A year. One trip around the Sun. The same stars are up when I walk the dog at night, the same snow and slush is covering the ground (finally!). Thankfully, despite being in the same physical landscape, I am not in the same emotional landscape I was in a year ago.
One week from today, I will have been pregnant for a year. That’s right, 52 weeks of pregnancy. In between the first 4.5 months of pregnancy with my daughter and these 7.5 months of pregnancy with my son were 9 months of agony, first waiting for answers to the question of why our daughter had died, then fruitlessly trying to conceive, then being told we’d need to do IVF, then apparently winning the lottery just before signing on the dotted line of the IVF consent forms. All told, between my first and second pregnancies I’ve been through 12 total months of pregnancy, plus 18 total months of trying to conceive. It’s been a long road. Not as long a road as for some of you, I know, but long for me. And there’s still a month and a half to go before we get to meet our son (I hope I hope I hope).
A year ago I was pretty close to the emotional nadir of my life. I was dealing with the still-raw reality of our daughter’s death, just starting to find out about the complications we experienced that might inhibit my fertility, wanting so hard to be pregnant again but being told by doctors to wait. Last year was a very snowy winter, and I remember taking my dog for her daily walk in the woods near our house (on snowshoes), which was the only thing I ever actually wanted to do after our daughter died. I remember days when I’d be hit with a wave of grief in the middle of the woods, and I’d sink into a snowbank and stare across the lake at the rising sun and feel so horrifically empty inside that I couldn’t bear it. Here I was, surrounded by incredible natural beauty, safe and well fed, with warm and supportive companionship from my husband, my family, my friends, and my dog, and all I could feel was grief, misery, and profound loneliness.
Now, things are so much better. Not spectacularly brilliant, with the magical shimmer that everything seemed to have during my pregnancy with my daughter, but good. I’ve got a busy little baby boy kicking me from the inside, and we’re tentatively starting to make plans for the future that involve a living baby in our family. Other than a Christmas Day bleeding scare I’ve had about as uneventful a pregnancy as I could hope for. (The bleeding was very light and was probably hemorrhoids, but since I couldn’t tell where the bleeding was coming from they brought me in to the hospital and hooked me up to the monitor for an hour to make sure everything was OK, which it was.) I’ll never “get over” my daughter’s death, but I’m more or less at peace with it these days, and hopeful about the impending arrival of my son. I feel mostly like a functional human being these days, rather than an emotional mess at all times the way I did a year ago, which is a nice change.
With 30 months of anticipating a baby under my belt, and 1.5 months left in this pregnancy, I should feel like the end is in sight. And in a way, I do. But after everything that’s happened, I still find myself in a strange place emotionally. My husband and I have made all sorts of plans: parental leave, childbirth/breastfeeding/parenting classes, learning to install a car seat, meeting with a financial planner, reading books, etc. We’ve even planned out a nursery, including picking out furniture and other items. I’ve got a folder full of bookmarks of stuff we’re planning to buy from Amazon, Ikea, Carter’s… but so far (at 32w5d) I’ve only actually bought one pack of onesies and some sheets for the hand-me-down co-sleeper. The rest of this is all in our heads. As so many of you have been so good about reminding me, babies don’t need much stuff, and there’s no law that says we have to buy the stuff now rather than after the baby arrives. We’ve got the essentials of a car seat, a place to sleep, and enough items of hand-me-down clothing to get us through the first few days. But I still struggle with the part of me that wants to just pull the trigger, set up the nursery, believe that this baby is going to arrive alive, and nest like a normal pregnant woman. The problem is that it’s still terrifying, and I still dwell on the ways that my baby might die. So I go back and forth, make more plans, but never actually do anything. I think these things are all normal to feel, given what we’ve been through, if occasionally exhausting. I miss the joyous optimism and eager anticipation of my first pregnancy, but I also appreciate the gratitude I now have for my pregnancy with my son.
So as the calendar year ends, I am grateful for this pregnancy, hopeful for the future, and happy to report that I’m in a much better place emotionally than I was at this time last year. As a (discontiguous) full year of being pregnant draws to a close, I’m (more than) ready to finally meet our living child, even as I struggle to believe that we ever will. Will 2016 finally be the year? The magic 8 ball of pregnancy statistics says “signs point to yes,” while my internal magic 8 ball says “reply hazy try again.” Only time will tell… but in the meantime, here’s to a new year, a new pregnancy, and a new outcome.