Two years ago today I had my first miscarriage. I was 11 weeks pregnant and it was a complete shock to me. The bleeding and cramping were horrendous, and so was the knowledge of what was happening, the indifference with which I was treated at the hospital. (‘At your age, you should expect this,’ was the not-so-subtle sub-text.) I didn’t know how to grieve a miscarriage. I felt terribly sad but didn’t feel I was allowed to be ‘terribly sad’ for very long. I got back to work right away, flew to Toronto for meetings and research, told myself I was ok. And I was. Mostly. I thought I’d try again and everything would be fine. I really believed in the odds I was given. Two miscarriages in a row is so rare, everyone told me.
Two years. Half my living daughter’s life has been lived in this limbo of waiting for trying for mourning for a baby, babies. Sometimes I try to imagine what our lives would be like if that first baby after E had made it. He’d be almost a year and a half old now. I imagine I would’ve finished my PhD a little sooner (or maybe not) and know I would’ve possessed more of the kind of motivation I need to start my academic career; I would have been entering that phase of feeling like it is time again to focus on myself after seeing my last baby through his first year. Two of my best friends had their first babies within weeks of when E was born. We were all pregnant again in 2010 and expecting our second babies within 3 months of each other. In the way their lives are unfolding, I see how mine might have gone. I watch their daughters grow out of babyhood and into toddlerhood and I watch my friends start to stretch their minds and hearts beyond the constant reality of babies, babies, babies.
I never would have – or could have – imagined that after that first miscarriage I would have another, and then birth a stillborn daughter, and then miscarry again, and then be here, two years later, anxiously taking note of every kick, wondering how I can still be only 24 weeks pregnant, how much longer I have to do this for (and hoping, hoping, hoping for 13 more weeks), while trying figuring out how to parent a dead child, the daughter I’ll always see lurking in the shadows of my two friends’ family photos and updates.
I feel stuck, stuck, stuck sometimes. I feel like I have been pregnant forever and will be pregnant forever. And as I write that statement I remember that I wrote the exact same thing in the last entry in my journal before Anja died and I want to go back and strike it out, not risk the bad luck, the jinx of repeating myself. I will stay pregnant as long as it takes. I will not complain, I want to plead, but please, please let me keep this baby. There is no one to whom I can plead, though, only the illusion of control that so many people I know have been able to maintain, but which, for me, for my family, has been swallowed whole by the reality of these last two years.
I wish I could find the lack of control freeing. I wish I could let myself go, be serene, enjoy this pregnancy in case it is all I get, but instead I feel increasingly cramped, anxious, frustrated. I deserve this, I want to yell, but I know deserving has nothing to do with it. I am a good person, a good mother, I want to scream, but that doesn’t matter either. There is nothing to do, no way to earn this baby; there is only waiting waiting waiting.
And remembering remembering remembering.