Today Heather and I have our 25 week check-up where, in addition to finding out how Binky is doing, I want to ask Dr. Risky about back pain Heather has had for the last week. It’s very intense – to the point where she has been incapacitated in bed all day – and is centered in her right shoulder, neck and upper back. We called the nurse practitioner who didn’t seem too concerned. Still, I’m interested in finding out what the good doc thinks. Heather shouldn’t be in so much pain without it abating for over a week.
Shoulder pain aside, this pregnancy has gone well. Getting this far without any of the complications of Maddie’s pregnancy is a very bittersweet thing. On one hand I am ecstatic for Binky. On the other hand, every healthy landmark we pass only makes it harder to comprehend what happened to Maddie. How can one pregnancy go so wrong when another can go so right?
Early on in this pregnancy Heather and I downloaded a pregnancy app for our phones. It’s a great thing…it keeps track of exactly how far along you are (62.9% finished as of this writing), shows you in utero photos of babies at the same stage as your baby, and, at the start of each week, tells you vital information about the baby’s development. Initially this information included things like: “this week your baby’s face starts to develop its features.” At week twenty-three, however, it added a new bit of information – the survival rate for babies born that week. (10-20% for week twenty-three babies.) As weird as this may sound, seeing the survival rate mentioned was encouraging in a twisted sort of way. It told me that, if something was to go wrong with this pregnancy too, and Binky had to come early, at least she would have a shot. At week twenty-four the chances for survival improved to 60%, and this week the odds shot all the way up to 70%. Seeing the number jump up each week felt good, but only when I thought about it in the context of Binky. When I thought about it in the context of Maddie, it made my heart sink.
The other day I couldn’t help myself and flipped forward through the information to see what it says about the survival rate for babies born at week twenty-nine (Maddie was born at 28 weeks six days).
It read: “The survival rate of babies born at 29 weeks is ninety percent.”
Ninety percent. Those are good odds. Anyone would be elated, for example, if they were told they had a 90% chance of having their dreams come true.
It didn’t say so in the app, but I was able to dig up statistics that said the survival rate for week twenty-nine babies improves well past 90% once a baby lives more than twenty-four hours. If he or she lives to see his or her first birthday, well, statistics only promise sunny days ahead.
Statistics are a funny thing though. They don’t matter much to the person holding the winning lotto number, and they don’t matter much to the person thousands of feet in the air on a plane suffering from mechanical failure. Despite this, I will smile for Binky as her survival rate statistics improve with each passing week.
For Maddie, I will cry.