29 weeks, 5 days.
That's how long our sweet Kenna lived.
We had 4 more days with her before she was delivered at 30 weeks, 2 days, but the date that pounds in my brain is 29 & 5.
And today I am 29 weeks.
I've done this before, gotten through this week (and the ones that follow) of chaos and craziness and worry and reminders. More than once...three times, in fact.
Three times I have gotten through it with a lot of deep breathing, prayers, supportive friends, understanding doctors, and the knowledge that I had no reason to believe anything would go wrong this time.
Except that last one doesn't apply this time.
I have every reason to believe something could, can, and will go wrong eventually.
Heaven help me.
Granted my prayer life is probably better than it every has been, I have plenty of time for deep breathing, I finally have all of the doctors on the same plan, and my friends have been rallying around me for the last 11 weeks and I don't imagine they plan on stopping now.
I haven't completely driven them crazy.
I don't think.
I'm scheduled for a biophysical profile tomorrow and check up with my local OB.
He will talk me down from my seemingly perpetual precipice for a day or two, but the truth is that my anxiety will only build from here.
Over the weekend, my intense braxton hicks contractions began. Honestly I'm lucky they have waited this long, as they usually begin much sooner, but now I have the lovely reminder every time I stand up, roll over, walk up and down stairs (or most any other distance greater than about 20 feet), or pick up one of my other kids. I've been told that we absolutely don't want my cervix to even think about dilating and one of the reasons for a c-section is that no one knows how/if Siena will handle contractions and the physical stress of labor.
She's had so much stress this far.
We also found out over the weekend that our priest is going to be gone all but two or three of the weeks of the rest of my pregnancy. He's going to the Holy Land the first two weeks of December (which we knew about) and then on a mission trip to Guatemala the first two weeks of January (which we also knew about), but what we didn't know is that after the mission trip he is spending another 4 weeks on sabbatical. So basically unless she is born and dies between 32 and 34 weeks our own priest won't be here for her baptism or funeral. Since he covers 3 parishes and somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 sq miles of our rural county (total estimate, it might be more) and we have only lived here for a little over a year we know exactly ZERO other local priests. We did know one (sort of) but he moved away. So a stranger will share these moments with us, I guess?
I won't lie, of course I want more than a couple days or a week with her anyways, and if that happens maybe he will be back in time? But we have no one telling us that is even possible It is only our own faith, and not the medical profession, that gives us that kind of hope. They are optimistic, but won't even venture a guess on having more than a day or so with her.
In some ways, I have felt more and more, the further that we go, that this is something we ultimately have to do on on our own anyways. It's ours to figure out. Having a priest will be important, but it isn't the most important thing and who that priest is isn't going to change anything.
Or I'm going to keep telling myself that anyways.
In truth, the idea that our parish priest will likely never know this little one breaks my heart. I know, from experience, that it is really hard for people who have never met a baby to really offer support long term. It's not their fault, but it doesn't make it less true. Not to mention, I don't want to be explaining and re-explaining and getting to know someone new at that time. (As a convert, I've never even been to a Catholic funeral... forget planning one.)
I feel like I'm planning and preparing for her life and her death simultaneously.
I had been (am trying to) working really hard on focusing on only the life, however short that is, but knowing this (and finding out this week of all times) gives me a sense of urgency to not completely forget the death part. If you could spare an extra prayer or two this week (and the ones that follow) I would definitely appreciate that. We are entering the home stretch in more ways than one.
I made an analogy to a triathlon a few weeks ago. Our swim was from that 18 week mark and my initial bleeding to viability, our bike is from viability to delivery, and the run will be whatever happens after that.
While we push through the final miles of the bike, we are definitely tiring.
It feels like it would be easier to just get off the bike and wait for roadside pick up.
Someone to say, "Good job you made it this far. You'll finish next time."
Regardless of our fatigue, however, we continue to pray for a marathon instead of a sprint.
I want the Tshirt, the finisher's medal, and the end of race celebration.
Because, if my perinatologist is correct, there might not be a next time.