February 21, 2014
Before finding out that I had miscarried, being pregnant was my constant, the lens in which I saw the world. It was new and took a while to sink in, but just about that week, perhaps two weeks before, I began to believe that I really was pregnant. My body seemed to be changing, the “actual size” pictures that compared the fetus to various fruits and vegetables in the baby books, were getting larger. And because you can’t see any of it happening “in there,” your reality is what you are being told about it all. Like measuring the chance of rain. The confirmation of these events at this point occur in ultra sound and Doppler readings. I had even begun to dream real dreams that I was pregnant. I woke up with my hand on my belly.
As I waited for the midwife and tech to figure out the ultrasound machine at my 12-week appointment, every detail was crisp and rimmed with the gleam of sterile bright light. The crackly white paper on the exam table, brightly colored Danskos that perfectly matched the nurse’s scrubs, the white tiled floor with an unpredictable blue square that peeked out from under the stool. But moments after those words were spoken – “Honey, I’m afraid you’ve had a miscarriage.” – a woozy filter dulled my every sense. The midwife’s touch, the sound of the gabbing scrub-wearers gathered around the nursing stand, the smell of the ultrasound jelly they used to confirm the news that was descending on me. I had entered a blurry nightmare. But there was no real panic or horror. Just acute pain. So I’m not sure if you can really call it a nightmare at all.
Once the dust began to settle around me, there seemed to have been an inverse shift in my reality. My short pregnancy began fading into a soft and feathery memory. Like a beautiful dream that felt so real. One of those dreams that you think, if I could just fall back asleep I might pick up where I left off. But whenever you fall back asleep it is never the same. The scenes have shifted and the characters aren’t quite right. And you ache inside to feel that perfection again, that moment right before the realization that you were actually asleep.
Now that I’ve woken up, I worry that people will shake their heads at me and say, “You have no reason to be sad. You must be crazy. It was just a silly dream.” I feel like a little girl who was playing house, pretending to run a household of cabbage patch kids and stuffed animals. Isn’t that sweet, the adults around me say. She really thinks she is a mom. And then they laugh patronizing laughs that only exist in my head. I have to keep telling myself (and saying it out loud) that I was pregnant. There was a living, growing baby inside me. I really did taste a honey sweet moment of motherhood.
I have a terrible thought every time I watch the screen with my interrupted life playing on it. I think – yes, this makes sense, you don’t get to have a baby because you don’t get good things. You get less than good things. You get things that are inadequate and insignificant. Like the feeling I got when I was nine years old and I did the cake-walk at my school’s ice cream social. That disappointment would burrow itself down in my gut each time I saw others win and I walked away empty handed.
If I ever believed in the devil, it would be now. That evil little voice that tells me that I won’t ever win. That things will always just be alright – not great.
But this is bullshit. Among a million other winnings, I have always counted my luck in meeting my husband as a reason I cannot believe that little whispering liar that is the darkness of my thoughts. Mikey is better than ok, he is amazing. He is not perfect, but he is perfect for me. I have won the prize with him. And I am lucky to have loving friends and family. And a nice home and job and a car and a bunch of things that are far beyond necessity. This baby thing is not yet another thing that I can chalk up to bad luck. It wasn’t a cruel joke being played on me by an evil step mother – pretending I can go the ball then giving me the list of chores I must complete before I leave.
It is a hard, terrible thing that really happened. Over the past three months I was sick and tired, then crushed and vacuumed, now I’m broken and wandering. I held something beautiful in my hands and it slipped right through my fingers. It wasn’t my fault and I’m not being punished. It’s just part of life and I’m simply waking up to this reality, as I have a hundred times before in varying degrees and survived to tell the tale.
I am trying to think vaguely about trying again. But my thoughts turn to precise lines and details. About months and if we get pregnant in October that means I’ll be due in June. I’m thinking about fertility diets and progesterone and yoga and vitamins. I’m thinking about perfection and avoiding this tragedy again. Because even though I have the assurance that it was a genetic fluke, I worry that I could make a choice that would affect a future pregnancy. And I’m pissed. Like after a car crash that was my fault. I’m pissed I wasn’t paying attention and that I didn’t leave two minutes later and that I was distracted.
I seem to have wandered into super OCD fix-it mode. If I just do these ten things (no wait, 14 things. No wait, 23 things…) then I will solve all the problems of my world. What are my “problems” to date? Well for one, the baby that Mike and I planned for and started to paint into our future vision died. The baby that was just starting to weasel its way into my heart. The little ball of cells that was beginning to take the shape of an alien-like human. That had paddles for hands and a depleting tail. But it had the eyes and nose and ears of the little baby that we hoped to some day kiss. That’s a big problem to deal with. It hurts and I don’t understand the response I’m having to it. It’s affecting my brain function and my ability to read. It’s caused me to question my job and the meaning of life.
Other “problems” that seem to be fixable. Well, I’m pretty much an inactive human being. When I was pregnant with little blob (should I call her Kiki instead? Was the name even necessary?) I got on that elliptical and I worked hard. And I chanted to myself – “I’m going to be a strong mama, this is for my baby.” Perhaps it’s because I’m feeling low, but I don’t know how to conjure up those passionate feelings of love and care for my own empty-uterus self. I struggle to even drink a glass of water. I did that for my baby. These perfectly human, normal parts of living are so labored. I yearn for rest. All I want to do is go to sleep.
© 2014 D. Willson
One thought on “12 weeks – part 4: waking up”