Before I was pregnant for the second time, just after we lost him, I found solace in becoming pregnant again. I was consumed by it, as was Scott. How to get us from point A to point B as quickly as possible.
I just knew it would be the one little thing which could make any of this better. Sure, I could never have Jack back, but if the dates and months were going to fly by and be incredibly painful regardless of my wishes, I could at least be pregnant and have something to celebrate. Someone to look forward to.
My perception as to what being pregnant again would be like was far from the reality which I experience.
Back when I knew it all, I swore up and down being pregnant was going to be akin to "grieving with a little hope". Sure I will always grieve Jack, but at least I could have a little aside of joy in my life. That was my though process- a life which remained sour and tart, but with a little kick to it. I assumed it would be better, because there was finally something to look forward to again. I felt pangs of jealousy when I heard of newly established pregnancies, just knowing everything for them would fly along just perfectly while I was left sweeping up the shambles of my life.
I thought of only the happy things, and never really gave any thought to how complicated it is to be pregnant and grieving, simultaneously. That my happiness does come with a huge aside of fear and dread and anxiety.
I feel like the outside world, those who haven't experienced this type of loss, assume things are all good now that we're expecting once again. Because they are confident we have paid our dues and moving forward life will be grand... Because they can't imagine any other alternative because they've never had to. People who give me a puzzled look when I hesitate when responding to "how are you feeling?" questions because it is oh-so-much-more-complicated than "great thanks, you?". People who want us to enjoy this pregnancy and this baby on it's own and not let our previous experiences deter us from opening up to this new little lady, but it's impossible to separate the two pregnancies when they are so similar, so close in proximity, and my only experience with pregnancy has been a less than desirable outcome.
Of course I want to believe, more than anything, that we will welcome this baby into our arms for keeps in 13 weeks. But when people try to convince me everything is going to be okay it sets my stomach afire with fear and anxiety. It makes me angry to hear it, even though I use these same words to ease my BLM friends... Because of course it shouldn't happen again, but then it should never really have been a possibility in the first place, right? Because there are no guarantees, and now I know it's a possibility I can't ease my worried little mine. Because it could, after all, happen again.
Knowing that just sucks.
And the worrying, it never stops.
There remain some saving graces in this pregnancy which I honestly believe have helped me to cope with the worries I carry within me, and I will try my best to describe them here in the hopes it might help someone (anyone?) and also linking up to My New Normal's "Managing the Fear" post.
1) Having a baby of the opposite gender. Obviously this is nothing I had any control over, though I do think it helps me to keep these babies separate in both my words and my heart. I have my little boy, and I have my little girl. I can't really explain why I think it helps me, but it does. I am entirely prepared to dress a little boy from 7lbs through age 4. No joke, my family is filled with shopaholics (my mother, sister and myself) and as such I am
2) Talking through & preparing for my anxieties. I talk to anyone who will listen to let them know my fears and anxieties- I don't keep it hidden. I'm a pretty open person to begin with, and discretion really isn't a specialty of mine which should come as no surprise considering all the things I've shared on this blog... I've been straight forward and honest at work by letting them all know of my intentions to take my leave earlier than my due date. Originally I told myself if I could get to February at work without losing my mind, that would be my goal. As I passed Jack's anniversaries, I told myself I could easily get to March, and perhaps even to the beginning of April before I would grant myself the option to let panic take over and become a freak show. So, this is the plan I'm sticking to. April is my new goal.
This point is actually two fold though, in that I also talk about what I anticipate so people will be checking in on me and my emotional state as birth approaches, and after we get home as well. By talking about it, I'm letting them know it's okay to ask me, and in fact I encourage it. I really can't think of anything I would hate more than if once she gets here, people don't ask me how I am doing mentally... It will be the biggest, pinkest, loudest elephant in the room, and I want people to talk to me about it in case I can't vocally ask for help. I already know some of my triggers (and breast feeding will undoubtably be one of them). I want to know people will be looking out for me when the time comes, because I am fully expecting there to be a PTSD aftershock. I'm not even kidding a little bit.
3) New OBGYN & new hospital. Something's gotta give, and in this case it was either my mind or my experience. I feel really badly, my OBGYN wasn't even the one who delivered Jack and I absolutely love her. It is thanks to her I got the "all clear" to start ttc once again, and thanks to her I was on Provera and later Clomid. She accepted my spastic phone calls and never made me feel judged. Honestly, it came down to the fact that she only has privileges at one hospital, and I don't think I can step foot in that same hospital again. Scott's made it clear he would be extremely uncomfortable there, so at my 22 week appointment I asked for a referral to a pretty new hospital in the city (with a top-rated NICU to boot) and my OBGYN obliged, letting me know she'd request a friend of hers take over my care. I know this is the right decision for us because for the first time in this entire pregnancy, I am actually looking forward to the delivery. Can you believe it? I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love my OBGYN, but I love my babies more.
4) Giving myself targets. I'm a list person, through and through. I don't need a physical list (though anyone that has seen my desk at work can attest I have plenty of those, too). I give myself a mental checklist of dates and numbers and anniversaries. I turned the very thing which used to haunt me in the beginning (the incessant anniversary dates creeping up on me) and turned it into a coping mechanism to get through pregnancy after a loss. I gave myself goals: to get to eight weeks, then twelve weeks pregnant. Then each ultrasound, including the anatomy scan. To get through Christmas, New Years Eve, Jack's birthday and anniversaries. February first. Now that I'm 25 weeks pregnant, I've started a count-down of the number of weeks/days/work days left. It seems crazy (and I'll admit it is!), but somehow these little breakdowns of the time left is working and I'm starting to feel like time is getting away from me pretty quickly.
5) Distractions. We continue house hunting, planning out our dream home, crunching numbers. We're going on vacation for a little over a week next week- when I come back I'll already be 27 weeks pregnant. Then I only have 11 weeks left 'til she arrives. <-- See what I did right there? :)
6) I cry, wherever and whenever I feel like it. Most often it's at work and the most inconsequential thing is said to me, and I'll start silently sobbing at my desk. I don't make a big deal out of it other than when I run out of tissues and have already slobbered on my sleeves to the point of no return. I let my grief take over and I give into the fit of tears. I used to think that perhaps people who saw me cry might think I was weak or wonder whether I'd lost it, but then I realized I don't really give a shit, and that this is an impossibly difficult card I've been dealt and none of them can relate to it in any meaningful way- therefore, who are they to judge me, you know? I also tear up on the train when I hear a meaningful song on my Ipod (the other day it was Tim McGraw's "My Little Girl" that set me off). I don't make apologies for my emotions, they are what make me who I am.
7) I write emails to my BLM BFFs. I alert them to my craziness and they talk me off the edge. I try to reciprocate. I Can not describe how much these ladies have helped through this. At the end of the day, it's so nice to know you're not alone.