My doctor has been back this afternoon. In his quiet way, he devastates me again. Yes, the blood pressure is down, yes the new medication seems to be working. But they need to wait until Saturday to do more blood tests. (Another two days at least in this bloody awful hospital gown).
Everything is normal, he explains, but the uric acid is a problem. It is far too high for my stage of gestation. He says this means the placenta is not working properly. The baby seems fine – all her traces from the foetal heart monitor are good – but if that figure does not come down, she must be delivered. 10 weeks in ICU, he says, his lilting intonation somehow out of character with the gravity of the information he is imparting.
I pause to take this in. If my daughter is born now, at around 1,2 kg and the size of a head of cabbage (according to the app on my phone), she has a 96% chance of survival. But she also has a good chance of learning difficulties and other health problems. She may catch up eventually, but it will be hard for her. I will need to buy a good breast pump because she will not be able to suckle, not for a while. And it will take a while for my milk to arrive if she emerges so far ahead of schedule.
So, that’s that then.
The realisation arrives suddenly and in squalls, passing in curtains of tears before drying up as if nothing had happened. For hours it has followed the same pattern: staggered breaths, streaming nose, silent retching like a politely puking cat. I imagine my emotional state over the day stretched out like the great sweep of a Free State skyline: a dark patch here, a hint of blue there, sky shinning down in bands of light like the design on a brick of margarine. When I was a child, I used to imagine those rays were God.
For now, I’m hooked up again to the foetal heart rate monitor. The sounds of a galloping horse echo through the room. Around and around the track the hooves thud thud thud, tracing time as they go.
Another hurdle for us to leap now.