After losing Genevieve, my second baby, to stillbirth, I tried to prepare myself for every possibility when I was pregnant with my third. I packed my hospital bag when I was 32 weeks pregnant. I knew that even a slow kick count could land me in the hospital.
With Genevieve, my amniotic fluid levels had been high – a sign of trouble – and my doctors monitored me closely this time. I had lost my daughter at 36 weeks and one day into my pregnancy, and I hoped that my doctors would find some reason to deliver this new baby before that point. They did not.
An ultrasound during my 36th week showed that my amniotic fluid was again too high. The perinatologist left the room to call my OB. I sat on the ultrasound table, a towel draped across my gooey belly, and waited, thinking back to the day two years before when an ultrasound showed a motionless heart. I kept reminding myself that this was different. When my doctor returned, he sent me to the hospital for my third c-section.
The fetal monitor that had seemed a formality with my first pregnancy now felt crucial. I froze each time the baby moved and the heartbeat was lost. Even as the surgery began, I didn't believe I would have a live baby. I asked my husband to hold my hand.
When the doctor announced that the baby was out, I held my breath. Where was the cry? I heard the slightest mew. And then I heard a wail from baby Henry.
He was hooked up to oxygen for a few minutes while the nurses checked him and I cried. He weighed a surprising 7 pounds, 15 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long. A nurse brought Henry to me. I had feared that I would not bond with my son, but he looked instantly familiar, like an old friend.
When acquaintances ask how I'm adjusting, I tell them that I'm doing great. Even when I'm stuck in traffic, with Henry screaming from the backseat, and my 4-year-old trying to sing over the screaming, I give thanks for the clamor. Endings aren't always this sweet.