Things have been so busy and yet I have wanted to sit down and write for sometime now. I woke up at 4:30 this AM and decided there was no better time.
I have been struggling to connect with this pregnancy, to bond with this little boy. I keep hearing that this is normal, that my my head is just trying to protect my heart, but I am his mother and I don't want to miss out on a single second of what should be a very happy time in my life. It's something I think about daily, but last Thursday it really came to a head.
We had our support group last Thursday and part of the problem was that because of the holidays it had been longer than usual in between meetings. I couldn't believe how ready I was for it! The other problem, it's a place to talk about our lost babies, but not a place to talk about pregnancy after loss. While the two are very much connected I know the last thing other baby loss parents need to hear is how hard this is. So I wear something to try and hide the belly and I never ever bring it up. Here in lies a major problem. So much of my current hurt has to do with packing up my daughter's things and the fear I have over losing this baby and yet those things are left unmentioned.
One of the leaders told a story about "embracing the joy" she gave an example about losing a mother, getting a step-mother, losing that step-mother and then getting a second step-mother. One of the children was able to embrace each mother and the other couldn't after the loss of the second one. (I get that this isn't the same, but work with me). So this "latest" mother has now been around for 20+ years and the one sibling has missed out on her by not allowing herself to embrace the joy and the other has a great relationship with her. Basically the one sister has been too fearful to love this woman and so has kept her distance, while the other has had 20+ years of wonderful memories and love.
I sat in silence after this story and the more I thought about it the more my eyes welled and my throat got tight. I couldn't help, but see that THIS is my problem. I can't embrace the joy. I was sitting there 24 weeks pregnant with a seemingly perfect, healthy little boy and I haven't enjoyed a damn minute of this pregnancy with him. I missing it now and I will most likely miss out on more due to my intense fears.
My mind was racing and I was thinking why, WHY can't I just allow myself to go there. Brian has embraced the joy and as the mom I should too. I was asking myself these questions:
Q. If we lost this baby tomorrow would I be any LESS sad because I have kept my heart at a distance? A. NO
Q. If we lost him too, would I regret not letting myself enjoy this as the only time we got with him the way I should?
Q. If he is born alive and we get to keep him, will I regret not enjoying this time in my life?
Q. If I had been less excited for Addison, would losing her have hurt any less?
Q. Does loving him make me love Addison any less?
So there you have it, not a damn reason that I can give myself that I shouldn't be loving every second of this pregnancy. I am not a miserable pregnant lady, my body handles it well and I enjoy the way my body changes, the movements, basically all of it, but this time I feel so cheated and the problem is that I am the one to blame. The problem is I DON'T KNOW HOW to embrace the joy. I know it's there, but there is too much fear in front of me to get to it.
Old me, rational me would have said "just do it", just make yourself. You know it's for the best, but new me, terrified me can do nothing, but cry about it (which I did in a full on melt down after the meeting). Poor Brian. He kept trying to get my attention at the meeting, pulling on my jacket and I kept ignoring him. I was just trying not to look at him, trying to hold the tears back until the meeting was over. Then as we left, there were the hugs good-bye and something about a hug when I am about to lose it makes me REALLY lose it. So there I am in tears and Brian is feeling like he is responsible when really these are my issues and no one elses.
Once we were out to the parking lot he says, "I know this makes me a jerk, but I don't know what's wrong", which actually made me laugh. Of course he didn't know what was wrong, he is not a mind reader! I couldn't talk about it with him, I needed some time to go over it some more in my head before I could say it out loud. He was so worried and I felt bad for not sharing what was on my mind, but I just couldn't.
While letting this out was important, it really got the crying going. The more I cried the more I couldn't hold it back. I cried so hard it hurt. I went through more tissues and flipped my pillow more times than I can count. I was crying for both of my children, for the daughter that is missing and for the son that is here right now, growing in my belly and yet I have missed out on the good parts. Even when I really tried to calm myself down (deep breathing and all), my body was still shaking, noise was still coming out and the tears kept falling. You know when a child gets themselves really worked up and the "after cry" after the big cry is still effecting their bodies and they just can't control it? That was what this was like. Brian was rubbing my back, talking sweetly to me and nothing would help. I don't know how long I cried, but I would say at least a couple hours.
Almost one week later, the tears have of course stopped, but I am still struggling. I got asked if I was excited the other day and it was as if someone had asked my weight, I just froze, kind of nodded up and down, then a little side to side.
I want to be excited, I crave it. I truly just don't know how. I really can't picture this little boy coming home with us. I don't believe he is really going to be born alive and healthy and that everything will just "work out this time", if it didn't with Addison, why would it this time? I'm not in a hurry to do any of the things I did before before because they don't feel necessary. I don't feel over half way there.
When I was pregnant with Addison I would see other pregnant women and feel an instant connection with them. Our eyes would meet, we would give each other an all knowing smile and go about our business. This time I avoid pregnant women like the plague. I see one and I hate them. I hate that they are experiencing the joy I can't. I avoid eye contact at all costs, thinking they don't understand, they don't get me and we are not connected. I miss that connection. I also used to love getting asked about my pregnancy and now I hate it. My eyes don't light up when asked, if anything they dim in fear of the "is this your first" question also I automatically assume they think I don't want this baby when I don't gush over the pregnancy...trust me people wanting this baby doesn't even begin to sum it!
Just when I think I have figured out all the things stillbirth has stolen from me, there is always something else. I knew this pregnancy would be hard, but to know it's almost over and I may not enjoy any of it...well the price I have payed to stillbirth just keeps increasing. This wasn't the life I planned to live, it's not fair and I hate it.
So that's what has been going on. I'm in search of the joy, hoping desperately to find it. I know I love this baby, I know the joy is there buried somewhere under the mounds of grief and fear. I just have to keep searching for it. I just hope I can find it sooner rather than later because I am tired of missing out.