Monday, September 26, 2011

A Great Hope

Since I last posted here, we found out I was pregnant, and then, about thirteen weeks later, we lost the baby. 

While I was pregnant, I was very very sick.  I mean, so sick that the smell of my own hair made me gag.  My doctors ultimately gave me an anti-nausea medication which they also give to chemotherapy patients. This made it possible to eat without feeling like I wanted to cut my toes off, but didn't exactly bring back my energy and liveliness.  So mostly, while I was briefly pregnant, I didn't do much besides sleep and feel ill, and stare sort of dumbfoundedly at the idea of my being a mother, of all things.  We wanted the baby, had planned it, as much as one plans such things, and slowly, slowly, we picked names and I talked with my mother-in-law about what color to paint the nursery, and I bought a moon-shaped lamp from the thrift store.  Somehow I was nervous we'd lose the pregnancy from the beginning, in the way I worry everything good will be taken from me, so I was cautious, and didn't tell many people until we saw an ultrasound at about ten weeks.

I think a lot about that ultrasound.  We had it in the first place because I was worried I'd miscarried--some symptoms manifesting--and there, in the basement of the hospital, all the lights in the room out except for the glow of the monitor, we saw a very wee baby, kicking its wee legs and pumping its wee arms.  Its heartbeat fluttered at us, and I held Sam's ear (which felt like the thing to do) and we giggled, and I felt so much relief that I wept.

And then, a few weeks later, in the matter of a couple hours (which I'll spare you the details of), it was over.  This happened a little over two weeks ago, and I confess I'm still not sure how to proceed.  I started back at work today, and it was surprisingly good to dig into the fat manuscript on my desk and put earbuds in my ears and pretend, for a little while, that I knew what was what and who was who and how to do what needed to be done.  But now I'm home, and my house is quiet before Sam returns home, and I confess I don't know.  I confess that when I passed a little girl on my way to the bus stop, I felt like I might could wail.

We found out it was a little girl, and I spend so much of my time thinking about her, about what she might have looked like or been like, and wondering if she even was a someone, a soul, a spirit, a being with a personality.  Some people are comfortable thinking of the baby who leaves them as already a son or a daughter, and while I absolutely get that, I can't say I can think of her that way.

This is how I think of what happened, the only two ways, in all of my thinking and thinking and asking wise people, that have resonated with me:  A friend said it was a "death of a great hope" and gosh that's accurate.  It feels like there was some great hope budding in me, and with the death of it, all of the hope I've pieced together about the universe seems to have vanished.  I can intellectualize hope; I can intellectualize trying again; I can intellectualize a belief in beauty and goodness and human connection, but damn if I can feel any of it, these days.

Here's what another wise friend said, over Thai food, which is where I'm sure many wise things are said: I was asking what our good friends thought of this idea of the soul, of when the baby is a someone, and whether a miscarried baby has an identity, and what to make of it all, and one of them said that he thinks of it a bit like blood, that for awhile we share blood with our babies, theirs is comingled with ours, but eventually they develop their own circulatory system, and it's their own blood that circulates their veins.  He says he thinks the same is true of a developing soul/spirit/identity.  That at first it's comingled, that we sort of share it, and eventually, as the baby grows, it becomes more its own.  This isn't official doctrine, mind you, but it makes such sense to me.  This explains why it's such deep grief: a piece of me, an extension of myself, was literally lost.  And it's taking longer than I might have expected to feel whole again.

People have been so kind.  I've had flowers and emails and cards from across the country.  But I've been mostly quiet, weathering it solo, as I tend to do when something is quite hard.  I think of the first twenty-four hours after it happened, of how carefully Sam held me, of how much the two of us slept, of how we felt sort of suspended above the reality of it, the two of us trying to take it in.  Those were difficult hours, but they were ours.  And if I have to go through this with anyone, I'm sure glad it's been with Sam.