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.
Powered by ScribeFire.