Tomorrow could be a day of truth for me. I go in at 10:15 and my doctor will remove my cerclage (the stitches that have been holding my cervix together for 6 months). I am a little bit nervous about this because anything could happen. I am going to be nervous to even stand up when he is finished in fear that the baby and all will come rushing out! My doctor explained that he has seen both extremes -- women going into labor within a few hours or days, and those who continue to incubate for a few more weeks despite the fact that there is no cervical length to speak of.
He said, "Well, you have defied all odds up till now so there is no telling what you will do!" I really don't think that he thought I would make it his far. He kept saying all along that he would be happy if I made it to 32 weeks, and now here we are at 36. Amazing.
Personally, I am expecting to be in labor within a couple of days from the removal of the stitches. This means after 16 weeks of incubating this precious, little girl and keeping her safe and snug inside my belly, I may actually be holding her in my arms this week. I'm not sure I am ready. There were times that I didn't even know if this would become my reality and now here we are.
When I stop and think about this whole process, I realize that it has truly been miraculous. Giving birth and carrying a baby full term is miraculous in and of itself. Sustaining a fragile life inside of you is astounding and wondrous, yet not easily understood when pondered. However, when you are faced with a situation like mine and the reality of life's fragility and precariousness are there to greet you each morning, you must come to terms that each day really matters --and the miraculousness of life is brought into sharper relief.
I remember very vividly being admitted into the hospital on that first day and not really thinking that my situation was very serious. My doctor was pretty emotionless. He did not convey any sort of sense of emergency or panic. He matter of factly sent me to the hospital to be monitored, and I thought that was the extent of it.
Most of you who know me know that I am a die hard optimist--glass always 1/2 if not 3/4 full--fairytale believer--sunny side up--kinda girl! It wasn't until Dr. Sunshine told me how "unviable" my pregnancy was and that I had been given a "raw deal" combined with a couple of comments from my girlfriends that I realized my situation may not have a happy ending. The birth of my daughter was uncertain. One of my girlfriends said, "Ashley, this is going to be your miracle baby," and another one came right out and asked me, "Do they think you can even carry her to term?"
Reality set in. My baby may not make it to term or if she is born, she may be born way too early and suffer some severe complications. Ventilators, respirators, feeding tubes, stomach tubes, kidney failure, underdeveloped heart, lungs, brain -- any of these things or a combination of any of them could be my reality. These are not thoughts that any mom ever wants to consider to be a possibility. They are all too scary, too chilling, too daunting. The vulnerability that surfaces is too painful to face.
This is when I had to let go and come to the realization that I was not in control. I had to have faith that God's grace was going to see me through this. I had to pray for peace of mind and the strength to face each day as they came.
It is at this point that I decided to make the best of my situation. I decided to embrace the time that I had been given to pray, reflect, meditate, read, write, create, etc. Things that I have trouble making time for in my every day non-bedrest life.
I can truly say that I enjoyed a lot of my time. Yes, there were times that were very difficult. I had moments of finding myself in fear and uncertainty. I had moments of loneliness and despair. But above all, I had moments of peace. I had moments of reflection. I had moments every day of listening to the rapid, little heart beat that was thriving inside me. I had moments of joy and anticipation.
As I am nearing the end, I hope that this experience will allow me to find more of these things in my everyday life. I am anticipating the second that I hear her cry and the next second when she will be placed on my bare chest - skin to skin. The tears will be flooding as I will remember she is our miracle baby.