Monday, September 21, 2009

37 Weeks

Unlike some, I haven't been one to watch the calendar since Isla died. I did not mark the one and two month "anniversaries" of her birth and death. Those days came and went, just like other days. Apparently I still like to torture myself though, because just now, for some reason I myself do not understand, I went online to determine how many weeks pregnant I would, or rather, should be. The answer: 37 weeks. Full term.

I have been asked a few times when telling Isla's story whether she was full term. I HATE that question. I always defensively respond by saying she was past the point of viability, and explaining that she quite possibly could have lived outside of me without any long term health complications. I wish I did not have to feel so defensive, but I also wish people understood the depths of my loss and knew not to ask such insensitive questions.

The past 12 weeks feel like an eternity. I feel like I have aged 12 years. I'm old, worn out. It is hard to imagine that I could still be pregnant with Isla now, and could be for several more weeks. Hard to imagine her living inside of me all this time. I can't help but wonder how she might look if she arrived today. How much would she weigh? How long would she be? How much longer would those long feet of hers be? How much bigger those big hands? How much more hair would she have? Would her little face look the same?

Isla was so incredibly perfect, it is hard to believe that she needed another 12 weeks or more of growing to be ready for the world. She was of course tiny, but she was big, very big, for her gestational age. She weighed 810 g, when the maximum range of "normal" birth weights at 25 weeks is only 759 g. She was also very long - 13 inches, when the average length at 25 weeks is only 9. It makes me proud to think of how big she was. How big, and and how seemingly strong and healthy. Like I did a good job of growing her right up to the point of her death.

We were given the preliminary autopsy report last week. Despite that the report was completed on July 7th, we did not receive a copy until last Thursday, when it was faxed to us because my OB decided it was not worth having us come in to discuss the results because the report said very little. Why did I have to wait almost 3 months to receive it then? And why, now, I am still having to wait another three months or more for the final report? So frustrating.

While the preliminary report said little, it did indicate she had pericardial and pleural effusions and ascites (collectively hydrops), suggesting that it was most likely an infection and not a placental abruption that killed her. Poor Isla. Poor big, strong, otherwise healthy Isla. Dead, gone, because of some infection.

While I am enraged by the injustice of it all, and of course wondering when and how she contracted an infection and what I could have done differently to prevent it, I am also somewhat relieved to know that it was likely not a placental problem that caused her death. If it was an abruption, after having one I would have a ten fold risk of having another and there is little, if anything, that can be done to prevent it. I also have spent much time concerned that it was an abruption and agonizing over whether I did too much walk or lifting in the days before her death to cause it. And, thanks to reading books about the importance of pre-conception care, I have also spent time fussing over the things I did before I knew I was pregnant with Isla that may have resulted in the growth of an unhealthy placenta.

With the final report we will hopefully learn exactly what type of infection she may have contracted. I am hoping it was something fluke, like Parvovirus B19 (Fifths disease/slap cheek), and not something reoccurring like Group B Strep. I don't think I will ever not feel absolutely terrified to be pregnant again, and well, like all of us babylost bloggers, I now know of five million other ways in which babies can die, but I am hoping if it is some fluke infection that killed her, the rational side of my brain will be able to reason that it likely will not happen again and that one day I may actually have a living, breathing child in my arms. A child who will hopefully grow inside of me for 37 weeks (and not a moment longer because it would be cruel for any doctor to expect me to last the full 40 or longer).

Thirty seven weeks ago tomorrow, January 6th, 2009, I started my period. At the time it was heartbreaking because my period was a painful reminder of the loss of Peanut. Yet thirty seven weeks ago I was also naive and full of unabated hope (well...almost unabated). I'm wiser now. Much wiser. Nevertheless, while my hope has certainly waned, it still exists.

Thirty seven weeks. Not so long. Less than a year. It's strange how 37 weeks can feel like an eternity. I guess that's what happens when you learn that 37 weeks is sometimes 12 weeks longer than a lifetime.


  1. Oh Isla's mommy, my heart breaks for you. That last sentence is so true. If I'd known how short a lifetime could be I would have savoured every second I had with my baby whilst she was alive.

    It reminds me so much of my girl. I also don't like it when people try to diminish the importance of my daughter in my life because she wasn't full-term. She was also big for gestation, just like your Isla. She was viable and I have the proof in her twin sister.

    I'm glad that hope still exists for you. Hang on to it. xo

  2. Catherine - I tell people about Jessica all the time. She made it. She is proof that Georgina and Isla and all the other little ones who are born and die (regardless of which event happens first) before reaching full term are REAL babies, little tiny people with hearts and souls, who are desperately missed and deserve to be mourned and remembered.

  3. Oh infections. How I hate them. And to think my big 8 pounder died of an infection. It is so horribly cruel. And just on Catherine's comment above - I too always talk about Jessica (and Georgina) as living proof those tiny little babies can survive against all the odds. I remember feeling almost happy and relieved when I reached Georgina and Jessica's gestational age with this boy.
    But the weeks inside us count for nothing - the love is still the same. Exactly the same.

  4. Thinking of what happened and what can happen and what are the chances of it happening again are all questions that drive us lost baby moms crazy. There is just no end to this. Yes we all age beyond our years when we lose our children and love them and miss them desperately. I understand your pain. Hugsssss

  5. oh honey, i am so afraid that i hurt you when i mentioned on sally's page how we were both fullterm with our firstborn daughters. i have made a bit of a public apology to you on my most recent entry (didnt mention your name, of course not). you know i didnt mean to hurt you, i am sorry if i brought up memories of the questions from people that hurt you. please read my entry called "this community". we are all in this together, as bereaved mommies. with love -beth

  6. i'm glad you read my entry, and im glad i didnt hurt you. just wanted to be sure. you hit the nail on the head.. "we all have it bad."

  7. me again! do you have facebook? or an email I can reach you at? i just saw hope's mama's blog and your comment again, and found another similarity between the 3 of us.. being 29, turning 30, imagining a much different 30th birthday bash than we once dreamed of. i left a long comment for her about it.

    my email is ... thought maybe we could talk more than just commenting on each other all the time.

  8. This post makes me want to reach through my computer and hug you. Or jump in my car and drive the 8 hours to Toronto and sit with you, crying and talking and sharing photos of our babies, as we both approach our due dates.

    I do keep track of the dates - every Friday I've ticked off another week since her birth - and right now I'm very aware of the fact that I would be 39 weeks pregnant and that this Friday is 12 weeks since she died. The first three paragraphs of this post sound exactly like what has been running through my head lately.

    Sending you lots and lots of hugs.

  9. I'm so sorry. I know how obsessively I checked the calendar when I was pregnant with my first daughter Lorelei. Because I had miscarried so many times before her conception, my doctor had pushed for me to get to twenty-eight weeks. That was my magic number and once I hit that with her I thought I could breathe again. I abrupted with her at thirty-six weeks and we both almost died. When we lost Calvin, a full term twin at thirty seven weeks, my world shattered into a million little pieces. I had done everything to give him the best possible chance in fact I carried two big babies longer than I carried Lorlelei. Thirty-seven weeks exactly my water broke and I agonized over the nine more days I was supposed to carry him until my scheduled section. I don't know if his outcome would have been better had he been nine days bigger but the difference in days to weight will always be a question in my mind. Although my son was term, his heart defect was so severe he had a zero percent chance of survival without surgery. He died anyways. I can so relate to the angst, the horror, the feeling of numb and disbelief that something like this could happen that I wish I could just hug you and cry for my Calvin and your Isla. Life is definitely not easy.