Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Did I Speak Too Soon?

I read advice somewhere in my early stages of grief that advised couples who lost a child in-utero to only start trying again once they felt their excitement for having another child outweighed their fear of losing said child.

I call bullshit.

While we're excited at being pregnant again, we are terrified at equal levels. Like my friend Keleen pointed out in one of her current pregnancy post-loss posts, we're more familiar with the idea of loss than life. In some ways, I'm more "comfortable" with how to react if this child dies than if it lives. It's the only experience I have. I don't think my fear will ever go away and I don't think that if we waited a year, 2 years, 5 years, that my heart would feel any different. I might actually feel more fear because my biological clock is ticking and complications mount the more time I wait.

I've spent the last 4 months avoiding pregnancy topics, talks, and anything that might "out" me as one of them. I've been desperately hiding my belly so students wouldn't notice. To date, two of them have commented. One said, "You're having another baby?" It's abnormal to see someone pregnant so quickly after their last obvious pregnancy. I get it, kid. I logically responded by looking at him like he was crazy and telling him to get back to reading his story. Another girl commented on how I looked pregnant. I acted offended that she would consider me "fat", though I'm obviously masking a growing munchkin. Another innocent kiddo asked where my son was recently. I responded by saying, "Well, not here!" The child then commented back about him being home with a babysitter. Hah. If only.

The teachers are more keen and concerned for me, often asking questions about well-being. I've got to be honest, though. I have never announced to any of these people, yet they feel the need to ask me point-blank if I am pregnant. I'm a little surprised by this because 1. It's never okay to ask someone if they are pregnant unless they are clearly showing if you aren't at least a close friend or the keeper of their phone number (indicating personal relationship) and 2. Pregnancy is a fragile topic for me. Handle with care. If I'm not talking about it, I probably don't want to. It's also incredibly uncomfortable to feel like I need to validate how myself and my doctors plan to make sure this one doesn't die. They don't outright say it like that, but it usually heads down this road: So... is there anything being done differently this time? Well, yes, but mostly just to protect my fragile heart and reassure me constantly that there's still a heartbeat. The implication is that we didn't do enough last time to save Andrew and therefore were negligent in some way and responsible for his death. No, sometimes it's just an accident. Maybe that's just me being all defensive and presuming too much. I know people are curious and afraid to ask. When they do ask, I make assumptions about their thoughts and become offended. Always a lose-lose. Gah. I can assure you that I wouldn't just get pregnant again to put myself intentionally back in the dead-baby zone. I will move heaven and earth for this child, just as I would for Andrew. There are some wonderful responses like, "We're over the moon for you. Please know that you are in our every thought and prayer for this little one."

Anyway, just babbling my emotions once again. I had a scare on Sunday morning when I thought my stomach looked less bulging and therefore my automatic assumption was that there was a limp, lifeless baby inside my uterus. I asked Ray for the doppler (he keeps it in his car so I don't have freakout sessions without him home) and we found the heartbeat right away along with some movement. I questioned recently if I thought the doppler was a good purchase. I felt it made me crazy trying to figure out if the sounds I was hearing were actually the heartbeat. That one use validated the purchase.

I spent a good portion of the yesterday evening crying. I rarely answer the phone anymore, so the voicemails just pile up.This time there were seven. I know that once I let them play, I'll cry. For that reason, I let them pile up so I can listen when I feel most emotionally stable and get the tears out of the way all at the same time. When I went to listen, I heard such wonderful messages of love and support. What should normally be comforting to most people sent me into a fit of crying. I haven't cried that long and hard for a long time. I was crying because I felt like a terrible friend. Like I've been entirely too antisocial but don't know how to handle things any other way. Crying because people are saying wonderful things to congratulate and offer condolences when I never wanted to be in this position to begin with. I appreciate them but just don't know how to handle things. Crying because I couldn't (still) believe this is the life I'll live forever missing Andrew. It can be really too much to handle sometimes. When tears feel like they're literally pouring out of your heart and could fill up a small bowl with their downpour.

Announcing the pregnancy was a vulnerable experience for me. I hate putting myself out there so much, but I knew it was inevitable. There's so much to talk about that makes this pregnancy a world different than my pregnancy with Andrew. I'm sure I'll get to all those emotions at some point if I can keep my head straight for 5 minutes long enough to blog about them.

Ten months. It stings.


LookItsJessica said... [Reply to comment]

I had never thought of the "are you doing anything different" question as an assumption that I maybe didn't do something right until now. But now that I think about it, the implication is there. And really, the people who ask that question don't seem to really care about our extra ultrasounds or more monitoring and certainly aren't the first people to wonder "how can I make sure this never happens again?" (that would be us, the parents).

It's a weird question to ask. Of COURSE we're going to take steps to try to prevent a similar outcome, are we fools?

Anyway-- I liked your post and feel similarly on essentially all the things you've said. Oh! Yeah I also think its bullshit that my excitement for a new baby will outweigh the sadness about Liam. Excitement is a tentative feeling, it usually goes away after a certain point: sadness over the loss of a baby is real and (I think) so devastating that it might not outweigh true happiness over a new baby but I think it trumps "excitement" especially in the early stages.

OK sorry that was so long-winded!

Tiffany said... [Reply to comment]

((hugs)) i understand completely. i wish things were easy after a loss. grieving parents shouldn't have to deal with added stress, we should get a pass.

Addi's mom said... [Reply to comment]

If we had waited to start trying again once we felt our excitement for having another child outweighed our fear of losing said child I would never have gotten pregnant again!

I'm terrified right along with you my friend.

Oh and I can't believe today is 10 months...double freakin' digits without our babies just blows my mind. Ugh. Missing both our sweet baby A's today.

Kelly said... [Reply to comment]

I also disagree with the statement of trying again when excitement outweighs the fear. I will always be terrified. Now. 2 years. 10 years. I think we all will/are.

Thinking of you today and always.

Becky said... [Reply to comment]

The person whose advice it was to wait until your excitement for a new baby outweighed the fear of losing said baby obviously never lost a baby. Pretty sure no matter the number of pregnancies/ babies I have I will have fear because I know what its like to be on the side of babyloss.
I am glad you decided to announce and write about this pregnancy.
10 months:(

e Liz said... [Reply to comment]

I read the same "advice" somewhere too, and after reading it felt very defeated and upset because fear and sadness are a VERY tangible part of the reality; I didn't want to attempt to morph myself to suppress natural feelings that are helpful in grieving. Especially for your child!! So I ignored the "advice". Even though that (not truly) "again" certainly isn't an easy road, with its own unique set of emotions post loss. I was reading somewhere else about "prepping" answers since pregnancy is that time where people - often not close to you - can be super forward with very personal questions. It's too hard to forsee all the questions, though. Someone asked me in front of a group of co-workers, "Is this your first?" I just didn't want an audience for that seemingly innocent question. It is beyond rough. The vulnerablity is like one of those quick, exposing bandaid removals. <3

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

This is so insightful. For all my daydreaming about pregnancy, I never thought about the way people would tiptoe around trying to ask "So what are you doing differently to keep THIS one alive?"

And I completely understand the way sympathy and nice people can make you totally come unglued. I don't WANT their niceness and pity. I want to be smug and happy with my baby here.

I'm so sorrow Andrew's not here with you, and I want to make you a maternity t-shirt that says "I don't want to talk about it."

Amelia said... [Reply to comment]

I get it. Sending good thoughts your way.

Renel said... [Reply to comment]

it sounds like scary seas to navigate. I don't know what it is like yet to be pregnant after loss. I imagine I will be a little bit nuts, maybe a lot a bit nuts. NO MATTER what people say or don't say, it seems wrong most of the time. I think it is because us not having our babies is SO wrong! THE DOPPLER... how do you not just sit around with that thing resting on your belly all day? I would want one but I also know in my case that Camille was alive at 10 at night and not alive at 3 in the morning. How would I have been able to catch that? Sending a giant hug to you and the growing little one inside you.

boo and stacy said... [Reply to comment]

The hours of balled up anxiety I could have saved myself with the doppler and the Snuza halo....

and did the lady in the first line of your post lose a child? or is that just her research? I say stick to what you feel....researcher smersearcher.

Darcey said... [Reply to comment]

My emotions are all over the place as well. It seems like the farther I get along into this pregnancy the more tears I have and they are showing up more frequently and even on a daily basis once again. I think it is bringing me back to Logan's pregnancy and realizing how much I miss him and how much my heart aches for him.

Ben and Katie said... [Reply to comment]

I admire your honesty. It helps people like me who have never had babies to value them so much every single moment. You know our story and how I have to value every moment with my man. Also, through your honesty and writing it has taught me how I can be there for people and have a small glimpse of how to respond.
Some people in our life have made the stupidest comments when they know nothing like, "it just takes time" and the over all greatest one that people like to use in tragedy is, "it happened for a reason." I call bs on that!
Thank you for helping me help others just a tiny bit in their grief!

Monique said... [Reply to comment]

For what its worth, I get it. I lost my first to a cord accident @ 37 weeks and then had a early miscarriage 4 months forward and I eventually did deliver a healthy boy but that pregnancy was crazy-making in many, many ways. You can do it, though. One day, one minute at a time.

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

I had similar thoughts on the "what are they doing differently this time" question. Because I wanted to always ensure my answer conveyed the sentiment that while things would be different, it didn't mean that our baby was at any less of a risk than Cale was. It's hard - people just don't get it. Lucky bastards.

Hang in there. It's hard and emotionally draining at times. But you'll handle how hard it is because of your love for your baby and your hope to bring him/her home.

Nikki said... [Reply to comment]

Hey there, congrats. I am so happy for you :)

I did this, then thought I probably should have asked you first. I am doing a local "walk to remember" next week. I made a t-shirt with all of the names and angel dates of lost babies I have come across since losing Aiden. I added Andrew to the shirt. If you want to see pics, I can add you on facebook. I hope this is ok.

Natasha said... [Reply to comment]

Being pregnant after losing my baby boy is by far the hardest thing I've ever done. It's hard to be as excited as you want to be because of fear and the fact that you are still so broken over losing your child. I wish there was a way to put a shield around yourself when you're pregnant after a loss- a "nothing bad can happen to this pregnancy/child because this poor mama has already been through way too much" shield.

Ten months is hard- thinking of you and your little Andrew and wishing you a healthy pregnancy with your new little one.