Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dual Nature

Sometimes I feel as if I'm living a completely fractured existence. Don't get me wrong - on the whole, overall, I'm in a far better place than I was a month ago, let alone two months ago. I feel, generally, much more peaceful and calm and content with life.

Which makes it all the more surprising when a thought leaps up, seemingly out of nowhere and reminds me of my membership in the Dead Baby Club. It's especially odd because often it takes me awhile to realize just how fractured it all is.

An example:

DH and I were discussing recently whether or not we wanted to try to conceive before the New Year (our original plans) in light of Dr. B's statements that we could try as soon as the tests were complete (this was obviously before yesterday's news). As we talked, we discussed the advantages and disadvantages to trying again so quickly. And my thoughts went sort of like this:

Well, the doctor isn't going to lead us astray. If she says it is ok to go ahead, even before four - six months have elapsed, then we should be able to trust that. And of course, we'll have the tests done, and that's good as well. Of course, if I lost more weight, then when we lose the next one, I won't have to wonder if being obese contributed to the loss.

Another conversation that took place inside my head as some friends and I were discussing one friend's cousin. This cousin recently found out she is carrying a second girl and not the boy they wanted. She has taken up dangerous behaviors like smoking and drinking because she says she doesn't care about this baby anymore. There are two parts to this discussion - one, the talk about desiring one sex over another and feeling disappointment if the sex you get is not the sex you hoped for and two, this person's specific reactions, including dangerous behavior and willful endangerment of her child. My thoughts went like this:

I completely understand being disappointed to some extent by finding out the sex of the baby, if you have a preference or felt strongly. By the time we knew Gabe was a boy, I was excited, but when I first heard that he might be a boy, I was totally deflated because I'd been so sure he was a girl. So I definitely understand the disappointment. On the other hand, I have absolutely zero preference now. There are reasons I want a son - I feel that I was cheated out of raising mine and I crave that experience so deeply now that my previous fears of raising a boy are completely and utterly ridiculous and my reasons for wanting a girl seem so superficial. In fact, the only reason I'd want a girl at all is to hope it would feel more reassuring and like a fresh start, and because a girl would be less likely to live in the shadow of her dead older baby brother.

Also - these people getting so freaking worked up and disappointed? I mean, I get it and all, but for fuck's sake. You have a healthy, living child. Having a boy or girl when you wanted the other is hardly a tragedy. You want tragedy? Try holding your baby in one hand, because they can fit, and get back to me. You have no idea how close to real tragedy and insanity you walk everyday, no idea how close to the edge you really are. Try and show a little fucking gratitude.

And it just flies through my head and I find myself shocked, because I really do understand the disappointment and the necessity for adjustment. And because I don't think that you truly get to make those kinds of comparisons and judgments. I never realized that that sort of thought was buried in me with Gabriel until it flew through as calm as any other thought.

And when we talk about ttc? And I think about another baby? These are actual thoughts, word for word that I've had and that I've said to my husband and only later though "Er, that's probably not normal. I should probably bring this up with the therapist next week." Thoughts like these:

"There is no sense in waiting on the shg. I mean, of course, it would be good to know for certain there are no structural anomalies, or scar tissues or something that could cause implantation in a funky spot. But really? That's just the illusion of control. Whatever is going to happen with the next pregnancy will happen, whether I have the shg beforehand or not. If it's not a structural thing resulting in previa, bleeding, IUGR, it'll probably be a cord accident or a high blood pressure issue or something totally random during delivery that takes the next one. Why pretend we have any control? Might as well give it a shot, because it's not like waiting does anything other than get our hopes up."

"When we get pregnant again, I need to make sure to keep one of the cameras in my purse with spare batteries at all times. That way, when we lose the next one, we'll know for certain that we can get pictures. Maybe I should knit a small hat or something, so we don't have to use hats that are too big next time. Oh, I should be sure to request handprints. I'm sad we don't have Gabriel's handprints."

"Will we try and keep the sex a surprise next time? I really liked that, but no one will believe that we don't know it, with fifty million ultrasounds. And it would be better for them to get to know that baby in case it dies. Because I don't think Gabriel is real to most people at all. They didn't know him, didn't hear his heartbeat like we did - oh, yes, we'll need more doppler gel, we liked listening to Gabe's heart and will want to do that again - didn't see his pictures, didn't know he was a boy or what his name was. I liked the idea of a surprise, but hell, at this point, a living baby we get to take home would be a surprise."

"I never fully understood people who played fast and loose with the 'dead baby card' and argued in favor of a bunch of unnecessary medical interventions (that are proven in multiple studies to be unhelpful for normal mothers) that often led to c-section to protect themselves. But if Dr. B wants me to schedule a c-section the day after a viable heartbeat, I'll seriously consider it."

And yet, at the same time, I am generally feeling positive. I feel good about our chances for another pregnancy, I feel good about the monitoring we'll be receiving, I feel good about this doctor, I feel good about this hospital, I feel like we have a good shot at a good outcome.

That hopefulness exists side by side with this sense of fatality and irreversibly bad outcome, and they both feel completely natural to me. As natural as breathing or considering the Spurs odds of beating the Mavs without Tony and Tim (I bet on them to win, and they did. In fact they exceeded my expectations for point difference). It's like I completely accept that there are dual natures warring withing me and that it is how one lives one's life After. It's so bizarre to actually contemplate, but there you are. They fit so neatly in there together I barely notice anymore.


Cristin said...

"You have no idea how close to real tragedy and insanity you walk everyday, no idea how close to the edge you really are." you really nailed it with that. i look at all the pregnant women i see now and wonder if they can possibly know just how close to the edge they walk. i found myself nodding in agreement alot as i read your post tonight.
just wanted you to know.

Anonymous said...

i'm new to your blog and i'd just like to say i am absolutely in love with you (that's right, i said it!)

i lost a son too and find a ridiculous amount of comfort in your words.

just wanted to introduce myself now (HI, i'm julie!), because you'll be hearing from a lot.