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Jul 19 / Caro

V Day: On Not Celebrating

I’m 24 weeks pregnant today. Otherwise know as “Viable Day”. Which simply put means that if the baby was born now, they would have a chance at survival and attempts could be made to revive or keep it alive. On parenting websites and forums, you’ll always find lots of people celebrating reaching V Day. It is a milestone but it’s one that I just can’t celebrate.

It’s not about pessimism or negativity. It’s being realistic. Although the baby may have a chance at survival if born at 24 weeks, it’s only a small chance. Many, many babies born at this gestation don’t survive. Others survive but with difficulties that will last them their lifetime. The birth of the baby at this stage is not a guarantee that you’ll be able to take them home. And even if you do, it will only be after weeks of intensive care, quite unlike the happy bonding that I dream of and hope for once the birth is over. In short, I’d be terrified if I were to go in to labour today, so I just can’t feel a particular sense of celebration about it. We’re not anywhere near out of the woods yet.

In fact, reaching 24 weeks does not guarantee no further problems in pregnancy itself. It’s a massive taboo, but intra-uterine death and still birth happen. They happen without warning to real women who’ve done nothing wrong. I can’t pretend to imagine what that experience must actually be like, but there can be no question that it must be a most horrific thing to go through. I can’t shift from the back of my head the fact that type 1 diabetes causes an increase in the risk of still birth. Being 24 weeks pregnant won’t stop it from happening. Nor is there any reduction in the risks of serious conditions like pre-eclampsia.

And finally, even if we reach full term, and have the baby in our arms, we’re still not guaranteed that nothing can go wrong. Modern antenatal assessments are great, but they can’t detect every problem.

I don’t mean to dwell of the negatives and ‘what ifs’ but now that I’m about to become a parent, I don’t think that I’ll ever fully relax. I’ll always worry about my child’s health, safety and happiness. Of course there will be plenty of celebrations in parenthood, but 24 weeks of pregnancy is certainly no time for me to start relaxing or celebrating.

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