Hope and Stuff

I’ve written about how I’m finally giving myself some space to hope with this baby. I always follow it with a qualifier though. But there are practical concerns to be considered. We have a major conference we have to be at in early January that’s 500 miles away. I have to make arrangements to be there, even though it’s only 2.5 weeks after my due date. If I’m not there, well, I probably have to push my entrance into the job market off a year – many places do their preliminary interviews at this meeting. But, in case all the pieces fall into place perfectly or crash disastrously, we have to make reservations and such. And, as remote as it seems, I have to make those plans with a baby in mind.

Thank you baby, for kicking me just now because I was worried about talking about planning. That’s the thing. Anytime I write/talk/think about this baby, I wonder if it’s already over. And Natan didn’t die inside my womb. I still worry, though, that this baby will.

Last night we had some people over for a bbq preceding a bachelor party for a friend. Most of the guests were very much more his friends than ours, so that I’m not sure who among them knows our history. One guy, a nice guy who moved away a few years ago, was asking me about my pregnancy. I was probably coming across as the least enthusiastic pregnant woman ever, but the whole premise makes me anxious. I want to be able to talk excitedly, though, I really do. And sometimes, alone with Josh, I can. Or I think I did alright when Kate was here a couple of weeks ago.

I know myself, my mind, my moods fairly well. I sense that it might not be good for me to not hope or think about this baby as if he’s really coming until he actually does. I don’t want to be told that, however, and certainly not by a person who hasn’t felt this devastation. Because it’s certainly not easy, not a matter of simply deciding.

Small things. I’m crocheting a baby blanket and it’s turning out well. For someone with as poor fine motor skils as myself, that’s really something. For someone who’s not craft inclined, that’s something. But it’s a bigger effort than simply purchasing something already made and I wanted to do that. Although I’m not fooling myself into thinking I’m not using some sort of consumer-model optimism here – I didn’t exactly grow the yarn from cotton seed or fashion the crochet hook out of sticks. I hope the baby will like it better than some machine-woven cloth, but we’ll see. In any case, it’s taking time, it seems like a maternal task, and I’m trying very hard not to think morbid thoughts about it.

Julia’s written about A’s room. Niobe about her twins’ room. Monica about making Jimmy’s room ready for Critter. And Meg about not having a room at all. We have a tiny apartment. We were/are just going to pack some stuff away, get rid of a few bookshelves and move the baby in. I cannot stand to be asked about it. I think, though, that that’s less about the “hope” feature than the fact that I’ve already been through that conversation. We’re already supposed to be even more crowded in here.

I complain a lot, I know, about the relentlessness of this journey. I know I chose to not prevent another pregnancy for longer than two months after losing Natan. On the one hand, it’s been great to get certain steps over sooner (would I conceive easily again? would I miscarry? how would I handle the cerclage? the progesterone shots? the weeks where I entered/suffered through PTL?). It’s very much in my personality to just keep on trying, over and over again, until things turn out better. But I’m not reckless.

Emotionally it’s incredibly difficult. And I hope I’m not scaring anyone off of a subsequent pregnancy with my neurosis. But practically there are reasons we did it this way. First, jobs. We wanted the baby to be born early enough to be able to be in daycare by the time we started them. Second, insurance. Not knowing if we’ll get those jobs and knowing our really excellent, free insurance will run out in August ’08, we wanted to get through a pregnancy at least, and hopefully through the earliest pediatric appointments while still on it. Third, proximity. My doctor knows the doctors from the hospital from last time very well, and thus fairly easily accepted their prognosis – other doctors may have wanted to go with the “fluke” diagnosis and not so easily acquiesced to the cerclage and progesterone.

Physically, it’s incredible. I went into my first pregnancy an exceptionally healthy 29 year old. Now I’m 30 years old and my body feels like a mess. I’m still healthier, I’m sure, than many pregnant women. Weight, blood pressure, etc., was still well within the normal spectrum for average. So that helped me decide it was okay. But my left hip is seriously aching, the limp is obvious, and my right knee is for some reason really sore. Lord knows what my overburdened abdomen will look like. I don’t feel very young anymore. Some women would have waited until they were in perfect pre-baby shape again, or followed the strictest recommendations of waiting nine months. But Dr. M. said it was actually just the most important to wait a few cycles to assess whether they’d returned to normal. And thank goodness, mine did. And it’s worth it to me. Even now, before I know the ending, I know I would rather be this mess than to have not tried at all. Again, that’s also something I don’t want to hear from someone who hasn’t been here.

So, I’m wondering now, how is this post about hope? I’ve been complaining through a lot of it. But I must have some because I’m certainly not prone to suffering needlessly. Somewhere inside me, I must really believe this will work out. Partly, it’s brainless optimism. Partly, it’s bitter naivety – defiance even. The universe will not do this to me again. Hell if it won’t though – I know that. Too many women I’ve met online have suffered more than once. And I’m still affected by the two little gravestones near Natan’s. Niobe posted recently about feeling that futility of wondering whether a glass is half empty or half full – she just sees that the whole glass shatters too easily. I flippantly commented that I wouldn’t consider the glass at all. But on reflection, that’s true. I refuse to be convinced one way or the other because it won’t make a difference for the outcome. For the moment, I’m just going to push ahead. I’m planning for this baby to come home, somewhat, simply because it doesn’t make sense to plan otherwise.

And my silly little crocheted blanket helps me make a practice of that.


A diversion.

Aren’t you sorry you missed this? From the Chicago American, December 19, 1835

A cheese was exhibited in Troy, N.Y. a few weeks since weighing 1400 pounds.”

The funniest part is, I felt the need to copy that announcement into my notes over a year ago.

12 responses to “Hope and Stuff

  1. You know, this post speaks to the power of a title. I read the title and read the post all the way until you asked,”what does this post have to do with hope?”. But for some reason, maybe the title, I felt like you were clinging to some hope. I think some days you have to be defiant. Some days I challenge fate, God, whoever is in charge and tell them they can’t possible deal me the same cards. Even though they can, I just have this feeling they won’t. I’m so impressed by the baby blanket you are making. I’m not sure why, but I know that he will know how much effort and love you put into it. I agree, you have to plan as if it is going to happen. Here’s to the remaining days going by quickly.

  2. i think there is a form of hope in defiance, in looking with honest frustration at all the circumstances surrounding you and trying to make sense of them and not crawling into a hole and pretending everything is either horrors or sunbeams.

    you are in the midst of a long, painful limbo…needing to make plans without knowing how the most important piece will actually fall into place, or when. i think even writing of the ways this is difficult, this planning, this trying to have life come together, is hopeful…just not traditionally so. 🙂

    but then, i think you and i may be similar. we waited about four months after Finn died, and then just kept going, because for all the pain of the limbo and the waiting, getting some pieces of the things we feared out of the way was better. i don’t know if i’d have healed at all, wondering about them. the new pregnancy was, in a sense, a way of coping with my grief…but it also complicated things. and left some of the grief for later…which was okay. i was ready for it, when it came.

    but hoping and grieving at once and waiting agonizingly, yep, they make a rough combo.

    i hold you in the light, friend.

  3. I like this post because I see you as having a realistic hope based on evidence from the past, and where you are currently…it all adds up to be hopeful. When I think of everything that has to happen in order for any of us to be here, I am amazed any of us made or for that matter, are normal.

  4. make that “any of us made it…” I suppose on any given day, the “normal” part could be argued! I am hopeful for you!!!

  5. I have that same problem with hope. Sometimes, I can truly feel like this baby will be here with us in a few months. Then I remember with fear that I had those same feelings with Elijah, before everything went wrong. We have a bit more baby stuff than last time and have become more prepared, but it feels more like “pushing forward” rather than hope. What else is there for us to do at this point?

  6. “I sense that it might not be good for me to not hope or think about this baby as if he’s really coming until he actually does. I don’t want to be told that, however, and certainly not by a person who hasn’t felt this devastation. Because it’s certainly not easy, not a matter of simply deciding.”

    I think for me, it wasn’t always about hope so much as it was about simply getting through the day. And then one more. And then another.

    I quoted the passage above because it struck such a cord for me. If I may share a bit of my experience …. When I conceived twins after miscarrying five times I not only couldn’t believe it, I also couldn’t feel hopeful. It was an intellectual and emotional impossibility. When one of the twins died midway through the pregnancy, I just plain went numb until River was born. I have to believe that protecting myself, emotionally, was an acceptable thing to do. I then proceeded to walk through River’s entire first year in a fog of devastation and bitterness. *This is not to say that I did not love her* However. Aside from the guilt I feel over that (i.e. not being as emotionally present as perhaps she needed etc), I think there are times when we simply cannot be as emotionally present and positive as we would like. And that’s OK. Death causes us to turn a corner: we can’t go back to being blithe about pregnancies and babyhood. (I wrote about this not so long ago — the link is in my sidebar, as “grieving.”).

    I guess my rambly and perhaps inarticulate point is, go easy on yourself: the hope and the joy will come, in time. And in all honesty, you don’t sound as if you are complaining; you’re working through some grievously difficult emotions and experiences.

  7. I also don’t see you as complaining. Thinking, working, worrying, planning, grieving, living–all of this and more, but not so much with complaining.

    We followed dr’s orders to wait for a while, and the last bit of the waiting was hard. Truthfully, though, trying earlier with the way my health was would’ve been a supremely bad idea. Still, it feels like time was wasted, like I am way behind. Stupid, I know, but it’s still there. And now my new limbo. Fun never stops. I think, though, that whatever way we go about things has its own challenges. Isn’t that always the way it works?

  8. I often say that we pursued conceiving and carrying my subsequent pregnancy with blinders on, and as though in a long, dark tunnel. We didn’t know what else to do but to press onward toward that little sliver of light we saw way off in the distance. One foot in front of the other… daring to hope.

    You are in my thoughts.

  9. Thanks all. Bon, I think we are similar. I’d have spent every moment of “not trying” thinking only about “trying.” And been a basket-case of anticipatory worry. I do feel that my pregnancy, as stressful as it is, is part of my healing.

    Beth, I hadn’t read the “grieving” post on your blog, but now I have. I am so sorry about your losses. But I’m so moved by the way you manage to live your life fully and yet still remember. Like with Lori, and Bon, and Aurelia, I really appreciate reading about how you coped with subsequent pregnancies and now with life in general after loss.

    Julia, Thank you. I feel like crap for talking at all about pregnancy’s discomforts, because it’s hard to reconcile it with my overwhelming thankfulness that I’m pregnant at all. Every step of it sucks. But I so so hope you can get this first sucky step over soon. Your period of limbo is going on way too long.

  10. I feel so much of what you have written here and am mulling around a lot of the same thoughts/concerns. I’m trying to figure out how to have a little hope, when I haven’t felt hope in such a long time. And I feel badly sometimes–because I figure I should just be grateful to be pregnant at all.

    I had a different experience after the loss of my twins (2 years ago). I had 2 miscarriages and then was unable to get pregnant for about a year. I can say that for me, that was one of the most awful aspects of all of this. I just wanted to not be frozen in time. I think it would have helped with the healing to have a pregnancy and the chance for a live baby. Infertility is a truly horrific thing (of course, not worse than losing a baby), but it did make me feel really bad. In my case, this happened after being able to get pregnant relatively easily in the past, so I had to deal with doctors saying “Well of course you’ll get pregnant again soon”. My infertility has never been explained, but it was a very, very difficult year. That being said, I did get pregnant this time, after really taking the time to try and deal with my losses (with therapists and on my own). So there may be something to that too? I feel like I have now dealt with a lot of it, so I have less to deal with right now. I don’t know which way is better, but I do know that not having the choice (i.e. my body just did not cooperate!) was really hard. I just felt like more of a failure–you know, my body failed my babies and now it won’t even do it’s basic job of conceiving anymore.

    I don’t think you are complaining about your situation. It seems like you are working through your feelings and fears. And I like reading that you are able to have a little hope. It gives me hope! I think the blanket is a great idea–I think I should try something like that too.

    All I can say is that I am so grateful to be able to read your words and see how you are trying to figure things out. This doesn’t come wrapped in a pretty parcel for any of us, but if we get what we want at the end, that’s all that matters. And I like your plan for the take home baby. Keep hoping for that and maybe it might rub off a little on me too?

  11. Good lord Meg the universe is cruel.

    Loss makes a hell of a mess out of our body images. I think that’s why I have a knee jerk reaction to statements from women who “love” pregnancy & their pregnant bodies. That’s an experience I feel pretty damn certain I have lost forever.

    I definitely recommend the blanket approach. It really seems to represent my slowly growing hope. It’s not even half done, and already I’m thinking how will I occupy myself when it’s done? We’ll see if I’ve made it to the point where I can do booties and a hat.

  12. You wrote: Last night we had some people over for a bbq preceding a bachelor party for a friend.

    I couldn’t help reading that as “we had some people over for a *blog* preceding….” No wonder I was confused.

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