Habits, Pt. 2

(Yesterday’s prompt was about habits with the person being grieved and since I had almost nothing on this topic, I wrote about habits that I had formed since I lost my daughters. Then today’s prompt was “write about habits you have formed since your loss.” So now I have to take it in a different direction.)

It was so easy to assume before that a pregnancy would result in a baby. I knew people who’d had miscarriages, myself included, but I always assumed that after that magical end to the first trimester, that everything was safe. I even knew people with high-risk pregnancies for various reasons, but those always seemed to work out ok also, after perhaps an initial scare when the baby was born.

I never assume that now. I watch people reaching the end of their pregnancy, excited and relieved for it to be over and I think “You don’t yet know if you will come home with a baby.” I know women now who go into the hospital, full term, and come home without a baby. Too many women.

About a month before I lost Nelle, a woman I know lost her son at term. It rattled me, a lot. I went to my 16-week appointment, with zero indication that anything was wrong with my own pregnancy, and asked about the prevalence of this. The doctor cheerfully told me that such occurrences were rare and I had nothing to worry about.

The automatic reaction to a pregnancy announcement is a flood of congratulations, but I still cannot bring myself to be happy. Babies born around the time of my due dates? I barely know their names and my habit is to completely hide any baby photos on social media or have the parents blocked altogether. I still take a long detour in Target rather than walk by the baby aisle. There are friends that I’ve had to quietly remove from my life because I cannot handle their babies.

I did this with my own pregnancy, with Iris. Other than the original announcement, there was no acknowledgment. No preparation. No talking about morning sickness or gaining weight or planning a nursery. Nothing other than constant fear. A friend told me “This baby deserves joy too” and I wept with guilt, but I couldn’t. I had to protect myself.

And as it turns out, I was right. Though the habits that I had formed as a shell of protection did little to offset the pain of another loss. Maybe only in that I never expected a positive outcome from the beginning.

So, out of habit, I continue to be guarded. When I am in a bad rut, I listen to the same repertoire of music over and over, as if breaking from the familiarity of a few songs would even be too much effort. A habit, of clinging to what is known in the next few notes and the next few versus, rather than plunging into unknown melodies.