I am a bit flabbergasted that my little girl is two years old. She kept growing, and time kept passing, and here she is, and she’s not a baby anymore.
I suppose this should feel like the usual course of events. Right? I mean, I found Tom, we fell in love, we decided to have a baby, I was pregnant, I gave birth, and I have been caring for this child ever since. Why does it feel so remarkable?
On April 2, 2007, I gave birth to a living child, and I still can’t quite believe it. I feel as if my consciousness split in half, starting at about 5:30pm on 4/2/07, and ever since then, I have been living this life with Lily, and my doppelganger has been living without her.
The doppelganger, somehow, follows multiple paths and alternate scenarios, all leading to Lily’s demise and my heart being ripped to shreds, and meanwhile I am on this one path, this lucky path threading through a minefield, with Lily alive and happy, innocent and unaware, while I am all-too-keenly aware of every narrowly-missed tragedy, or potential tragedies further down the path.
Here are some of the paths my doppelganger has walked down: In February 2007, she decides to refuse the glucose tolerance test for gestational diabetes, believing that GD is overhyped by the medical establishment. She is unaware that she has GD. Everything seems fine, until April 2, when she hasn’t felt the baby move for a while. When she visits the midwife, a heartbeat cannot be found. The baby has died.
In March 2007, she is extremely anxious and exhausted, and very hungry. She has GD and is on a restricted diet and is pricking her fingers four times a day to test her blood glucose and gives herself shots of insulin, and it is all quite difficult to cope with. She reviews the debates on GD and decides it’s not worth putting herself through all this rigamarole. She stops going to the twice-weekly monitoring at the hospital. In early April, at an appointment with the midwife, her baby has no heartbeat.
On April 2, 2007, she is totally compliant with the GD regimen but is having her twice-weekly monitoring at the midwives’ office at Holyoke Health Center rather than at the hospital, having been given the choice between the two locations when diagnosed with GD. While being monitored, the baby’s heart rate apparently vanishes. Mayhem ensues. An ambulance is called and rushes her to the hospital. She has an emergency cesarean. It is too late.
On April 2, 2007, she is at the hospital, being monitored. All seems well. The nurse who is keeping track of the test strips says, “Okay, everything looks great, see you again in a few days,” and unhooks everything at 5:20. She gets up and leaves. In the parking lot, she feels a tremendous sensation of movement from the baby, then it stops. She continues home, thinking all is well, but it’s not.
These are the scenarios that still echo in my head. I suppose it would be easy to accuse me of negative thinking and that I should just move on and be grateful. I AM grateful. I am, possibly, even more grateful because of my heightened awareness. But the part about moving on, putting it all behind me… I can’t. There is no such option. Part of me is still in a hospital bed in Holyoke, stunned, terrified, and unable to comprehend that my baby is slipping away or perhaps already gone.
April 2 is a complicated day. I am truly thrilled to be able to celebrate Lily’s birthday. I know I’m biased, but indulge me: she is a marvelous, beautiful, sweet, friendly, loving child. In my eyes, she is a magnificent flower. When I look at her or think of her, my heart practically bursts for joy. I know that there are many mothers who had similar moments of stunned disbelief and terror, except that there was no miracle in the end: their babies died. They would give anything to be celebrating their child’s birthday. Those babies, if they were alive today, would be magnificent flowers too. I don’t know how to express how important it is to me to stand in solidarity with those mothers and babies, to recognize and honor them.