courageous

It’s a slippery and elusive Saturday. Today I am fourteen weeks and in the second trimester. It feels so artificial, more so than the wildest hallucination I’ve ever had. My hands are warm against my belly as I savor the affection and love I have for this little baby. I’m totally attached. It will rend my heart if I have to let go.

I scheduled my 17 week scan for the end of July. Apprehension grips me. Just having an ultrasound on the calendar makes me shake and shudder, no matter how far off it is. I hate them so fucking much. I am terrified that they will find defects and abnormalities, perhaps caused by my medication. I wanted to see my psychiatric obstetrician before this scan for some reassurance, but of course that didn’t work out and I can’t get in to see her until August. My regular psych claims my medication is safe, but I don’t trust her. Please let him be okay. A whispered prayer to whom God only knows.

The scariest thing is that I’m walking around acting like I’m having a baby. I’ve never gotten this big before (as my therapist points out at least three times a session), and I’ve bought new clothes to accommodate this belly. Since Molly died, my most successful pregnancy has lasted only nine weeks.

I’m waiting for the wrath of the heavens to rain down upon me for my arrogance. I put on my Huggy Bear record and revel at the youthful snottiness. The gods have surely been angered, my bratty attitude a jinx. Panic, panic, chants the chorus. And like a marionette, I follow their commands.

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loose ends

I won my squabble with the nurses. I get my 17 week scan for glaring defects and abnormalities, and the full anatomy scan at 20 weeks. They finally actually spoke with my doctor, after much haranguing and bitchiness. I don’t like myself when I have to talk to nurses. I wish I could do it less often.

So now to begin worrying about abnormalities…

If baby can just hang out until tomorrow, I will be in my second trimester. Everything is fuzzy and indistinct. This can’t be me, I think for the eight millionth time. The chorus chortles, reminding me about the scan for defects. Cystic hygroma, hydrops, omphalocele, lethal skeletal dysplasia, anencephaly…

I have spoken with to many tfmr moms. I know so many things that can go wrong. But for now, it’s me and little baby…

xx

The barricade of nurses that keep my OB out of reach at The Baby Factory are starting to really frustrate me. At my last appointment, my doctor said I could have an early anatomy scan at 17 weeks, and repeat at 20. However, she apparently didn’t note that in my file. The nurses say it will be too early to see anything at a 17 week scan so my doctor wouldn’t have said that. I know it’s too early to do a full scan, but birth defects could be visible — Molly’s cystic hygroma and hydrops fetalis were initially seen at a level 2 ultrasound at 12 weeks and had worsened on a 16 week level 2 scan.

Of course, my doctor isn’t in today. But she did say that. And they’re making me feel like I just made that all up in my head. Believe me, the last thing I want to do is walk into the Maternal-Fetal Medicine clinic and have another level 2 ultrasound. But it has to be done. And the nurses said if I had questions, I had to wait until my 16 week check up to ask them, and wait to be scheduled then.

I cannot wait until I never have to go back to The Baby Factory again. But whatever. If they make me wait, I’ll fucking wait. I just hate feeling like I’m crazy with a made up reality. Am I crazy? Did that really happen? I have a psychotic disorder, am I getting sick again? Making things worse is that Geoff doesn’t remember what was said.

I hate having reality problems.

My little cat is deadweight in my lap and I pull him close. Even when I’m not pregnant, I have high anxiety days and this is one of them. I lay on the couch and try to do my breathing exercises, resting my hands on my swollen belly as Sarah Dougher sings about summer. Everything seems unreal to me these days.

summer

Life has settled into a weird sort of banality, devoid of the emergencies and pharmaceutical torment that have marred my days for so long now. Instead of chaos, there is a peaceful rhythm and I find myself breathless as night gives way to day. I am up with the sun and visit with Baby J in the early morning hours. I still cannot believe this is me.

Everything is still a secret. I don’t go out much, fearing a run-in with someone I know because i am visibly pregnant at 13 weeks. Which is strange to me, but whatever. I haven’t breathed a word to my family in Massachusetts. My mom seems extra exasperated at me for reasons unknown. My dad called last night to ask what was wrong. I think I’ve been acting suspicious on the phone, so I dread calling them to check in. Geoff has yet to tell his parents, but he’s not the greatest at keeping secrets. I kind of want to wait until viability but that pushes us out to September. Maybe after my early anatomy scan. Maybe.

If I tell my mom and she says I’ll just lose the baby again, I want to be able to say we’ve done the testing. I don’t want to hear her say I told you so.

I am stuck home today, waiting for the maintenance guy to come fix my fridge. I still have moments when I’m just bowled over by fears and worries. I think back to the night I got a positive pregnancy test and it feels like a lifetime ago — how surprised I was to see a second pink line glowing at me after my ill-advised course of Femara as I bled out an early miscarriage. I remember the terror of the unexplained bleeding in very early pregnancy. But all the emergencies are confined to the past.

I trudge through my daily life but everything is different now. My joy is tempered with trepidation as expected, but everything is different.

breathe.

I’ve spent the weekend locked up in my head, trying to extend myself into an uncertain future and feel around for something solid. The stakes are high — I’m either having a baby, or I will end up with nothing because I cannot put myself through this again. And I’ve established an intimate relationship with failure and have come face to face with childlessness, but I can’t stop hoping that I’ll prevail here, at the very last fucking minute. Please let him be okay. And the universe answers, galloping horses ring from my Doppler, and I breathe a sigh of relief.

There are still thousands of things to worry about. My anxiety is all consuming and eats at my heart. In another dimension, in a parallel universe, a version of me is still sittingc in the exam room smiling back at my doctor as she congratulates us. You guys have been waiting a long time for this, she says. No fucking shit it’s been a long time, a hard road. No fucking shit.

***********

brief glimpse

It’s an oppressively grey day in Olympia and amid the mist, I am shining. Geoff has gone off to work but not before gracing me with his old relaxed smile, the one I recall from when we were dating. Is this really real? The rhythm of life is at once familiar and long forgotten, but we slip back into it easily. The scourge of bad news is momentarily behind us.

There are still things for me to worry about. I dread waiting for my anatomy scan, although I’m grateful to be gifted an early peek at Baby J. I could probably work myself up into a frenzy just thinking about the what-ifs associated with taking multiple psychotropic medications and a whopping dose of Geodon. My psychiatrist said that it was safe, but I don’t trust her as far as I could throw her even if I do have her consulting with a specialist in psychiatric medicine during pregnancy.

I’ll worry about this later, I tell myself. For now, things are warm and light.

asking the universe

Please let him be okay. It’s three in the morning and the electricity in my head is overwhelming as the bad thoughts zing along my neural pathways. I’ve spent the last years after losing Molly with nothing to lose, and all of the sudden once again I have everything. The clocks hum along, bringing me closer to fate. I cannot sleep. I never sleep.

***********

He’s okay. We heard his heartbeat — I haven’t heard a baby’s heartbeat since I was pregnant with Molly. It was magical.

Doctor is having me come in for heartbeat checks every two weeks. If I can find the heartbeat on my home Doppler, maybe I can just be a “normal” patient that comes once a month. She wants me to have an early anatomy scan at 17 weeks, repeat around 20 weeks. This is all fine by me.

I can’t believe I’m here right now. Is this real? Could this be real?

***********

Despite my wrecked nerves, I managed a much needed nap. I had been up since 2am soothing my little cat and fretting about the appointment. I have to admit to feeling a bit giddy — I tend to be a total nihilist, so it’s not a state I find myself in often. Whatever. It is what it is.

I did find baby’s heartbeat on my home doppler. I found it right away and it’s amazing. This should cut down on some of my anxiety so I’m fairly pleased.

I still can’t believe I’m still going. In exactly one month, I will be turning forty. When I was this far along with Molly, we already knew she had major defects and were contemplating tfmr. That was three fucking years ago. Three miserable fucking years.

superstitious hyperrealist

A strange and unfamiliar calm has descended upon me. My shoulders still ache from carrying the weight of unadulterated anxiety, my back feels weak from the force of pride, and there is a terrible pounding in my head but I am confident in a way I haven’t been for so very long. The universe isn’t making hex signs. For this brief moment, i am okay.

I have my OB appointment in a little over twenty-four hours. Tomorrow morning, I will gather up my broken pieces and slap them on my mangled frame to go out into the world, to The Baby Factory where I have lost so many beautiful things and lay my body on the line for examination. I want to ask them not to do anything or talk about anything until they check to see if Baby J is all right. Maybe he won’t be. Maybe I will leave in tears as I so often do, go home with nothing but a shattered heart. It’s not as if I haven’t contemplated each and every tragedy that may befall me. With my history, you have to expect horrors and nightmares, the sudden impact of a train that nails you in the back while you are listening to fight music with all your head and soul.

It is a sunny Tuesday morning and I have an appointment with my therapist. I never know what to talk about these days. The sense of loss I’ve developed over six prior pregnancies is so all pervasive that I fumble over words I’ve said a thousand times. Always has my story been the same, and I’m self conscious of being boring in talking about fears that are second nature to me (and her) these days. What do I do with a strange and unfamiliar sense of calm? I dress quickly in new maternity clothes that probably have jinxed me the moment I brought them home. They are only slightly baggy. I’m already a whale.

Geoff leaves for work and the house is silent save for the quiet hum of the fridge. I know the hours will stretch out until they seem infinite or at least indefinite. I sip on my coconut water, grab a pen and notebook, and dream.

**********

Messy bathroom selfie, 12 weeks

***

it’s all in the telling.

Everything is too good to be true. It’s a quiet Monday morning and I am here on my couch sipping coffee while my little cat snoozes and Geoff gets ready for work. I’ve caught up a bit on sleep, and we saw a good friend this past weekend. I am somewhat content. But it’s all so fucking fragile.

There are forty-eight hours until my first OB appointment. I don’t do well with waiting. Also, I’ve only ever seen my OB when I’ve had losses, which is all the time. How can I hope this time will be different?

The friend we saw is ninety-one years old. Seven years ago, he was the one who convinced me to leave my then-boyfriend for Geoff. These days, he’s living with another friend of ours, a woman that is taking care of him because there’s no one else. It was good to see him. We wanted to tell him I am pregnant but I chickened out. Maybe if our appointment goes well. But, being me, I can’t see that even happening. Three years ago, we had to tell everyone that Molly had passed. I’m so scared of having to “un-tell” everyone again. We’ve been silent about all our subsequent pregnancies.

My parents know about Molly, and I’ve told them about a couple of my miscarriages in retrospect. I want to tell them now, but my mom hasn’t been particularly supportive. I want them to be happy for me, but I’m not sure they will. Geoff wants to tell his parents, so out of fairness I should move forward…

But what if Baby J is dead?

I feel like I’m jinxing myself just by hoping, just by thinking and speaking and writing and being. I am bringing down the wrath of the heavens just by acknowledging I’m pregnant.

**********

Mary I can’t help more than I do. I don’t have enough love left for you.

It’s very strange having a mother that isn’t ever happy for you. My mom wasn’t happy when I told her I was getting married, although she loves Geoff now. When I told her I was pregnant with Molly, she said:

“I don’t want you to get too excited.”

It’s very odd knowing that she was happy that my pregnancies didn’t work out. WTF, mom? I know she gets very anxious, but so do I. She is not going to be happy when I tell her I’m expecting again. And I don’t know if I’m ready to tell her.

Geoff wants to tell his family. He already told his brother. I want him to he able to celebrate; he’s happy. And it looks like his parents will need to know so they can plan travel. And I want them to know as well. And I want my dad to know. Originally, I didn’t want to tell anyone at all until viability, but that’s brings us into September and seems unfair.

Ugh. I love my mom, but she seems so ambivalent about me.

once upon what.

It’s a Sunday morning and I can feel the panic rising, even as sun spills into my room from between the battered slats of the blinds. I barely slept last night, and woke up shivering in anticipation of my appointment on Wednesday, already with the dull ache of worry gnawing away at my gut. Please let him be okay, I whisper.

My entire pelvic region is tingling and cramping, just like it did before my last scan. I can’t tell if it’s all in my head, or real. Is any of this real? The past three years flash by my eyes, with their blurry vision, and I find myself breathless. Even if my little boy sticks around, I suspect I will never be the same as I was before all this loss and these horrible months of grief. Is it over? Please tell me it’s over, I whisper.

We will take this one too, the chorus chortles. I flinch, knocked around by how painful the thought is.

The sun is relentless. Scruffy is out in the courtyard grazing, his silken mane and tail in braids, eyes never leaving me as he shakes his head and snorts. I am transfixed by his majesty. But I am also tired. Tired of the bad news, and too weary to enjoy the good. What do you want for me, Scruffy?

The universe is spinning, what does the future hold? I am so tired I feel like I’m going to puke, so nervous my insides are liquid and sliding all around.