lost her heartbeat, and the numbers on the screen gave way to three dashes.
That prompted quick action, and I asked a nurse for the tech using something vague in case I freaked out anyone that might overhear. She was there in the blink of an eye, let us know that this happens when babies move, and she tracked our girl down. Apparently, Zoe moved to go play around the umbilical cord, so we spent a little extra time monitoring. That was good.
I learned two things very quickly right there:
1. The nonstress test is plenty stressful for the parents just sitting there.
2. Babies in the womb like to play around the umbilical cord. I’ve heard it before, now I’ve seen it tracked, and that freaks me out. ***If you’re pregnant, don’t read this line: It seems to me that these little miracles really do float around one step from death. That’s horrifying, because no one can do anything about that. Zoe does her little daredevil thing that I hope she grows out of really fast, and she won’t, and that’s just how it is. Ugh.***
With that solid 145 going on and on and on, they also set up an ultrasound time for us. They (and we) could watch Zoe practice her breathing, just to see visually that everything was going fine. You know that you’re playing for keeps when they make sure that your baby is practicing their breathing, but that’s the game we play now. Zoe was, and is, breathing. That was fantastic! Zoe didn’t exactly want to cooperate, but she met the ultrasound buzzer, and she learned to cooperate. If anyone is thinking of gift ideas, ever, I want one of those. We saw her turning and kicking. We saw her heart beating. We saw her diaphragm as she breathed. Zoe is obnoxiously and beautifully racing right along.
All of that brought on a huge sigh of relief. We know that Zoe is not one step from death, or certainly not one step past it. That’s good. So we enjoyed some ice cream with our sigh of relief. For her part, Zoe is kicking much harder or more noticeably since that day. That makes both parents happy. To keep the celebration going, we’ve started packing the suitcase for the time there and the way out of the hospital.
The happiest part: We’re packing to win, because we’re winning. This is going to be a really long 9 weeks. My heart (and Becky’s) will feel a bunch of times like they’re one step from death. Things are going to get more and more tense, then happy, then tense, then happy, until Zoe Day, but I do believe that we’re going to win.
Zoe brings a whole lot of scares. That seems to be her thing. I think she needs a new thing, but we’ll deal with that after Zoe Day. Until then, the ride goes on.