Between a Rock and a Hard Place

A couple of days ago, I received an invite to my nephew’s first birthday party.

Initially, I was shocked.  I could not wrap my head around the idea that he was already almost a year old!  Originally, he and Brock were only supposed to be 10 weeks apart, but he decided to arrive early where Brock chose to arrive late, and a 10 week gap turned into a 16 week one.  When I then realized that Brock would have celebrated 8 months of life yesterday (if he had survived, that is) and I did the math, I realized that, yes, it made sense.

Then dread and doubt crept in almost immediately.  I have been highly conflicted for the last few days about what course of action I should take, trying to decide between doing the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ things.  Most of me – the logical center – is telling me I need to go to this party.  I haven’t seen my nephew in 4 months, and I am afraid that, in the future, I’m going to look back on his youth and feel guilty about everything I missed on account of my own emotional strife.

The other part of me is all but certain that, emotionally, I can’t handle it.  As much as I would love to go to the party and be all smiles and cheer like everyone else, I know that it won’t happen.  They’re just too close, and I see too much of Brock in my nephew.  Every time I see him, I am reminded of how excited I was at the prospect that they would be able to grow up together – because, at the time, I was blissfully unaware that babies ever died.  Since we lost Brock, I feel like there’s something missing from the picture every time I see my nephew.  There’s supposed to be two babies, but instead, there’s only one.

Just how upset would I be?  That I’m not sure of.  I might be able to observe quietly without having any meltdowns, or I might completely lose my marbles and spend the whole party crying in the guest room upstairs.  In either case, I am doubtful that they will understand.  If I manage to keep my emotions in check, they won’t realize how hard even that is for me, and I’m going to be so busy trying not to have a meltdown that I’m not going to enjoy myself on any capacity.  If I lose it, not only am I going to feel awful and embarrassed for taking away from their happy event, they’re still not likely to understand why I would have reacted in that way.  I wouldn’t want them to understand, either, but in either case, I’d feel like a terrible person just for trying to deal with my own emotions.

I don’t think that my brother-in-law and his fiancee are cold people or anything, but I do find they are particularly emotionally distant when it comes to us losing Brock.  I can’t judge because I’d probably be pretty detached too if the situations were reversed, and I am legitimately glad that they don’t understand what we are going through.  At the same time, sometimes I really do wish that people understood when situations were exceptionally difficult for me so I wouldn’t feel quite so guilty when I don’t handle things the way that I am expected to.

With all that said, I’ve decided that I can’t attend the party.  As much as I would love to pretend that I am a bigger, stronger person than I am, and give people the impression that I can handle tough stuff like it’s no big deal, I also realize that I need to worry about myself first, and, sadly, I’m just not able to handle this sort of thing – not yet.  The possible outcomes I see all fall on a spectrum somewhere between ‘bad’ and ‘catastrophically awful’.  I am afraid that they will be disappointed, and maybe even offended, that I’m not going to be there, but the sad truth of it is that I can’t explain why I can’t be there in a way that they will understand, nor can I begrudge them for not understanding.  I can only hope that they are able to see the same logic – that just because I can’t explain it to them doesn’t make my feelings any less valid – and that they realize it’s nothing against them or their son.  I might have tried to attend (even if only for a short while) if the event were held locally, but since they live a long way away from us, I can’t justify three hours of driving to pop in for half an hour before getting overwhelmed.

As if losing a child weren’t enough… I now need to proceed forward with the worry that every decision I make is potentially going to offend or anger people.  I can’t handle more than I can handle, though.  I hope they will understand. 😦

Movement

On the majority of days, I think I avoid thinking about the fact that I am pregnant at all.  It just doesn’t come to mind for some reason.

Maybe it’s a defense mechanism, and I’m just subconsciously keeping myself from thinking about it to protect myself from further possible heartache, but honestly, I just feel like I am so preoccupied with other things that I fail to think it’s important to think about a lot… until, of course, I start wondering why I’m not holding a Mojito at this particular moment, or I suffer such an intense bout of back pain that I wonder what I did to deserve this.  Even having all day to look at my obviously pregnant belly doesn’t really make it click very often.

Until recently, at any rate.  Lately it’s been a bit more prominent of a thought because I have started to get semi-regular movement over the last few days.  I think I first noticed movement around 19 weeks, when I was laying quietly in bed, hands on my belly, and really looking for it.  I noticed the lightest series of taps on my right side after a few minutes.  I’m now 22 weeks, and it has become much more obvious in the last week and a half or so.  Some of his rolls and jabs are even painful now – already – which leaves me wondering how I ever made it to 24 weeks with Brock without feeling him once.  This baby is measuring a little bit ahead, but Brock was as well, so I’m not sure what to make of that.  I guess it’s just easier to notice and feel the second time around when you’re already broken in a bit.

How do I feel about getting movement?  It’s really hard to say.  It’s bittersweet, first and foremost.  Before, even when I was doing things for him, like shopping for a crib or working on tidying up the nursery-to-be, it was easy to not think about the fact that he was there (is there).  It kind of just felt like going through the motions.  Now, though?  I have to come to terms with the fact that, probably very soon, I’m going to be getting very constant reminders of his presence… and every time I think about him, it brings a lot of tough emotions.  It reminds me that I’m going to be a mother again soon, and all the things that I should, but don’t, know about having a baby… because I was robbed of the first one.

And all these constant reminders just serve to frustrate me because I know all too well that just because I’m 22 weeks along and getting movement doesn’t necessarily mean I am getting my take-home baby this time, either.  Heck, I know that hitting 40 weeks doesn’t guarantee a baby.  There is always time and room for things to go wrong all over again.  I don’t exactly think that they will, but even the fact that there is that room for error stresses me right out.  I really miss having my pregnancy innocence, and being able to pretend that things never go wrong.  A loss is never not terrible, but I am particularly irritated that my first pregnancy had to end in a full-term loss because I will never be able to enjoy a pregnancy again.

Anyway, I haven’t posted a whole lot lately because I have been keeping the pregnancy at arm’s reach to keep my anxiety down.  I found I was coping better when I was not thinking about it that much, so I have been trying hard to keep busy with other things and not give myself the time to dwell on the harder stuff.  The one positive thing about this avoidance is that I have actually been delightfully productive lately; I have immersed myself in my volunteer work, am finally getting driving school done so I will have my G2 before the arrival of our second baby, have got lots of work done on the nursery (I’m just wrapping up the refinishing and painting of an old dresser that I salvaged for him), and, best of all,  I have finally written my final exam for high school, meaning that, when I get the marks, I’ll be able to apply for my high school diploma.  FINALLY!  I realize I’m a good 7 years late, but better late than never, right?

As if on cue – trying to force me to think about him – our dear sweet son has started kicking me in the back.  I thought I would be happy for the reassurance when this day came, but right now his jabs are still too sporadic and inconsistent for me to really track them, so I’m actually more just concerned that he will stop moving and I won’t notice.  After all, Brock stopping moving all at once was how my journey down this path began in the first place…

Scan Results, and Dealing with Difficult Feelings

Whoops – I was supposed to post over the weekend, wasn’t I?  I apologize for my tardiness, but I had a rather chaotic weekend, and, as it turns out, I had too much to say about our results to just make a quick post about it.  I decided to wait to write until I had a reasonable amount of time to ensure that I didn’t rush through it.  So, here I am.

I am finding more and more to like about my hospital as time goes on.  Sure, it sucks that it’s such a long trip and my husband keeps having to swap shifts at work to attend them with me (and every visit is $20 in parking and another $10+ in gas), but they treat us so well that it’s hard to be annoyed or upset by it.  It’s just money, after all, and you can’t put a price on a healthy baby and a safe pregnancy.  So, once again, my husband was allowed to sit in on the whole scan with me, and I was kept amused/at calm by chatting with him and watching him watch the screen.  I guess our baby was being an acrobat, because I kept seeing him smile at things that the baby was doing during the scan which gave me the impression that things were going well.  It was a long scan, taking nearly a full hour (and I was told to get up and walk around at one point to try and get them to move), but our tech eventually had all the pictures she needed and sent us back out to wait for the results.  Like our last tech, she was nice enough to leave a photo up for us to snap before we left.  It’s quite the beautiful profile, if you ask me (but I might be a tad biased).

Jellybean 19+1Another great thing about being at a high-risk clinic is that they process your results almost immediately.  Whereas I had to wait several weeks to discuss the results of my scan with my midwives the first time around, the results of this scan were processed and brought to us about 45 minutes later.  Our OB went over them and told us the news we were most hoping for: baby was looking perfectly healthy and happy, and we had no reason to suspect anything at all was wrong with him/her.  Woohoo!  With appointments concluded, we got a copy of our report (the gender was on the second page, which we hadn’t looked at yet) and headed home to do a gender reveal shoot with a friend of mine.

For our reveal, we decided we wanted to do something that was both a little bit silly and not too expensive.  I originally wanted to do a paint fight, but opted for the less-messy option of a silly string fight.  We gave my photographer friend the report with four cans of silly string (two pink and two blue) and told her to give us the correct colour of string to spray one another with.  It was a lot of fun.

Without further delay, here’s the reveal we posted on Facebook.  We’re excited to announce that we are expecting another boy!

Reveal Strip Final(Yes, that second shot is me hiding my face after being sprayed in the mouth.  Silly string does not taste great.)

Here’s where we move on to the difficult feelings part.

I wasn’t honest originally when I said that I had no hopes for the gender of this baby.  With both of my pregnancies, my husband and I have both been in agreement that we would really love a little girl – not that we wouldn’t be happy with a boy, but we both thought we’d have a blast with a girl.  While I’m not 100% on his motives (aside from the fact that little girls are adorable), I think that I mostly craved a girl because I wanted to draw a parallel between my baby and myself.  I had a crappy childhood and have been tomboyish for as long as I have been able to make the decision to be, and my inner girl has been fighting to get out for the last few years.  With it comes the desire to dress something up in cute little jelly sandals, frilly skirts, and pretty hair berets.  (Never mind that this is contradictory to my gender equality impulses… the heart wants what the heart wants.)  I also figured that, since I knew the types of experiences I would have liked to have in my childhood, I’d know how to give a girl a better upbringing than I had got.  I wasn’t so confident with a boy.

Anyway, my desire for a girl was even stronger this time around, because I had myself convinced that a girl would be easier to process because it would be a lot more different.  Not that I think it would be without its struggles, either, but I dread the heartache and sorrow that will inevitably come from putting a different little boy to sleep in the onesies and blankets that were meant for Brock.  We wouldn’t have bought a new stroller or bassinet or anything for this second child, so I’m sure those moments would still have stung regardless, but I’m now worried about how it’s going to feel to spend the first few months watching this boy use everything that was meant for his big brother.

There are lots of secondary fears, too.  Of the four families that make up my husband and I, two of them are extremely boy heavy (one on each side), one is pretty evenly split, and one favours girls a little bit.  I’m now battling concerns that we’re never going to end up getting a girl because, if all goes well (knock on wood), we’re only planning to have one more child after this one.  I suppose that the order of the children doesn’t matter so much, but I do really hope I get the opportunity to raise both genders at some point, and right now the odds aren’t looking to be in my favour.  At the same time, if it had been a girl, I’m sure I’d still be wondering if the next would be a boy, and worrying that my only chance to have a boy had passed with Brock, so there’s really no winning in this category: neither answer would really have pleased me.

I spent the first 24 hours or so after getting the news feeling really upset, and the main reason I felt upset was because I had the audacity to feel disappointed.  Our baby looked happy and healthy, and I knew that was the important takeaway and what I should be most concerned with – and it was – but I also have residual anxiety because I remembered being similarly, mildly disappointed when we found out Brock was a boy.  When we later lost him, I blamed myself for every bad thought or feeling I had ever had towards him, like somehow occasionally being a little disappointed by his gender or complaining about backaches made me lose him.  Now that I was having thoughts like that again, I was somehow convinced that my disappointment was going to find a way to kill this baby, too.  Not only was I sad, but I was anxious and upset with myself for daring to be anything but happy.

My advice to you, now that I’ve had some time to sort through my feelings?  Feel how you need to feel!  Don’t put yourself under unnecessary stress by believing ridiculous things like these.  If you feel sad, don’t repress it, and for goodness sakes, don’t feel bad about having feelings, even if they’re not the ones you wish they were.  Pregnancy after loss is a plenty scary and treacherous path without us adding artificial worries to it.  Complaining about a sore back, stretch marks, or feeling a little disappointment over the gender of your baby is never ever going to affect the outcome of your pregnancy, and even though I rationally know that, I still got hung up on it for a while.

I have mostly conquered my disappointment today (it was mild to begin with), and am having an easier time focusing on the good feelings today.  I am mostly relieved that everything is looking good, and even if I do have occasional lapses, I know that I have another 18+ weeks to work through any other feelings that might come up – and, of course, that I’m going to love the heck out of this baby when we meet, regardless of their genital configuration.  Gender doesn’t mean a whole lot of anything, anyway, in the long run. 🙂