Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lost In the Fire

When I was 12 years old I use to check out books about pregnancy from the library, just because I found the subject fascinating.  I'd hit puberty and I found it amazing to think that my body was developing into something that could grow another human. It seemed almost unreal.

My best subject in University was embryology.  An entire course on the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.  It was detailed, with intricate drawings and charts. We started off with the sperm and the egg, and by the end of the course we were into embryonic hearts, brains, intestinal tracts and thyroids.  All of that is formed by the time you head for your 12 week ultrasound.  I got a 96% in the course.

When I dreamed of going to medical school I wanted to go into Neonatology, and when that didn't happen I headed to nursing school with only one desire: to work in the NICU.  The care those fragile newborns needed was fascinating and so high tech and complex for such small patients.  I wanted my career to revolve around babies.  There was nowhere else I even considered working. 


It seems almost farcical that someone like me who has loved the idea of pregnancy and babies since before I can even remember, now finds the whole subject kind of depressing and sad.  I own my pregnancies, and I'm not ashamed of them, and it doesn't bother me to talk about them, or about Aidan...but they weren't happy times.  They weren't joyful or amazing or full of excitement.  I remember them as some of the most stressful, saddest and depressing times of my life.  It continues to amaze me that the wonderful being that is Kaia even came from those disastrous circumstances.  I look at her and marvel sometimes that she's just so normal, so herself.  She has none of the taint that was her pregnancy.  She is goodness and happiness and light.  That Acorn, the baby I worried for and cried so much for is actually the same person who toddles around our house, exasperating us by throwing her food on the floor, whines to be picked up to look out the window, and (on a good day!) falls asleep in my arms at nap time...seems almost unreal.  She's so could I ever have worried otherwise?

But I did  Oh I did.

One of the hardest parts about being back at work, is the constant surroundings of co-workers who are pregnant.  On my unit I work with 150+ women, most of child bearing age.  At any one time a dozen or more are off, going off, or coming back from maternity leave.  I can't go a day without bumping into a baby bump or hearing about so and so's ultrasound or baby shower, or other equally normal, happy pregnancy details.  I have very little to share and feel very "other" when these conversations come up.  Nobody else can relate to pPROM before viability.  Nobody knows what never ending weeks of bed rest is like.  Nobody gets what it's like to hold your dead child in your arms and live in fear for the life of the next. In truth, I have way more in common with my patient's parents than I do with my co-workers.  I wish I had happy stories to share, but my happy story starts months after the second pregnancy ended, when the baby finally came home, relatively unscathed.

So maybe it's no wonder that today when we found out at my nephew's 1st birthday party that my sister-in-law is 16 weeks pregnant with her second, I had to force myself to smile.  Truly, I'm glad for them, I'm happy they are happy and I'm excited to meet my future niece or nephew...but it just brings up so much sadness for me.  Brian and I talked about it on the way home, and we both feel it.  That kick to the gut that is the happy announcement.  The healthy pregnancy.  The anticipated delivery.  The plans for a living, breathing child.  We never had any of that.  WILL never have any of it, because when your first dies and you have a shit track record in the pregnancy department, well you just don't DO happy and excited anymore.  You do "cautious" and "anxious".  At your happiest you might do "pleased". And at your worst?  You might be left with "Not unexpected".   

"Things We Lost in the Fire" was the title of a movie released a couple years back, but I feel it could perfectly describe my feelings towards pregnancy now.  Sure it can produce wonderful, fantastic results (of which Kaia is but one example)...but it will never hold the same joy for me again.  Pregnancy lost all it's magic, all it's innocence and joy.  It's a source of jealousy and depression and anxiety and sadness.  It didn't work right for us.  It wasn't easy or carefree.  My son died and my daughter just barely escaped.  

Pregnancy, while a source of wonder and excitement for others, tastes like ash in my mouth.

How do you experience pregnancy now, both your own or others?  Does it still hold any joy or wonder?