Today’s prompt had me reflecting on yesterday, pulling out a phrase and diving into it more, revealing more of the story.
The future isn’t what I imagined it would be.
Even though I reflect openly about where my grief has been and where I am in the present, I write very little about the future. It is painful. It is uncertain. It is uncomfortable.
This morning I did something else that made me uncomfortable. In my Bikram yoga class, I shed my tank top and completed the class only in my sports bra. Lots of women do this, since the heat is so extreme. But I have always been hesitant to bare myself in this way. My stomach shows all of the signs of previous pregnancies. The stretch marks are a road map of the journeys I have been on. For the first few minutes, standing there in my pink sports bra, I was self-conscious and unbalanced. Eventually I realized that no one was looking at me: they were all focused on themselves.
So now I will do another thing that will make me uncomfortable and self-conscious today, and look into the future.
A few people have outright asked what the future looks like for us. Aloud, I answer with little hesitation, so I am not sure why writing it is so hard. Maybe because capturing the words makes it more permanent. Maybe it is knowing that someday I can look back, reread, either with joy or further grief.
As a couple, we are on the same page with knowing that we will make one more attempt at a third child. Medically, we were told to wait at least six months. Since the last two pregnancies were back-to-back losses, the specialist wants to eliminate that as a variable by having us wait.
With no real answers as to why I had two second-trimester losses, after two uneventful pregnancies, a third attempt feels like Russian roulette. Third time is a charm. Or bad things happen in threes. Two live children and two dead children, a 50/50 chance.
Though I know that my body needs a rest after being pregnant for much of the past ten months, being forced to wait is an additional insult. It is lengthening the total time I am spending in a state of anxiety and anticipation. And dangling me in a holding pattern of helplessness.
I would approach a third pregnancy (or fifth, as it were) with little hope of a positive outcome. My body, the incubator. It is the only way I can protect myself, probably the only way I can cope. My pregnancy with Iris was almost unbearable in its mixture of fear and hope. Reducing hope in the equation would be my survival mechanism.
When I speak that strategy out loud, people have said, with incredulity “But how can you do that – how could you go through that?” Because I have to try. Otherwise I will always wonder “What if?” But in my mind, that would be it. A third loss would mean that a third child is not in the cards for us. I have to make peace with that.
That’s how I feel today. Six months from now, who knows. If I can climb out of this feeling of being underwater, where I cannot see or hear anything clearly, maybe I can put one foot in front of the other tomorrow.
This Easter weekend has crept up in an unassuming way. It hit me suddenly, from the side. Thanksgiving, I had just found out that I was pregnant again. Christmas was joyful in announcing my pregnancy. My due date with Nelle passed, as did our 10-year wedding anniversary, with a focus on making it through the first trimester. February 13 – Iris was born. February 14 – Valentine’s Day – I didn’t even recognize that holiday. Now we are upon an actual holiday where I must pay attention. The only coping for the weekend comes in the form of activities to keep my mind occupied: the zoo, dinner with friends, brunch, play dates. I float through all of these events, empty.