What a Difference a Year Makes

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.

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5 thoughts on “What a Difference a Year Makes

  1. jwhitworth7

    I’m so happy that this year brings you more peace. I remember the feeling of despair you felt while walking your dog. I had those same breakdowns on long walks with my dog too. I’m so hoping 2016 brings you so much happiness! And I think it’s totally normal to be a bit hesitant about planning and purchasing things but it sounds like you guys have a plan in the works! I’m now less than two weeks out and still fearful we will have to put everything away. 😦 And thank goodness the bleed wasn’t anything to worry about but gosh I know that must have been scary! So glad you and the baby boy are doing well!

    Reply
    1. lyra211 Post author

      There’s something so cathartic about long walks with a dog, isn’t there? Dogs are the best healers, but they also give you permission to *feel*, in a way that can be awfully painful when you’re full of painful feelings. It was agony at the time, but I do think that having those walks as an outlet helped — I hope they helped you too.

      Yeah, it was scary — and so unfortunately timed, too, just as we were sitting down to Christmas brunch with my in-laws and my mom! Luckily my mom is a women’s health nurse practitioner, so I just quietly pulled her aside, and she checked things out as much as she could and told me it probably wasn’t anything to worry about but that if it would make me feel better I should call my doctor. So I knew even when I called that it was probably fine, but I was still glad to get the reassurance of being checked out. Blood is just the last thing I want to see at this point!

      I can’t believe you’re only two weeks out — that’s amazing! I’m so excited for you, and hoping that everything keeps going really, really well. 🙂

      Reply
      1. jwhitworth7

        So, so glad you had your mom there and that all turned out to be okay. I still have an extreme fear of seeing blood as that was the first sign something was wrong with Oliver’s pregnancy. And yes, those walks opened my eyes to a lot of things. Pet therapy is so awesome. Sometimes I wonder where I’d be without the love of my dog. So glad that you get to experience the same companionship with your pup!

  2. Mindy Lauren

    I thought I was alone, thinking those dark thoughts about loosing my daughter. I am 10 weeks behind you and I am tentatively planning our nursery- but I am terrified. What if I don’t get to meet her? What will a full nursery do to my psychosis? I too am at peace with my precious loss, and I think this pregnancy had a lot to do with it, but like you, I’ll never be over that pains an grief.
    I hope and pray that you meet your sweet boy when he arrives healthy and alive! And I hope he brings you and your family all the happiness and joy you so deserve and long for.

    Reply
    1. lyra211 Post author

      This is so hard, and I’m sorry that you’re having to go through it as well. There is no “getting over” the death of your baby, and I think we just need to accept all the dark emotions that come with pregnancy after loss. I just keep reminding myself that now that we have a car seat, everything else can happen after he’s born — I can send my husband or my mom to Target for the first set of clothes and diapers, and then there’s Amazon for everything else. But when we do feel hopeful, I try to let myself dream, and plan, and maybe even make a purchase or two. There’s no right answer — we just have to keep listening to ourselves and doing what feels right to us. It’s different for everyone, no matter what the circumstances. Wishing you the best, and hoping that you continue to have a healthy pregnancy!

      Reply

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