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Pregnancy After Stillbirth: It's Complicated

Posted Jan 28 2010 1:59pm
Greetings, KuKd/TTC Mommy-os, Daddy-os and Inquisitive Guests!

Wouldn't ya know: it's complicated.

Just to recap: this past Monday, Dr. C pulled her chair up really close to mine so that she and Kevin and I were sitting in a tight little pow-wow triangle, as though we were about to sing the kumbaya song. She held our 32-week fetus' ultrasound pictures in the air and said - looking mostly at me - "you're having a normal pregnancy, and I don't anticipate any problems."

She seemed solemn with her brows furrowed, like she was willing me to believe her - probably because of the utterly flippant, dismissive, shoulder-shrugging attitude I've had about this whole thing since I saw the pink plus-sign last July. I could hardly even handle her intense eye contact, at times fighting the urge to stare down at my feet. I told her it was easier - if not more fun altogether - to act like my inner KuKd-goth-tatooed self than to be brave and dorky enough to embrace this pregnancy, to believe. She nodded like she got it and asked if I was happy now.

Are ya happy now? (insert loud Italian New-Yorker grandmother voice) Ya got whatcha wawnted! No mowa complainin' outta yous! Now quit-cha cryin' and go eatcha meatballs!

I could've responded with my usual muted cynicism: well, I will be when the baby actually gets here. If he gets here!

But that gets old after a while. I feel like people get tired of cynicism when it's tossed out too liberally, unthinkingly - when it becomes your entire mode of operation, as it's become mine these past few years. So I indulged Dr. C with a big fat YEAH! THIS IS AWESOME NEWS! She seemed relieved.

Admittedly, I smiled my way through the rest of the day and the day after that, feeling light and airy with a prance in my step. I was happy! How could I not be? Buoyed by this newly resounding assurance of a baby on the way. Even Kevin - earthy, serious, quiet Kevin - seemed lighter all of a sudden, and later I saw that he'd bookmarked a website for car seats. Always thinking ahead, that man. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't still happy, relieved.

But it's not all straight-up candy-colored joy, oddly enough. That's what I'm sayin': it's complicated. Pregnancy after loss, that is.


Today and yesterday, after getting over my honeymoon-period of relief, I started feeling oddly as though a wide hole had been ripped open inside my soul by Dr. C's calm proclamation of normalcy, this vague weight of something pressing down on my heart. Anxiety? Depression? Sadness? Some mix of all of those things?

I sort of likened it to more to homesickness, the dreadful sort that I used to get at summercamp, like this feeling of missing something, maybe losing something and grasping to get it back. When I didn't gush about Obama's wonderfulness with characteristic enthusiasm after his State of the Union speech last night, Kevin asked what was wrong.

"I dunno," I said. "I don't know what to do with all this...normalcy. What am I supposed to brood about now?"

He chuckled - we both did. It's been a broody three years of KuKd, and to be told with such certainty, such eye contact - BY A REAL DOCTOR - that "this is a normal pregnancy," well, it takes away my "brooding cloak" so it's just out of reach. I've been wearing that screw-you-and-screw-babies attitude like a big bulky sweater since way back when. July 2006, to be exact. I started feeling naked without it, like letting go of an old friend.

But there's more slipping through my fingers like dry sand, and I'm finding myself this week trying to hold onto it: that KuKd identity and experience that have become so engrained in me these past few years. It's whole invisible universe - that blog-o-world and real-o-world of men and women who have been there before. I'm familiar with it. I enjoy it here. It's like a big secret club for cool kids. I've liked being in this world, even though my reason for being here was so god-awful, as all of our reasons are. It's not that easy to just let go like that, leaping out of one world, one whole identity, and into another: live-baby world.

See what I mean? Complicated.

The thing is, the very fact of being knocked up started pushing me out of this known, loved world a long time ago. I was oblivious to this fact until I received the brutally honest e-mail on this post:

"Now you're pregnant, and I feel so fucking alone. I've lost my misery mentor."

I've thought about that ever since. It troubles me, disturbs me, and makes me feel oddly alienated - like I'm in between worlds in this silent vacuum space. Just ask Kevin, who's heard me babble about it. It makes me want to grab onto the rich universe of baby loss that I know so damn well - of the brave KuKd mommas and daddas who live there, of books and blogs and support groups, of hospitals and tubes and machines and coffins, of ashes and pictures and candles, of poems and flowers and treasured locks of baby hair, of little black footprints on parchment paper, of boxes of Kleenex ever-present at the bedside, of Empty Cradle, Broken Heart sitting dog-eared on the bookshelf, of coveted photographs of little dead babies representing the children we all imagined they would become.

Just grab onto that world with both hands like a golfball-sized globe, and keep it in my pocket forever.

That's what's on my mind this week: how to do that, even as another little globe - a pastel-colored universe of new mommyhood- comes hurtling at me while I stand here blinded like a deer in headlights.
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