When trying to conceive, emotions can swing far in both directions. In an incredibly honest and personal post, Keely shares her experience this month…
I’m a superstitious person. I can’t spill salt without tossing some over my left shoulder. I won’t walk underneath a ladder. And I never let an eyelash fall without closing my eyes and making a wish. It works pretty well for me, minus the small piles of eyelashes and salt on the kitchen floor.
The better part of my pregnancy with my daughter was spent making wishes – for her safe development, happiness, and a lifetime of love – on every single eyelash my cheek caught. I sometimes even found my husband’s and demanded a wish. (I’m sure he was already fervently wishing and didn‘t much care for my eyelash thievery. But I wasn’t taking any chances.)
I wanted a second baby just about as soon as we had the first one; P.J.’s shock was slightly less than my own. To put it gently, I had been pretty darned vocal during the pregnancy. Cravings, aversions, aches, pains, all of it. Turns out, once I realized that I got to keep this little bundle of fabulous, it all seemed somehow more than worth it. But we held out for a while, enjoying our terrific kid and our new little family. As Nora got older, P.J. and I talked about it more and more and decided that it wasn’t just nostalgia for a newborn. We really wanted more kids. And even though money was going to be an issue, my jobs were up in the air, and It Wasn’t The Right Time (a made up concept if ever there were one) – we went for it.
Most people didn’t even know we were trying. Here’s why: attempting to conceive a child is one of those topics that, upon mention, you hope that the listener immediately disregards and never ever again reflects upon. It’s awfully personal. At that stage, the less of a body count involved, the better.
After a disappointing stretch of time, biology and luck worked. I was so excited that I cried. P.J. was so excited that he laid awake in bed, numbers and figures dancing on his eyeballs. We spent a truly blissful New Year’s weekend with our little secret, happily hibernating with our toddler, old movies and classic Nintendo games. New Year’s Eve felt like the last day of school before summer vacation.
That Sunday night, however, I had a sinking feeling that something was really wrong. Books – and my Mom – told me that cramps and bleeding could be normal. But early on Monday morning I woke up feeling absolutely awful. I stood in a ridiculously hot shower for half an hour, afraid of waking anyone. And without getting too graphic, the amount of blood and stabbing pain pretty much told me what my overtired mind refused to admit: I was losing our baby. I crawled back into bed with dripping wet hair and cried.
Very few people even knew we were pregnant. This was part of the plan, in case “something happened,” a phrase we bandied about, not really internalizing what that meant. Because when something did happen, the secret baby became a lonely heartbreak.
To say that I was sad doesn’t really do it justice, but the word “grieve” seems melodramatic on paper. Especially for something that my doctor called “really common.” I was beyond frustrated that the baby I already loved (and, let’s be honest – named) would never snuggle between my chin and chest. I felt guilty that we were even trying so hard for a second kid, knowing what a treasure of a waffle-covered baby we already had. To top it all off, I felt guilt over the amount of guilt I felt. And the smallest – just the tiniest – corner of my mind accused and berated me over my love of coffee.
The combo of abdominal pain and hormone surges kept me on the brink of tears for longer than I’d like to admit. Nora, surprisingly empathetic, would sit on my lap, patting my face and smooshing baby dolls to my lips. I was in a strange limbo for a week or so and hated feeling like a terrible mother to the kiddo I did have.
So I started talking to close family and friends. Overwhelmingly, people spoke to me in platitudes. Even though I knew it was For The Best, Not My Fault, Good That It Happened Early On, and At Least I Had One [Sweet] Baby, I got a little tired of the glossy words. I didn’t really blame people – even when writing about it, I found it hard not to be either maudlin or glib. It’s neither the end of the world nor a silly anecdote.
Psychologically, it’s like having a Faberge egg crumble in your hands. Even though you were carefulcarefulcareful… you still had something priceless disintegrate on your watch.
Emotionally, it’s like going to bed on Christmas Eve and waking up to find out that Christmas has been cancelled. But it wasn’t your fault. (Meanwhile, the fifteen year-old up the street is blasé about her second Hanukkah celebration in two years.)
Physically, it’s like getting a clean bill of health at the doctor’s office – and then having them thwack you with a sofa on your way out the door. In the face, midsection, and underneath your fingernails.
Literally- it’s a junky way to start a January.
But I haven’t lost hope that we’ll have a baby again – far from it. The other night I felt my cheek and brushed an eyelash onto my finger. It was soft, white, and pretty unusual. And I believe in stuff like that. So I made a wish. Couldn’t hurt.