This is a picture of the bracelet I have been wearing every day in 2012, in the hopes that its auspicious message would sink in, beyond my skin, to my soul.
This January, when I found out that I was indeed pregnant with our third child, I experienced a split-second of pure, undiluted joy.
The next moment, both my hands found themselves clutching my abdomen – and I’m pretty sure the words came out aloud: “Please be okay in there, please be okay in there, please be okay in there.”
For the first several weeks of pregnancy, it was hard to recapture that initial exhilaration. That is to say, I couldn’t. My heart would make a move to get excited, and my brain (or something) would step up and say “STOP.” I wasn’t suffering from stomach-knotting anxiety, as I’d feared, but I was finding myself in a strangely numb state – deepened, of course, by that first-trimester exhaustion that makes you feel like a marionette with its strings cut.
It’s pathetic, but true: having a stillborn baby feels like betrayal. You go along, assuming everything is fine – even if there are warning signs – and then there comes the moment when you realize your trust was misplaced. And, as horrible as it sounds, you feel like a sucker. You can’t believe you were so foolish and complacent.
I know, I know. It’s an awful comparison. And silly, too. An unborn baby cannot be subject to trust – nor suspicion. It is innocent, no matter what happens.
And I know I wasn’t actually a chump for presuming Sebastian would be born alive. It’s just that now, if I’m about to mention that I’ll be on maternity leave next year, I’m acutely aware of how that didn’t pan out the last time I said it. Or how we told E he would have a baby brother… but we never brought one home to him; he never even met “Sebastogen”. I know that I can’t guarantee any of those things, so I feel not-quite-honest saying them.
You can understand why we only told a few people at first, gradually. (And then there were a couple of friends who intuited or guessed, or simply asked “How’s the baby-making going?”, since we’d talked with some about trying again.)
Fortunately, I’ve discovered that telling people is a great antidote to the numbness, because they are all delighted. They know all about Sebastian, but their instincts for optimism are still intact, and the smiles help a lot. (Often, the expressions also contain a flicker of sympathy – a momentary acknowledgement that this time around, it’s more complicated. I really appreciate this, too.) So far, I’ve been better able to piggyback on the excitement of other people than to fabricate my own.
For example, my bellydancer friends were some of the first to know, since I had to officially bow out of a certain choreography – one that consists almost entirely of abdominal/hip twisting. We’d discussed this possibility, so when they realized what I was actually saying, they screeched and piled on me in an enormous group hug. It’s impossible to be numb in the face of (or buried under) that kind of elation.
So, tentatively, we are relaxing a bit. I sometimes feel almost like a normal pregnant woman.
I know there will be times when the worry will win. Like, right around 34.5 weeks, I’m going to be a basket case.
But for now, we have things to be glad about. My first midwife appointment was a few weeks ago, and it was just good. All the staff I saw – including the office assistant – made me feel so welcome, like they were truly happy to see me back. Also, they know how to emphasize the positive while maintaining the perfect level of sympathy and respect for our history.
Then, yesterday, we had a 12-week ultrasound and initial appointment at the same hospital we had visited to discuss Sebastian’s pathology report – since they will be sharing our care for this pregnancy. I’ll write more about that visit later, but for now let me say that the highlight was seeing our newest little one onscreen, wiggling around with its tiny arms and legs. I’ve always loved seeing my babies on ultrasound, but this was the first time I’ve been teary-eyed. Because obviously.
So that’s what I’m going to focus on – especially once I start feeling movement. As much as I can, I’m going to be mindful, in the sense of appreciating what’s happening now, enjoying the pregnancy for what it is. Whoever it is in there, he or she is pretty cool already. That’s joy-worthy.
And knowing that every healthy baby is a miracle – given all of the seven jillion tiny things that could conceivably go wrong in the creation of a human – I’m going to try my best to expect this one to be just that.
In that spirit, therefore, I shall tell you the following: our baby is due either September 29th or October 2nd, depending on what calculation you look at. Presently, he or she is the size of either a plum or a lime, depending on the website you look at. Most of baby’s critical systems are fully formed, even though it’s only about 5 centimetres (2 inches) long.
COME ON. That’s crazy-awesome.
[I just have to share with you that the first time I visited The Bump to look at the fruit comparisons, the label on the Week 15 fruit was labelled as a “Naval” orange. I tried hard to think of a wicked joke about the role of seamen in the baby/fruit-making process… but sorry, mushy preggint brane no workz good.]
Dearest Di-hards, may I just say: it feels so good to write all this to you. I worked on at least four other blog posts over the course of March break, but couldn’t make any of them work with the unmentioned elephant in my brain. (Taking up a LOT of space.) I’m glad you know now, because finally there’s a true context for whatever else I might write. It’s a big relief.
Thank you, again, for everything.