no place on earth for me

This pregnancy is liberty. As I listen to the galloping horses of baby’s heart, my hatred dissipates and the blackened part of my soul gives way to fresh pink tissue. And it’s so fucking fragile I barely dare to move, choosing instead to spend my days trembling and at home where all I need is within reach. The fever is breaking. I might be all right.

Infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss almost brought me to perdition. No matter what the fate of this dear little baby, that part of my life ends here. I’m not afraid of being childless; well, I’m apprehensive to be sure, but it no longer the bone chilling prospect it once was. So I observe the changes in my body from a detached perspective, marveling at all the things it does when it never did much of anything during my previous pregnancies.

It’s a grey morning and I am deliciously sleepy. Lately I feel more and more like a normal pregnant lady. I can’t go sit in my OB’s waiting room and scowl at the rounded bellies of the other patients because I am one of them now, no longer scrawny and out of place.

It’s a trap, the chorus chortles. The universe will turn on you like it always does.

But what if it doesn’t?

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slippery

The sun reminds me why I stay in this blighted little town; it really is gorgeous and for most of my time here I’ve not minded the rainy winters. On a day like this the possibility of sliding right back into a world in which I’ve never done well seems not only appealing, but natural and easy. I remember going to school here long ago, how I struggled to make friends and everybody hated me. The years I’ve spent in recovery, learning the basics of social behavior and how I was still barely holding on…everyone always thinks I’m a horrible bitch, and in truth I have done horribly bitchy things.

I have been bitter for so long but I feel like things are suddenly different. What is going to happen to me? I cant imagine how painful it would be to lose this baby now, after everything. Would they be able to medicate me back from oblivion?

I have a monthly prenatal check on Thursday, where I can schedule my anatomy scan. They’re only five minutes long, it says it on the paper they gave me. Next week I have an regular ultrasound, which I’m getting anxious about already even though I think it’s probably unnecessary. I also have an appointment with my psychiatric obstetrician on Aug. 1.

Life keeps moving. I think I’m doing fine.

**********

Here’s my weekly messy bathroom selfie:

I am going to be huge.

the beach is burning

I pull the summer heat around me and hold it close. The eternal shivers of a hard-knock life slide off my sweaty skin that becomes browned and darker no matter how much Coppertone Sport I rub into my skin. My little cat sticks to my bare legs.

With the luxury of a little time passing, I can look back on the last three and a half years as a love story. Throughout the turmoil, I’ve woken every morning with Geoff beside me. He’s been steadfast and almost maternal in his soothing of my nerves. I do not think I’d have made it without his ministrations.

I rest my hand on my belly. Baby is still ticking along, heartbeat like galloping horses. No matter the outcome, I’ll always have these summer days. After years of skeptical anticipation, I will turn forty on Friday so I have been doing a lot of thinking about my own mortality but already I sense the day will be anticlimactic and dull.

**********

No matter how cautious I am, it’s far too easy to forget the winter. Here I am on my patio, the slight breeze soft and tender on my bare arms and legs. My belly is growing rounder and at sixteen weeks I am already impatient to feel my baby move, despite backlogged worries about my medications causing birth defects. I’ve been in the best of moods (probably due to the last dosage increase of Paxil)…

I can’t forget where I came from. There’s still a big hurt inside me, three years of trying to conceive and one by one losing each baby I was blessed with. And tracing the hurt back…in the bright sun, the scars I inflicted on my body in my youth are white and gnarled. I’m not the type of person for whom things end up well.

I can’t let go yet. I have to be vigilant. Things change so quickly.

We still haven’t told our families. I know my dad will be happy, but my mom just won’t. I want to wait until after my anatomy scan to tell her. I know she’ll say I’ll lose this baby like I have the others, and having learned things the hard way with Molly, I want to have the best amount possible of testing that prove things are progressing well. I don’t want her to have any arguments to make.

I think Geoff’s family will be happy. I hope.

Meanwhile…Geoff and I visited our friends (the only two people in town that we have told. They live way out in the sticks and have a goat and miniature cows.

birth defects

When I was twelve weeks pregnant with Molly, we went to the MFM for a routine NT scan. I remember being so happy to see her on the ultrasound screen before I noticed the tech acting suspiciously. What’s the measurement? I demanded. She demurred. What is it? I repeated.

It was 10 mm. Molly had a 10 mm cystic hygroma…

She also had the beginnings of hydrops fetalis…

These defects pointed to chromosomal abnormality. Geoff and I were beside ourselves. We didn’t know what to do. Molly also had a heart defect visible at the time. We opted to do an amniocentesis at 16 weeks, which would diagnose a chromosomal problem definitively.

I am now a day shy of sixteen weeks. Memories have been flooding my head; I have become hypervigilant. I have the good results from the NIPT but there is still a lot of fear. I did ask for an NT scan as well, but my OB said it wasn’t necessary. It may not be necessary, but it would have been tremendously reassuring.

I hate The Baby Factory. My OB had said I could have an early anatomy scan, but the nurse just scheduled for a regular scan at the office, so I’m left wondering if I’m crazy and just made up the conversation with my doctor in my head. Whatever, I’ll wait until twenty weeks. Ugh.

all the little things

The air is an ocean to swim through; I move through it slowly and muffled sounds are all that reach my ears. This is only a dream, the chorus shouts. I rest a moment on the bed, checking baby’s heartbeat and breathing relief when I hear him tick. For now, he is mine and he is safe.

A whole week to my next prenatal check, where I will schedule my anatomy scan. A thousand worries flit through my head. I’m not sure I can survive a second tfmr. I don’t believe in God but I pray for mercy all the same.

*********

snippets

Here I am on a Wednesday morning, eyes still heavy with sleep and I’m thinking that at during the last few weeks my entire world has shifted gradually and then all at once…

I have new worries. Yes, I’m still terrified of miscarriage and even worse, a second tfmr — but these days a huge portion of my headspace is dedicated to how the fuck are we going to afford this baby?

Last weekend, we told some friends we were expecting. We kind of had to, as I am suddenly looking like a real pregnant lady. I plan to tell my family, but not until a clean anatomy scan. No pressure. I think Geoff will want to tell his family sooner, but they are less crazy than my own mom and dad.

I’m increasingly uncomfortable with my new body. Just months ago I was wiggling into size 26 high waisted skinny jeans but these days pants are not my friend. I’m incredibly self-conscious about my suddenly huge boobs. Another reason not to go out.

I am having a lot of trouble with my writing. I swear, Lamictal makes me stupid. I have a hard time remembering words and meanings when I take it. I dropped 25mg off my dose…we’ll see if that helps.

Fifteen weeks

early morning, wondering

It is three in the morning and I am half dozing, the cool air from the fan provoking goosebumps on the suddenly blotchy flesh of my arm. My little cat leaps onto the bed, then to the dresser before diving through the cheap mini blinds and onto the windowsill. Despite heavy eyelids, I am reading pregnancy message boards and marveling at the lives of fertile people.

What would it be like to just assume a second pink line on a home pregnancy test meant you’d be bringing a baby home approximately thirty-six weeks later? To talk about the baby without being terrified of jinxing yourself, like that’s a real thing? To say things like, next time we won’t tell anyone the names we picked?

Next time?!?! Aren’t you ballsy?

There won’t be a next time for me. In twenty-one days, I will be forty and maybe I’m weak-willed but I cannot go through another loss without having to face the very real fear that I may harm myself. I can’t describe the cumulative effect of loss after loss after loss to anyone who has not experienced recurrent pregnancy loss, the months and years of bfns to anyone unfamiliar with infertility. But the last three and a half years have been fucking brutal.

They amuse me, these “normies” who conceive easily and automatically carry to term. I have suddenly found myself in their world, a foreigner, the xeno in their own unique brand of xenophobia. They regard me with suspicion; me, with my messy and convoluted history of five miscarriages and a fucking tfmr in the second tri. If I have a healthy baby, will the world take me back?

Remains to be seen.

quick thought…

It is a quiet morning. I am in my rocking chair by the window, daydreaming about a better life. I am on Scruffy’s back, no reins or saddle, completely at his mercy as he canters down an unfamiliar path. I’ve always loved being pregnant but have never been this far without bad news.

Now the worry creeps in. Worry du jour is that my medication has caused birth defects. There’s always a risk, and this was one I took deliberately but again, I’ve never been this far, far enough to start fretting about what a level two ultrasound will show. I push it all to the back of my mind. I want to keep up the exhilaration of flight even though the chorus is screaming at me to be wary.

Stfu.

I know I’ve been slack about posting. There is a lot going on in my head and Scruffy has run away with me and I can’t dismount — I cannot help but wonder what it would be like to hold baby in my arms. This baby. This dream.

mourning and celebration

Three and a half years ago, the world loosened its grip on me and sent me spinning through space and time, and the only thing tethering me to this planet was my devoted husband Geoff. I’ve had many days during which I prayed for this life to let me go, to send me into free fall, to deliver me to a better place where I could be with my lost babies. But I underestimated my tenacity. I kept going. So here I am with everything I always wanted and it’s unbelievable and stomach-churning awkward and marvelous…

But how long can this last? I think of Molly constantly. I think of how badly I wanted to hold her. Baby J’s heartbeat sounds just like hers did and I remember how strong and vital it rang, despite her having major heart defects. Her ghost still flits about the apartment and on occasion I see a whip of straight black hair just outside my line of vision.

I wonder if this terrible sadness will ever relax its vise-like grip on my heart. She still occupies my body, but so does our new baby. I worry that my grief will consume us all, even now in this time of great hope.

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bravery

The chorus has been with me since I was a young girl navigating the vicissitudes of a suburban childhood, all the way up to and through my present day life as a loss mom who has stumbled upon what appears to be her wildest dream. What is the nature of madness? people ask me. My eyes wander as I contemplate the planes that make up visual space. I’m not a regular girl; I’m a itty bit stranger.

My mood is tanking. The unfettered and obsessive worries of the first trimester have made way for flattened affect and spiralling darkness. I find myself overwhelmed by the enormity of lifestyle changes, changes made despite uncertainty, no guarantee of a baby to hold in my arms. The chorus chortles gleefully as I lay prone on the bed. Why do you even bother? Your babies just die.

I navigate the world like I’ve been blinded by the infrequent sun, feeling my way around my apartment with tingling fingertips in a suddenly chaotic environment. My emotions are for the most part muted; I believe that right now I am overmedicated but it seems to be the lesser of two evils (the other being a state of sheer panic and terror of this new life I’ve stumbled into). Still, there’s a horrible anguish as this pregnancy harkens back to the days I spent with Molly. I cry a lot when I’m alone. I never believed in afterlife, heaven, angels — now, with six dead babies I am forced to. It’s an uncomfortable alliance with the spiritual realm, because for three long and dreary years I have prayed only for death, to be with my babies.

If I have this baby, will the world take me back? I fear I will stumble, make some sort of tragic mistake, but I think it will.