The Terror of Pregnancy
When I was in Anchorage with Bre several months back, getting Maddi’s social security number, I picked up a couple pregnancy journals. The first one, I did it for Maddi all about my pregnancy with her. Ironically, I worked on most of hers during my pregnancy with Danny. Today, I started working on Danny’s.
It’s kind of funny how I found out I was pregnant. Bre and I had been living in an apartment together in Kenai. It was this really trippy, bomb-shelter, underground apartment. Tiny, studio apartment.
I had some pregnancy tests leftover from when I lost Jacey. And I don’t even know why we decided to take them, but we did. Probably because they had the droppers to put the pee on the test so it was kind of like a science experiment. I remember Bre saying something like to that effect.
We took the tests and left them in the bathroom. I don’t really remember what we did after that, but we got distracted. We ended up going on a walk down to paradisos and getting chicken wings, and later that evening, Bre went in the bathroom and next thing I know she calls out to the living room, “Umm… Sam? You know you’re pregnant, right?” I went in there and sure enough, my test was positive. I asked her “You sure that ones not yours?” and she just laughed at me and said “I’m sure.”
I don’t remember what went through my head. Shock? Maybe it was because I didn’t really think I was pregnant. I had logical reasons to suspect, but after what happened with Jacey, I was for sure there was something horribly wrong with me and that every little sign and symptom was just my imagination working overtime. After all, you can’t get pregnant so soon after losing a baby… can you?
I was filling out the journal, and the prompt was “When I found out I was pregnant, my first feeling was:” and I just stopped for a moment.
My first thought wasn’t even a thought. It was a swirling cloud of eighty thoughts hitting me all at once. I couldn’t even logically separate the thoughts or isolate them and figure out what I was feeling. All I was feeling was the emotion and feelings behind the thoughts. I couldn’t put words to them. I couldn’t say happy, sad, scared, excited. I was just feeling the intensity of it all instantaneously and simultaneously. It was all very confusing, and very frightening.
I feel guilty for that. Shouldn’t a mother-to-be’s first thoughts be something more special, or hell, even slightly less plural and a great deal less contradicting of each other? I felt guilty knowing that my first thought wasn’t something the typical response from elated new mothers. I felt guilty for not jumping for glee and exclaiming for everyone to hear “Oh my gosh! I’m going to be a mommy!”
I felt guilty because if I had to pick, my first thought was:
“What if this baby dies too?”
I never really thought of it like this. Not until today. Not until I started filling out my pregnancy book for Danny. I never made the connection before. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to, or maybe I just avoid thinking about it and so the obvious didn’t jump out at me like it could have? It’s hard to see something if you spend your life pretending its not there. The allegory of the cave.
When I filled out Maddi’s book, my answers were pretty simplistic. Happy, excited, typical expectant mother dribble. The only thing less than “a baby story” typical in Maddi’s book was that she wasn’t planned. But everything else was.
“We were so happy!” “I couldn’t wait to find out if you were a girl or a boy.” “Daddy and I wondered what you’d look like.” “I gained a lot of weight.” “Everyone was so happy.” “I fell in love with you when I saw you at the first ultrasound.” “I couldn’t wait to meet you face to face.”
As I continued filling out sections of Danny’s book, I kept seeing how vastly different my entries for him were compared to my entries in Maddi’s book. Maddi’s book was full of what I call, “sunshine and rainbow” statements. And with Danny’s… I may not have wrote them, but I realized that every positive feeling I had about the pregnancy, was shrouded in fear.
I wasn’t picking out names. I wasn’t ooh-ing and ahh-ing over all of the cute baby clothes. I wasn’t having planning special ways to share the joyous news. I wasn’t excitedly awaiting my first doctor’s appointment so I could catch my first precious glimpse of my baby on the ultrasound.
I was wondering if my baby would even get a legal name. I was wondering if I’d ever get a chance to put my baby in clothes. I was wondering how long I needed to hide my pregnancy until it was “safe” so I wouldn’t have to endure the heart-wrenching pain of explaining that my child died everytime someone unsuspectingly asked how the pregnancy was going. I was terrified of my first ultrasound because I was afraid they would tell my my baby was dead.
Everything I did terrified me. For even the simplest actions I took, I would rationalize and debate every possible consequence or reprecussion there could be. Making even the simplest decision was enough to throw me into tears because no matter what choice I made with anything, I was, in my mind, convinced that something horrible would happen. And no matter how healthily I lived, somehow, somethng would go wrong, and the end result would be the same.
I would have another dead baby.
It didn’t matter to me that I had Maddi, not for argument’s sake. The fact I had a healthy child and pregnancy in the past meant nothing. It wasn’t credible evidence in my arguments with myself. It was a fluke. Somehow something happened and I got lucky with her, but never again. The mindset I was in, was that I had only a one in a trillion chance of having a healthy baby. I hit it once with Maddi, and there was no way I could beat those odds a second time. I was doomed.
Only now, after filling out some of the sections of that book, do I realize how much I took for granted when I was pregnant with Maddi. I was “depressed” that they couldn’t tell me if she was a girl or boy at only 12 weeks. I was pouting about looking pudgy instead of pregnant. I don’t think that the thought that anythng could possibly go wrong with my baby or pregnancy even crossed my mind. The potential for something terrible happening wasn’t even on my radar. How naive and stupid I must have sounded. How naive and stupid I was. If only I had been aware of the terror pregnancy can truly bring.
Even now, I worry. I’m not pregnant, nor do I intend to become so for a while, but whenever I even entertain the thought of having another baby in the future, or daydream about it, I’m filled with fear. I want more children, more than anything in the world, but even if Dan were to tell me tonight, “Let’s try for another baby.” I don’t think I could. Even with as much as I bug him and whine and pout to him about how I want another baby… I don’t think I could go through with it. I’m so terrified of something going wrong, something happening to my baby, that I don’t know if I could put myself through that again, and if we hadn’t gotten pregnant with Danny immediately after I lost Jacey, I can’t say that I would have tried to have another baby. It’s one thing for me to say I want another baby, and to genuinely want another, which I do, but it’s completely different to jump from talking and wanting, to actually doing. I really want more babies, more than anything in the world… But I’m terrified. Even just thinking about it now. It terrifies me. To the point I just want to cry. I’m so scared of it happening again and I don’t know if I could handle it. I really don’t.