19w6d – I have two notes in my GCalendar for this upcoming week, and they seem plucked and dropped from two very disparate lifetimes.
The first: 20 WEEKS
Then, a not-quite-forgotten: DUE DATE??
Every miscarriage is a snowball in the back of the head, but my second this year was perhaps even icier, as we hadn’t known I was pregnant again. I had missed a period, sure, but in the months following my first loss, my cycle had been wonky as my body slowly evicted nine weeks of pregnancy hormones. This time, we hadn’t been trying to get pregnant—though we were past the three-period wait my midwives had recommended before attempting to conceive again—and so when I went to my acupuncturist for the second week in a row puzzled by what seemed like the longest, most painful period ever, she took my pulse, checked my tongue, and pleaded for me to pick up a pregnancy test on my way home.
(How to baffle a CVS cashier? Frantically buy maxi pads and a pregnancy test in the same transaction, mumbling incoherently about how these aren’t mutually exclusive purchases.)
Acupuncturist was right, of course. The test was positive, and still I bled. The following days of sequential hCG quant counts were definitive: Yes, I had been pregnant again, maybe 5, 6, 7 weeks; no, it wasn’t sticking. We weren’t even four months out from my first loss and here I was again, crawling rung by rung back into the hole that I had just barely emerged from in the weeks prior.
I can say nothing more articulate about that time than that it sucked. Not even the handful of people we’d told about our first pregnancy knew about this conception, and I hadn’t the foggiest as to how to drop this news and ask for what I so needed. Hey, Great Friend, remember how you so dearly, unexpectedly brought sundae supplies and sat with me when I miscarried back in November? Can you pick up some Tin Roof and jimmies and come over again? I couldn’t imagine how to seek comfort, as I felt somehow negligent for not telling anyone we were pregnant again in the first place. (No, we hadn’t known ourselves; somehow, that didn’t factor into this kaleidoscopic logic.)
So we told even fewer people this second time, and I let my grief re-swell from where it had been ebbing and flowing in the months following my first miscarriage. I can only say this loss was odder than the first, as I was ferociously missing a pregnancy this time, as opposed to the vision, the promise of a baby. Hell, I hadn’t known there was going to be a baby—but now that there could have been, I felt angrier and more shortchanged than ever.
Tonight, The Mister and I spoke for the first time in a long time about this second baby. The pain of that miscarriage for both of us is duller, somehow, than the first had been: When I wake up still, sometimes, feeling deflated and defunct and un-whole, it’s that first, longer pregnancy I pine for; thinking about that baby can still send me straight to bed for a day when I consider what, who could be now, more than a year later. But this weekend I’m realizing that I may have lumped the second loss in with the first, letting that subsequent experience compound the utter crappiness of the first.
“There are so many dates that seem to be … more meaningful this year,” The Mister lovingly said tonight.
I so want that not to be a euphemism for, Yowsa, was 2010 ever full of land mines!
This past week, I got to meet and listen to the inimitable Angie from Still Life with Circles read her beautiful essay Mothering Grief about the loss of and continuous love for her daughter Lucia, from the recently released They Were Still Born, a compilation of writers sharing their experiences of stillbirth. Angie read this passage:
“Though I was emotionally fragile in the months following Lucy’s death, I also felt a lot of compassion for everything. I was an exposed heart. Now I feel like my heart is two sizes too small. So I seek others like me. Other grieving mothers. In this world of talking to other babylost mamas, I feel OK. We talk about television shows, our children, our marriages, doing laundry, and yes, our grief. I feel happy, even. Creative. Normal.”
I know how perverse it is say that I am just enamored of Angie’s writing—I wish, wish, wish she didn’t have the experience of losing a child to reflect upon so eloquently—but I am beyond thankful for how generously she shares that experience in this book and through her daily community art blog Still Life 365, from which I have gained so much solace in the past year. That sharing she writes of by other grieving women is what I’ve found has righted me when my losses left me so messily derailed. And it’s that unanimity that will give me the traction I need to keep from slipping this week, one that will be loaded more fully than maybe I’ve known for some time.
A due date will pass, un-done. I’ll reach a midway point I’ve yet to envision making it to. We will move forward, us; still apprehensive, still with hope.