Today is the 20th. Not an extra special 20th, just the day that Odin would be 15 months. I’ve been doing really “well” lately and have been feeling more at peace, as I’ve mentioned in a couple of previous posts. I think that peace is still there, but some days the grief can feel new again. You can be living your life, just carrying on with the regular things and the gravity of what’s happened — even if it’s been 15 months — hits like a ton of bricks. I’m having a hard time today so I’m writing as a way of distracting myself and trying to articulate my feelings.
There’s a bit of news that I’ve been torn about sharing that I’m going to bury in this post. As of tomorrow I will be 14 weeks pregnant. There, I said it. I don’t know who will read this but admitting it here seems like a good place to start. Our immediate families know and some close friends but it’s incredibly complicated this news. Dreading blind and exuberant “Congratulations!!” messages devoid of the weight of our loss and fearing that those who do not understand what pregnancy after loss (PAL) feels like will assume that we’re finally “moving on”. Or that the people who said “you’ll have another” will be free to say or think, “I told you so” not realizing that a pregnancy is not a guarantee of a healthy living child. The thing about announcing a PAL is that almost everything you do feels like tempting fate. Every good ultrasound or blood test (we’ve had a few already) brings a relief as if we’ve dodged a literal bullet. Every bit of positive news feels too good to be true; makes us question why things seem to be going so well. Even though for the average person a positive result is just expected and ordinary. For me what is a precious gift (my iron levels are okay! I got into the midwife clinic I applied to!) to other people is just a normal, regular part of an average pregnancy. What other people take for granted I realize I am infinitely lucky to have.
I’m not even sure I knew how much I appreciated this pregnancy and how my point of view had shifted until our 12 week scan a couple of weeks ago. With Odin, our 12-week scan was miserable. The tech was rough and Odin wasn’t in the right positions for her to get the measurements. After 45 minutes she sent me away to eat and I came back for her to try again for another 45 minutes. I remember feeling bruised and I barely remember seeing him on the monitor. (I’m trying not to weep as I recall that memory. I know it doesn’t mean anything about his eventual fate, but it does make me sad that that scan went so poorly and it was one of my only chances to see him alive.) With this scan, the baby was relatively still. So still that I expressed concern about it. The tech, who was kind, despite having some undesirable opinions about whether we should pay $30 for a cd of pictures, said, “Babies rest. They move and then they rest” with enough authority that I felt reassured. For some lucky reason I was positioned on the examining table in a way that I could see the screen for the entire procedure. It was an incredibly special few minutes for me. The tech also got me to cough a little to show me the baby’s movements. The tech jiggled the ultrasound wand against my belly as I coughed and the baby wiggled around and put an arm up as if to wave. N also got to come in and see after the measurements had been taken and by then the baby had changed positions and we could see her spine — which was weird but also fascinating (like a tiny little railroad!). The tech had me cough again so N could see her dance. No matter what happens in the future of this pregnancy I am so grateful for that scan. (I was weeping a few minutes ago but now I’m smiling and weeping.)
I have been referring to the baby as “she” for a couple of reasons, none of which are based on fact. One is that I feel so differently with this pregnancy that I’m just assuming that this baby is a girl (I felt nauseated 24/7 for weeks). The other is that I find it annoying to say “he or she” all the time and prefer not to refer to her as “baby”. The other reason is that when we found out I was pregnant my whole heart wanted this baby to be a boy. I knew deep down I would be happy either way as long as the baby was healthy and got to come home with us but I initially really struggled with the idea of a daughter. (Parents tend to have strong feelings one way or another about the sex of a subsequent child after loss.) After the scan, though, and seeing the baby for real I feel more ready for whatever sex the baby is. And the mystery will be solved in a few weeks.
The 20th is still hard, but now that I’ve written my confession I feel a little lighter. I think today I should do something for Odin. I’m not sure what, but I’ll come up with something.