Are we out of the woods now?
This post is best read whilst listening to "Flowers in the window" by Travis
I can't remember exactly what I did during the agonising wait for the CVS results. I'm trying to focus and recall something, anything, about those deeply stressful days, but I just can't. I was still on maternity leave after Luca's loss, and I used to spend most of the time on my own - and most of it, at home. Now that winter was well and truly coming, and with my pregnancy nausea still affecting me quite badly, I can only guess that I spent those days doing what I used to do a lot at the time: drawing, listening to music, watching silly programs on Netflix.
The first thing I remember clearly was receiving a phone call, a couple of days after the procedure, from a hidden number. Again, hidden number to me meant one thing only: a call from the hospital, with some sort of test results. I was correct: they were ringing me to let me know that the baby didn't have any chromosomal abnormalities. It felt like my heart was stuck in my windpipe the entire time, and I couldn't swallow or breathe normally. When the nurse said that the final results would be available after at least ten days, I thought I was about to faint.
"Our genetic counsellor told us they would arrive after one week, at most," I said to the nurse, to which she replied that she was very sorry, but that wasn't what she had been told. How was I going to be able to wait an extra ten days, if not longer? Without knowing if my baby was fine? Living in another limbo, again? A terrifying, parallel universe that I had grown to know so well during my pregnancy with Luca - and that I simply couldn't afford to inhabit anymore. I also knew that most hospitals don't allow a surgical termination of pregnancy after 13-14 weeks, which means women need to go through labour and delivery. My brain, body, and soul genuinely couldn't cope with the mere thought of another stillbirth, especially only four months after losing Luca. A part of me was frightened to death. Another part was so strongly and consistently hopeful, and just "felt" that no, life and the universe couldn't be so cruel once again. They had already been not once, but twice. My body had already been through excruciating suffering. I had lost all innocence, joy, and naivety that, once upon a time, I used to associate with pregnancy. I had lost my first baby, to the words "I'm sorry, but I can't find the heartbeat". I had lost my second baby to a rare and lethal genetic disorder. My growing bump had been poked and prodded by many doctors only to be told that Luca would die. My beautiful, six-month bump had been pierced by too many needles - the cruellest of which was the one that stopped Luca's heart, forever. And then, I had gone through that very thing that, only reading about it a couple of months earlier, had made me say to Daniel: "How can a woman survive all of this? Terminating a pregnancy for medical reasons, having an injection to stop the baby's heart, and then going through all the pains of labour and deliver a stillborn baby? I think I would kill myself." I had really thought and said all of those things a few months earlier, whilst reading a leaflet which contained horrendous words like "feticide", "termination", and "stillborn". I had no idea that, only a few weeks after that moment, I would find myself in exactly that unthinkable, fucked-up position. I had not only lost a baby, and then another - I had lost huge, vital parts of myself. Somehow, tough, I was still alive, I was still breathing and living and carrying another life - "Please, whoever can listen to this, let this baby live," I kept thinking.
After a few, long days went by with no more calls or news, I decided to send a very emotional email to Dr W., our genetic counsellor in charge of the CVS results. I explained to her that I was feeling increasingly anxious, and that I was struggling with waiting so long for those crucial final results. I also pleaded to her that the results would be communicated via email and not on the phone - the idea of receiving a potentially devastating phone call made me feel physically sick. It was late morning, on Thursday 29th November 2018. I pressed "Send" and started waiting for Dr W's reply. I couldn't stop checking my inbox - I must have opened it at least half a dozen times every hour. Until, finally, just as I was getting ready for another night of anxiety and terrible sleep, at 6:18pm a new email popped up. The subject line read "Good news", and it was from Dr W. I read it very quickly, my eyes like crazed ping pong balls, and only really took in a few key words: "delighted", "unaffected", "just a carrier", "very pleased".
I was up in our bedroom, Daniel was two floors down, watching TV in the living room. I started laughing, shouting and dancing, all at once. My heart was racing, my eyes filled with tears, I hugged and stroke my bump and met Daniel halfway on the stairs yelling "He's OK! The baby is not affected!" An unbelievably heavy weight had suddenly been lifted. Another step forward, another glimmer of hope, another day closer to hopefully meeting our rainbow baby. Daniel and I hugged and kissed and cried and laughed hysterically, quite literally jumping around. Deep down, I knew that this didn't necessarily meant that we were now out of the woods - not at all. So much could still happen. So much could still go wrong. There was still so much time separating us from June, the month when I was due to give birth to our third baby. In my mind, we would not be out of the woods until I was holding him safe and sound in my arms - and possibly, beyond then. But that evening, I treated myself to the best gifts of all: hope.