Almost 11 months

Family day today at Tra.der Joe’s (or at least it so it appeared). Toddlers were pushing mini-carts everywhere, supervised or not by parents carrying newborn siblings in slings. We participated by dodging questions and picking up sunflowers to take to Natan’s grave. I have avoided so much of the public performance that accompanies pregnancy that when I am out I feel somewhat like a fraud. My isolation though, is of course not the only reason it feels fraudulent.

The snow and ice, and Josh’s and my first opportunity in a long, long while to shop together, made the passage of time especially apparent. Despite the turning of seasons, and the obvious changes in my body, I feel at times as if I’ve just walked out of the hospital with an empty womb and empty arms. The bitter cold as we stood over his grave, with sleet beginning to fall as we left, reminded me of our earliest visits to stare in sadness at the muddy bare patch of ground. When we went to Florida a month after the funeral, I felt a palpable tug towards the cemetery, a sort of panic to be putting so many miles between us so soon.

I feel Natan’s absence, and I grieve for him, every day. But not every day is the pain so poignant. Some days, like today at the cemetery, the feelings emerge with more definition. Disbelief, horror, and longing. How could this have happened to us? How can we possibly keep going? And how is it possible that I will never, ever feel him again? Other days the awareness is softer, more of a lingering sadness.

Someone wrote on someone else’s blog that pregnancy after infertility should “just be easy.” I don’t know about infertility, but I imagine someone might imagine substituting loss for it and repeat the sentence. But it can’t be. We say, often, that it’s impossible to be calm in a subsequent pregnancy. We all grieve not only our babies, but that loss of innocence. Our first pregnancy, we and then I – because he was in Moscow – photographed me every week, imagining we would have 36 weeks or so of my physical changes recorded. We have, or had, 6 weeks. I don’t even know if the images still exist. Someone gave me a baby book recently, and I noted the page dedicated to recording your feelings during the pregnancy. I didn’t start it, and won’t until the baby arrives. I don’t want to pretend, or create some sort of false record of optimism and positivity for the past 34 weeks. I also don’t want an entire book with one page filled out. Josh took images of me pregnant one evening only this pregnancy. People may not believe me, but I feel certain I’ll never regret it.

This pregnancy is not a do-over. I do not want anyone to imagine it so. I don’t want anyone to think, if it even happens, that this baby’s safe arrival does anything to mitigate Natan’s death. It has the potential to solve one problem that emerged in the aftermath – would I ever manage a full-term pregnancy and safe delivery. If yes, that will bring me some peace. But it also possibly confirms something else – Natan’s death was not inevitable. I can think of all the qualifications and available comforts in response to that statement, but none of them are enough. The safeguards and treatments have worked.

I know no doctor could have responsibly treated me as a woman at high-risk for pre-term except in retrospect, but it still hurts. I have been, for the past two days, having regular bouts of painful contractions, but they stop after continuing for an hour or two. Some of them feel exactly like milder versions of the bad ones in the hours before my water broke. The bad ones that the nurse on duty in the hospital that night insisted weren’t real because the monitor wasn’t picking them up even though I kept telling her her adjustments to the monitor were measuring my rib cage not my uterus – the ones I had to demand she bring to the attention of the doctor on duty and which she then proceeded to try to monitor insisting I stay on my back and arguing with me as I tried to move to assuage the pain. I have no idea whether things would have ended differently had a different nurse been on duty, one who stressed me out less and offered better and more compassionate care, but it is just one of the many scenarios in my head over my months of pregnancy that I wish could be changed.

I know no one here will think of this pregnancy as a do over, but I am sure for many outside of the blog, it is. They are waiting for the confirmation that this past year was meant to be, and that our misery was simply a blip on the screen.

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12 responses to “Almost 11 months

  1. i hadn’t realized until i reached the end of the post that i had been holding my breath, to keep all the tears and horror in.

    sigh. they can come out now, both all the empathy and sorrow for Natan and you and Josh, and all the awful recognition of things i have seldom said but also wonder, all the anger at that “meant to be” attitude and how uncomfortable it is when people take overmuch comfort in one’s moments of luck and joy, as if they erase or excuse the misery.

    i am sorry, for all of it.

  2. Sweet sweet mama.
    I too was holding my breath through reading this post.

    There are so many emotions felt in your words. I think so very much about the loss of innocence, and I grieve for that to.

    But I do find great strength from you. You are inspiring me to want to be pregnant again.

    What you said about others thinking that subsequent pregnancy is a “do over” is so true. But you know what its simply not the case. I see it as being a piece of healing, it is rediculous that anyone could think about subsequent that way, and it just pisses me off. I guess you might have to just place “those people” into the category of they don’t understand. I don’t know, it makes me so mad when I think about those kinds of people…

    anywho, enough from me on that!

    So, like when is that baby going to come out and play!

    j/k

    Thinking of you always.

  3. What can I say? Our losses will stay with us forever. Forget those “do-over” people. Save your energy for your family – you, Josh, Natan, and the new guy. I wish there was more in the world to comfort us. Having my little one certainly helps, but grief and pain are still here.

  4. I better not come face to face with those who will say or imply either the do-over or the meant to be crap. Cause I just might tear them to pieces, all by my lonesome. Conversely, if you want them torn, just send them my way. Just saying.

    I am sorry Natan is not with you, and I am sorry you are sure to face so many insensitive and stupid comments in the time when you are sure to be more than a little fragile. I don’t know why people expect the subsequent live delivery to heal the pain of loss. It seems to me it is only likely to get bigger, at least temporarily, as you come face to face with all the many things, tiny and huge, that you didn’t get to experience 11 months ago.

  5. Please, please, Julia, don’t tear me to pieces.

    But while, of course, I don’t see it that way for any of you, more and more I’m feeling that my own loss *was* meant to be, that that’s what was supposed to happen and that nothing could have — or even should have — prevented it.

    And, though, of course, I may never get the chance to find out, I imagine that for me (not for any of you) that any subsequent pregnancy would be a do-over, a chance to rerun the film, with, I hope, a different ending.

    But, that’s just me and, as we all know, I delight in feeling the opposite of what everyone else feels.

  6. While I don’t feel the same as you, Niobe, I definitely understand feeling like some conditions only apply to me, and not to anyone else.

  7. Note to self: proofread.
    Note to self, the second: be clear, dammit.

    Sorry Niobe and everyone else– I completely didn’t mean my intermittent rage to be undirected and all-encompassing. It is in fact never ever directed at a fellow bereaved parent, no matter how they feel for themselves. It is saved, practically exclusively, for the non-bereaved who heap their undisputed wisdom of how bereaved parents should feel ™, and especially for those who refuse to accept that it is possible to feel otherwise, and even more especially for those who heap scorn on the parents for having feelings that do not confirm to the specified guidelines ™.

  8. You know, I realized while reading this that there’s a tiny piece of me that does not want to do it again for the simple (and maybe totally irrational) reason that I don’t want to obliterate the memory of my daughter for anyone else. It certainly wouldn’t for me, and I have no way of judging what anyone else would think, but the fear of family exhaling and thinking/saying “phew! Now we can put THAT mess behind us,” is really disturbing. Not a good reason NOT to get pregnant again (because I have much beter ones), but I’m just sayiing, it’s there. I’m also so sorry that what should be exciting is wraught with memory and fear. I imagine it would be for me too. I look forward to your journey, the good and the wistful. Let us know how the appt. goes.

  9. As I look at Myles, I am struck by the “meant to be” mentality. He is so beautiful and he fills my heart with so much love. And if Alex and/or Travis had lived, he wouldn’t be here. So maybe it was meant to be. And maybe there is healing in bringing a new little life into your world. But that’s not to say it doesn’t make me immeasurably sad as well. Meant to be will never fix the sadness that comes from what we lost…what THEY lost. And so, I try to take happiness where it is to be found…sitting side by side with sadness…and remember that no matter what other people think, I know the truth of what this life is like.

  10. B- I am so sorry Natan isn’t here. The horror and sadness of that reality is most definitely breathtaking.

    My personal perspective follows:

    There is a difference between “meant to be” and allowing meaning and healing to come into your life after the fact, and perhaps because of a significant loss. Loss is not redeemed in this way by being erased, or replaced. It is redeemed because we refuse to allow sorrow, and tragedy, and hopelessness, and despair to have the final word. The meaning you bring to Natan’s life, by the way you live yours, by the ways you mourn his, by the ways you will celebrate this new life, does not diminish the poignancy of his absence. But I do think it can bring meaning (not a message, not a hidden truth) to his short life.

    I am thinking of you and checking in all the time.

  11. Perhaps you two wouldn’t, but really, Lori and Catherine I see your comments as having very similar meanings. I absolutely think there must be healing in bringing another new life into the world. I know that for all my complaining, this pregnancy is also healing me. It’s also helping me to mourn, as I already have a poignant sense of what I missed with Natan. To be sort of flippant, right now I’m thinking of this feeling of, “We’re ready already, let’s get moving” and “OMG, is this going to happen before I run out of wearable pants?” as something I absolutely missed out on with Natan.

  12. Oh I completely agree that Catherine and I are trying to convey something very similar. I didn’t intend my comment to counter Catherine, but to expand on her very lovely and valid perspective. I should have clarified that.

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