Monday, May 18, 2015

Choosing hope. Or trying to.


I am pregnant.

With our third child.

Shocking, I know.
You're probably like, "Woah, didn't she just write about how much anxiety pregnant women give her?"  Yes.  I did.  They do.  My anxiety about pregnant women has only gotten worse being pregnant myself.  They only make me more uncomfortable, because I feel so very different from them.

Let me back up.  

I'm pretty sure I started thinking about another baby while I was still in the hospital with Lydie.  I didn't say anything out loud because that would have just been crazy.  I was trying to soak up every moment with my daughter.  I think I just told myself, this can't be the end of our story.

I continued to think about it in those initial days, weeks, months.  I told myself it was a knee-jerk reaction.  I told myself to slow down.

We all know that I like to refer to Elizabeth McCracken to explain how I feel, because she does it better than I do.  She explained it as two separate wantings, her wanting for her stillborn son and her wanting for another child.  And one of those wantings, she could do something about, while the other she could not.  I nodded my head A LOT during that part.

The truth is, we do want Lydie.  We want Lydie not in an urn on our mantle, but sitting up and laughing and watching her big brother get into trouble.  We want that more than anything.  But there's this stage of grief that Elizabeth Kubler-Ross calls "acceptance."  I, by no means, think I am there.  But I do realize that that dream of mine is never going to happen.  I realize that Lydie will always be missed.  A friend of ours says that Kubler-Ross should have called it "resignation," and I believe that is far more accurate.

I know we will continue to grieve for Lydie for the rest of our lives.  No matter how many other children we have.

I also always knew that being pregnant again would be hard.  Really hard.  Terrifying.  Before I became pregnant, I had anxiety about having anxiety about being pregnant.  It seemed easier to jump into the anxiety itself.  I knew that no matter how long we waited, that anxiety wouldn't be going anywhere.

I'm also 33.  Not old.  But certainly not getting any younger or becoming any easier to have children.

I also wanted to have my children close together.  Lydia was stillborn when Ben was 19 months old.  It wasn't supposed to look that way.  And I find myself still wanting my children close together, although I'm learning that I don't have nearly as much control over that as I always thought I did.

And I also found myself terrified of secondary infertility.  You may scratch your head at that one.  Nothing in our history indicates that conceiving would be a problem.  My therapist reminded me often not to allow infertility any space in my story until it had to be there.  But still, there was a deep-seeded fear: what if this is it?

We did the math about conception and timelines and Lydie's birthday and due date and asked if should try to avoid a November baby.  And a December baby.

But if I've learned anything, it's that I can't control these things.  I didn't feel like trying to manage due dates.

I told myself (and let's face it, my husband) we'd give it three months and if all these yearnings were still present, we'd talk about trying for our third.  I've been very careful with that language.  "Trying again" makes Lydie sound like she was a mistake, an error, like we need a redo.  "Trying for a third" acknowledges Lydie's place in our family.  She is and always will be our second child.

So that's how I found myself pregnant not even three months after Lydia's stillbirth.

It wasn't elation when I saw that second pink line.  It was "oh."  It was a deep breath.  It was tucking the open bottle of wine out of my sight in the fridge. The fear shifted from secondary infertility to miscarriage.  And it was denial for a while.  Justin said something about me being pregnant early on and I snapped at him, "I'm not pregnant!  I just had a positive pregnancy test!"  I had to wait two weeks to see my OB at 6 weeks and I became a little more convinced after seeing that little heart beating.  (But I cried too, because last time I had an ultrasound it was to determine, just to be sure, that Lydie's heart wasn't beating.  And it wasn't.  I cried because I so very badly wished that was Lydie's heart I saw beating.  And I also cried from relief, because if I can't make Lydie's heart start beating again, then I want this little one to keep beating).

I'm now 16 weeks.  I have had 11 ultrasounds.   I see my own OB weekly.  I sit in the waiting room with other pregnant women and try to avoid looking at them and all the magazines with celebrities having babies on the cover (damn you, Kate Middleton).   Gratefully, I don't have to wait for more than a few minutes.  My doctor has asked the reception staff to let her know when I arrive and she doesn't make me wait, just snaps me up.  The other women glare at me, and I think, believe me, you don't want this VIP status. 

I see two doctors, who are in conversation about my care.   The Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist was the second one we consulted with back in January, when this pregnancy was entirely hypothetical.  He seemed willing to do what helps to help me "manage" my anxiety.  He's willing to measure the cord.

The thing is, I'm not only afraid of cord accidents.  I am now very familiar with the many, many ways that babies can die. I know about all the things that can go wrong in pregnancy.  And after birth. 

I didn't have a miscarriage in the first trimester, like I pretty much expected to.  I used to think if you didn't spot during the first trimester, you hadn't miscarried.  I now know all about missed miscarriages.  I now know you can be informed, that actually, that baby of yours stopped growing weeks ago.  Hence seeing my doctor weekly.  I want to know as soon as my baby dies.   I drive to every doctor's appointment reminding myself there's wine in the fridge at home.

But as far as I know, I am still pregnant right now. 

And things look good, at this point in time.

A month ago, I saw the MFM for the nuchal translucency scan, looking for Down's Syndrome, Trisomy 13, and Trisomy 18.  Their equipment is amazing, and I couldn't believe all the details we could see on this little one.  And the results came back "absolutely perfect."

I have to remind myself this is a good news.

It's just that Lydie's results would have come back absolutely perfect too.

It's hard to find any sort of relief, any sort of peace of mind.

I cringe when I hear "congratulations."  That's hard to hear, for reasons that I've explained before.  Like how I heard that so many times while pregnant with Lydie but not once after she was (still)born.  I would like to hear "congratulations" if and when I am holding a breathing baby in my arms.  But I understand it's what people say when they hear this news.   I have a friend, a fellow BLM, whose first son was stillborn and is expecting her second child 4 days ahead of me.  I asked her if she hates hearing "congratulations" too.  "No," she told me.  "It reminds me of the hope.  And its so easy to let the fear win over the hope.  So 'congratulations' helps me hang on to the hope."  What wise words, and ones I am trying to remember.   (And if you want to say "good luck with that," I'm okay with that too.  I certainly hope to have good luck with this).

My due date is November 1st.  Yes, that's right, November.  5 days before Lydia's first birthday.  361 after the worst day of my life.

But if all goes well, this little rainbow will be delivered at 37 weeks.

And besides, the due date is a moot point.  Let's see if we get there first.

It's hard for me to share this news.

I worry about my baby loss friends who are at different parts of their journeys.  I worry about the ones that have not been able to have their rainbow, my friends who have to deal with infertility on top of loss.  I worry that this pregnancy reminds them of how unfair the world is.  I worry that I'll make them feel the way other pregnant women make me feel.  I worry that I'll alienate or cause more pain to the very women that have been my lifelines.  (And for you mamas, I want us all to be holding living babies in our arms).

I worry that others will think it's too soon.

I worry that others won't understand the complexities in this pregnancy.  I worry they won't understand the fear.

I worry that others will think this means we've "moved on"or that we're "over" Lydie or that this "fixes" things.

So to be clear: this pregnancy doesn't fix anything.

I will miss my daughter for the rest of my life.

But it does give us a very small amount of hope.

I desperately hope that she'll become a big sister soon. I desperately hope that this baby will live.

With all three of my babies. 


  1. I think I've already told you all the words I have about this news, but just know, I'm always here, and I will always, always, always have hope. And I think there's a lot of hope floating around for that little Bowie, right now, too.

    This journey is going to be so hard, but so worth it, I can promise you that. And we're all rooting for you guys.

    You will never be fixed, because there's no fixing what happened to Lydie. But we all deserve happiness. I love that you're taking this picture. I love that you're trying. You're doing the best you can, Heather. Big big love.

  2. You are so brave to tell your story and share your fears. Nothing will replace Lydie, but I am thinking every day of your growing bump and sending positive thoughts your way for this uneasy pregnancy. This picture of your 3 babies is very special. What a good big brother Ben is. :) I love you all!!

  3. Aw, I love this picture! Can't wait to give you all a hug.

  4. What a cute picture! So that's what it looks like to be pregnant and not fat! I wouldn't know anything about that--I am HUGE already with this bed rest! Your perfectly round bump is adorable! I am round all around. :/ Love that you are using the "third" phrase. So important. Lots of love!!

  5. I can imagine the complicated emotions you must be having with this pregnancy. I'm so glad you and the little peanut are healthy and getting the support you need from your medical staff. Hope, love thoughts and support coming your way. You're a wonderful writer and I so value the rare honesty and insight you've given us.

  6. I love the picture of you and your 3 babies! Makes me smile!

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  8. Love you, friend. Thinking about you lots :)

  9. I'm desperately hoping for you too. Thank you so so much for sharing your story. You're so empathetic and thoughtful! I'll be sending you peace, so much peace on this journey.

  10. Love seeing a smile on your face :)


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