Monday, December 31, 2012
The End of the Innocence
2012 started with so much promise. We found out we were pregnant on January 13. I was shocked, but we were SO happy and excited that we'd become parents THIS YEAR. Things really seemed to be coming together for us--For once. My pregnancy was so smooth. We took Luke to his first concerts in my belly--Wilco, Ryan Adams, and then finally, Coachella. Jeff graduated with his MPA in May. We got a lot of things done to our house that we've been putting off for awhile. Jeff passed his comp exams RIGHT in the nick of time--so that we could FINALLY concentrate on being Mommy and Daddy.
And then September 10th happened.
I've never had my world turned upside down so quickly. In one instant, our entire lives were altered forever. I suppose that's what tragedy does to you. I've been lucky enough to not have to experience tragedy in my 33 years on this planet. But it caught up to me--to us. That day was supposed to be the most amazing day of our lives--the day we met our firstborn child.
And we got to meet him. But he had no heartbeat.
Falling in love and saying goodbye at the same time hurts more than anything else. I can go back to that panicked feeling--when they told us Luke didn't have a heartbeat anymore...and I feel it all over again--just at the thought. The shaking...I stared at the ceiling. I couldn't believe something like this was happening to us. How were we going to get through this? How could I deliver our son...knowing he was gone?
I've been able to find a LOT of courage in these past 3 months. Everyday...I bristle at the bitterness. The pain and bitterness of seeing Luke's things around our house. His crib. I bristle at Facebook--At everyone's happy families and baby pictures. The jealousy is incredible. I want to be happy for them--they're people I care about...but I always just end up feeling sorry for myself and Jeff. I want to delete my account on Babycenter so I can stop getting age appropriate emails telling me he's 3-6 months old this month...but I can't bring myself to delete him. It's just...wrong. I shouldn't have to choose to delete our child.
We went into this process--of having our first child--with an INCREDIBLE naïveté. Not a worry in the world. Not until that terrible day when our innocence was shattered. There's no pregnancy book in the world that really delves into the possibility that you can carry your baby--with no sign of problem--for 39 weeks, and NOT take him home with you. Not a single one I read, anyway. The thought never crossed my mind that WE could experience the terribly insignificant chances of stillbirth. We won that lottery. Somehow. I wish that could've been the Powerball, and not the shittiest lottery imaginable. 1 in 160 births are stillborn. That's a 0.6% chance there. But only 2%-4% of those stillbirths are cord accidents like we experienced--when the doctor is too late to save them. The odds...are insane.
And now our innocence is lost. We had a funeral service for our son. This year. I want nothing but to have a living child now. But I know what can happen. I know now that making it to the end of the first, second, or even third trimester...Doesn't mean anything. At least not to me. Sending pregnancy announcements and ultrasound pictures will never guarantee us that we get to take home our baby. Having the most "uneventful pregnancy ever" doesn't necessarily mean our son will be born alive. I can take care of myself...carry him as a completely responsible mother--no gestational diabetes, no strep, nothing, and STILL not get to take him home.
There can just as easily be "no reason" we lost him. And we just have to somehow accept that. Talk about breeding pessimism.
I wish I could go back in time to the innocence we once lived in.
We don't have the luxury of time to wait around for it to return, unfortunately. I feel that we're doing the absolute best we can getting through our grief. I feel like we've carved out a space in our lives where Luke will exist--forever. But I wish we didn't have to walk through hell and experience all of this. I wish we could be those naive parents that just get to go through life with their living children, complaining about all the things new parents complain about. I wish we could be those people.
But we can never be those people. We'll always have a sadness behind our eyes...where Luke will be forever.
And in 2013, we'll try again. I started out 2012 reading pregnancy books that were so generic--The Mayo Clinic Healthy Pregnancy Book. And I finished 2012 reading Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby. I definitely didn't see that one coming. Ali gave me Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart for Christmas, and that's next on my reading list...and I hope to start reading more pregnancy-after-loss books in 2013. Hope.
I'm scared to possibly get pregnant again. Hell--I'm scared for everyone I know who's pregnant. I don't wish these feelings on anyone--Ever. I know I will be a complete wreck...worrying when (if?) we get pregnant again. Is the heartbeat there? Will the baby get stuck in the cord again when he or she turns down? The feelings of having to deliver another baby...Going through the same motions again...scare the hell out of me. Having to have two children full term...just to come out with one. It's so unfair. So so so unfair. Thank god I have an amazing therapist.
But if I've learned anything this year, it's that we have no control over our lives. We have limited control, yes. But in the grand scheme of things...what will happen, will happen. You can do everything right. Be a good person. Take care of yourself and your family and friends and your child in your own womb. And still find yourself in the depths of darkness. This is not a place you ever expect to find yourself in. Nothing you could plan for. And yet it happens--to so many of us.
I didn't know how strong I could be. I think I know now, but I think the real test will be having to go through this all over again...hopeful for a different ending. I'm so thankful that so many baby-lost parents now blog and write about their experiences. Reading that my feelings are exactly the same as so many of yours makes me feel like so much less a freak. And I'm so thankful for the people I have in my life to lean on. They know who they are.
2013 is going to be filled with a lot of new, scary, and exciting experiences. My fingers are crossed that this will be the year things go right for us. We've already beat the odds...so this time, hopefully we can just not.