That One Night

The kids have been in Arizona since Tuesday. At the time we planned for my parents to take them for a few days, it seemed like it would be a welcomed reprieve: late in pregnancy, days without early-morning wake-up calls, no swimming lessons or taekwondo, quiet evenings. Since they left mid-morning on the 4th of July, it gave me the rest of the day to myself.

It was then that I started to become unbalanced by the quiet. I lay in bed, hoping to sleep, but instead I started to shake. No interruptions allowed me to become lost in my “what-if” scenarios.  It felt like a ghost of the days after losing Nelle and Iris, when I could not even get out of bed. I realized that the kids have kept me tethered, in their never-ending demands for attention. The moments in which I can focus solely on my anxiety are only in between a myriad of activity. Without them, it was too much on “me.”

Ger slept, and I am glad that he has been able to sleep. I was finally able to crash and sleep soundly one night, only to be deeply disturbed by a dream. In it, the baby failed a non-stress test and I was being sent to the hospital immediately for delivery. I called Ger and his phone kept ringing; I couldn’t get through. I woke in a quicksand panic of feeling alone.

We had planned a single night getaway to downtown Chicago since no kids are around. We never did any kind of “babymoon” before Theo or Quentin arrived, but this time we had the opportunity so we took it. Boutique hotel, nice dinner. An evening of recognizing the good things in our lives: Ger’s upcoming birthday next week, selling our condo, and the end of this pregnancy. The restaurant even brought a cake with a candle for Ger’s birthday, making it feel like even more of a celebration.

While we were eating, I pointed out to Ger that pregnancy is 280 days, total. I have 31 days left, which is more than 10%. When looking at it that way, it still feels like a lot. And my pregnancy will be shortened by 2 weeks! He pointed out that we are counting down in days though, not weeks. Every day means chiseling away at what is left.

As we drove home this morning, I became distracted by not feeling much movement. All of the previous day’s celebration and normalcy melted away into my fear. I didn’t say anything to Ger though; there would be no point until I could get home and lie quietly and focus on kick counts. Of course, everything was fine once I was able to complete that exercise.

Thankful for the night away, a night to devote to just us. Now back to the endless attention to the remaining days of pregnancy.

The Surrounding Activity

Our last Fourth of July family croquet tournament was two years ago (a bi-annual event). I was about twelve weeks pregnant with Nelle. She should be a toddler running around this year. Or Iris would be almost a year old. Instead, I attend the event, 33 weeks pregnant with Baby Three. A large gathering from two different sides of the family. Many I only see once every two years, at this event. In the days leading up, I wonder. Will they remember that I was pregnant? Do they know? Will they say something? Continue reading

Revenge Against Circumstance

Writing is a kind of revenge against circumstance too: bad luck, loss, pain. If you make something out of it, then you’ve no longer been bested by these events. -Louise Gluck

Back in April of 2016, after completing my grief writing course, I came up with a series of prompts to help me continue.  I have been writing from those prompts ever since; mostly publicly, but privately as well. I started with over 200 prompts from various sources: a book of random writing prompts that I made “fit” into my context, quotes I liked, passages from books. I added when I found something new to inspire words. The result has been over 120 blog posts that I have published, and even more that I have kept to myself.

I’m now down to about 40. With under 90 days to go in this pregnancy, I’m determined to complete the remaining prompts.  It feels like closing a chapter, a definitive plan and effort.  One more item to check off the list. I looked at the prompts and certain events between now and August and already have some of the prompts lined up.  That tells me what I have left to work with.

After that, I have another series of a hundred new prompts, with a decidedly more hopeful undertone. I hope to be writing from an entirely new experience of handling a baby after loss. I know women who have had their rainbow babies and there is a different type of struggle that comes from holding the baby in your arms while remembering the baby that was lost. I am pre-emptively preparing myself to work through that process.

I fully acknowledge that re-reading what I’ve written will be bitterly painful if we lose this baby too.

I see the world differently than Before, through a lens of understanding loss, through living loss. The deeper compassion, gentleness, concern, and even beauty have been born from the pain. Through the ages, artists have been able to harness their pain and drive it into something beautiful. And so I write, to give voice to the experience rather than scream in silence. If suffering must exist, then from it I am determined to emerge.

What Could Go Right

Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being positive about what could go right.

Easier said than done.

Ger finally told me that he feels positive about the outcome of this pregnancy.  27 weeks, pretty good place to be.  I asked him if he thinks I will make it all the way to full term (because I don’t think I will) and he said yes, he does.

We seem to be clinging to each other more than ever as we head into these remaining 12 weeks.  More time spent talking, even if it isn’t about anything related to pregnancy or what has happened over the past few years.  More time spent being kind to each other.  Time and effort spent on other people was often a daunting task when I was often trying (and failing) to hold myself together, plus with an added task of taking care of the kids.  We could support each other in those heavy, dark, obvious moments but on a daily basis it was merely survival.  Now, breathing more easily, it feels like preparation: strengthening ourselves to become parents of a newborn again.  Or maybe strengthening ourselves in case we face another loss.  I always have to consider both outcomes; I’m incapable of not thinking that way.

After we tuck the kids in, we have been spending time just sitting and talking.  This was a habit we had many, many years ago, pre-kids.  Even when we had newborns, we would still sit and talk, with the baby between us on our bed, trying hard to keep that baby awake until 9:00 pm or 10:00 pm in hopes that would lend itself to a better stretch of sleep.  We fell away from that habit as the kids grew older and evenings (for me) turned into Bath and Netflix.  The other night, we talked from 7:30 until 8:30, at which point I said “Bedtime.”  He protested, asking for another 30 minutes together, to which I replied “Sorry, but from 7:30 – 9:30 is the only time I get to myself all day.  I gave you an hour.  Now I need an hour to myself to unwind.”  I felt a little guilty at telling him to go elsewhere and find something else to do (he goes to bed much later than me), but at the same time I need to take care of myself as much as I take care of my marriage and I need some time alone to decompress, write, or watch Netflix.

Even when we talk about the baby, I have noticed that we never say the name out loud.  With Theo and Quentin, we began calling them by their names as soon as we knew the gender and had finalized their names.  It made their presence real.  I remember about two weeks before my due date, Ger wanted to change Theo’s middle name to something else, and I said “We can’t.  That’s his name; we can’t change his name!”  This time, we have not yet formed that attachment of name to baby; still not making that connection of bringing a baby home.  I can now picture going into labor, going to the hospital, delivering via c-section.  Those events play out in my head.  But I still cannot picture bringing the baby home.

The other day, Quentin brought home a project from school: three flowers, formed from pieces of construction paper.  He told me that the flowers are “You, Daddy, and the BABY!”  He sees a new addition, so easily.

What I Enjoy

I had a dream about yoga the other night.

I pulled up to my studio. The owner was working the counter and I breezed past her. I entered the hot room with it’s delicious 105 degrees, and then I remembered. I couldn’t be there. I was pregnant.

I tried to make a quick exit, but the owner saw me. “Are you leaving?” She asked, surprised. “Yes,” I replied. “Well, I’m pregnant so I can’t do hot yoga.” She was on the brink of congratulating me when I added “You know I lost two babies. I have two, and I lost two. So this one… we’ll see.” I had only briefly mentioned my losses to her, shortly after I started yoga. She had praised my dedication in those early days, coming to the studio three or four days a week. I tearfully told her that I’d recently had two pregnancy losses and had a lot of self-loathing toward my body and was trying to punish myself. She awkwardly did not know how to respond.

She asked me when I was due and I replied “August 15th. So I should probably be back in October. If I’m back sooner than that, you’ll know it did not end well.” I got into my car and pulled away quickly.

Then I woke up.

I miss hot yoga, so much. I miss the intensity and the focus that the class required. I miss the 90 minutes of self-awareness and escape.

It’s 2:30 am and I am wide awake. The muscles in my legs are aching and cramping and my body feels tight. Anxious today, I paced around my living room. A walk would have been better, but the weather did not cooperate and it was raining. If only I could do my hot yoga. If only, if only.