October 15, 2009

HALFWAY THERE



I love looking pregnant.  I never want to look normal again.  You can have the aches and pains, but let me keep the tummy.  I take great delight in the fact that I crossed through hell to get here, but at least I make a cute pregnant lady.  I deserve for luck to be on my side for once, right?  I have been amazed that strangers have had the guts to ask me when my baby is due; either they are really brave or I look so obviously pregnant that they feel safe in asking.  I'd like to believe the latter. 

I am halfway there.

Whenever you call the hospital, a recording says that if you are less than 20 weeks pregnant, you should go to the ER in an emergency.  If you are more than 20 weeks, you head straight to Labor and Delivery.

Should something go wrong, I have crossed the threshold from "having a miscarriage" to "delivering a baby."  It's both a daunting and a wonderful milestone.

Most of the time, I don't worry about that.  At least not now that she's started wiggling where I can feel it.  It wasn't as wow as I expected it to be, because I guess I expected a hard kick instead of little stretches and rumbles.  But when I really think about it, it is a fun feeling.  And it's like a secret: I can be doing stuff with my mom and then say, "She's been kicking this whole time," and my mom gets this wonderful look on her face like I told her I was pregnant for the first time all over again.  That's been fun.

Still, the worry is always in the back of my mind.  Every time I buy something, I imagine it sitting in the garage collecting dust like all the other things I've bought over the years.  I bought a crib and mattress this week, and part of me just chalks it up as money wasted because I cannot really see this all working out in the end.  Surely there will never really be a baby in this house.

Sometimes I catch sight of myself in the mirror when I'm getting ready for bed, and I "discover" that I'm pregnant.  It hits me, that I have this belly and that for most people it means that they will be having a baby soon.  But I still kinda think of it as something that happens to "most people," not me.

She has a name, and yet I never use it.  She is only "the baby."

And I don't know when it will feel real.  I should tour Labor and Delivery.  I should take one of the parenting classes.  I should work on a birth plan.  I should consider a doula in case my husband doesn't get home in time.  But I do none of these things because they still seem pointless. 

It's hard to explain, that I am enjoying the pregnancy while simultaneously doubting that it will ever actually result in a living baby.

I've taken a lot of guff for being too ready to have a baby, which is why I find all this so funny: I've been ready for a theoretical baby for ten years but I am still not ready for this real one inside of me.  People get wide-eyed when I say that I bought college-themed onesies way back when my husband and I were just dating, knowing that someday a baby would root for our alma maters.  We bought a mosaic to hang on baby's wall when we were on our cruise in 2005, long before we were ever thinking of having a baby.  And I bought an art print of a mother and baby bird even before I ever met my husband.  I have been ready for this moment for as long as I can remember.  And now we have a nursery, an honest-to-goodness nursery, and all these things are in it.  But still...

When will I stop waiting for the other shoe to drop?  I just want to feel like a normal happy person instead of leaving the tags on everything "just in case."

This post turned out far more morose than I thought it would be...

And while I'm writing this, I realized that I sort of cling to this sorrow.  I think part of me is resisting being a "normal happy person."  I still carry the pain of the three lost babies, but to the stranger on the street, I look like any other pregnant Army wife.  And once I have the baby, I am just like any other mom.  But I don't feel like a regular old first-time mom.  Now that I look like everyone else in the Babies R Us, I feel like I want to wear a sign that says "Trust me, it was much harder to get to this point than you think." 

I haven't figured out yet how to separate the happiness of this baby from the sadness of the others without feeling like I am turning my back on the others and also myself.  I haven't figured out how to get over my past, and most of the time I am not really sure I want to.  I don't want to dwell on it, but I don't want to move on and forget it either.

And maybe that's why I can't cut any tags off.  It's not really that I think this baby will die, because I truthfully don't really think she will.  Or at least I don't have any reason to think she will.  Instead, I think I resist because it means accepting a new identity and shedding the old one, which is proving hard for me.  Now I am just another pregnant Army wife and will soon be just another Army wife dragging a stroller around.  My belly is a sign of great things, but it's also the end of the person I have been for the past three years.  And even though I've hated that person, I don't know how to not be her anymore.

I don't know how to move on and just be happy and just be a mom without constantly feeling like I need to explain everything.  When people ask if this is my first baby, I just need to answer Yes instead of feeling like I need to unload the whole story.  Because right now, the story's still in me and it still feels like a big part of who I am.

And I wonder when it won't...when I'll just feel like this is my baby and we are a regular family like everyone else.

I guess I have 20 more weeks to figure it out.

Posted by: Sarah at 03:36 PM | Comments (21) | Add Comment
Post contains 1166 words, total size 27 kb.

1 You look fantastic, by the way.

I went through a lot of the same things as far as emotions go.  I used to have dreams where I'd wake up not pregnant anymore, and be in a complete panic when I actually did wake up even though it was her kicking me awake. Every big pregnancy milestone, I had a dream that somebody stole the baby before I got to experience it--the big ultrasound, the first kicks, going to the hospital to give birth.  I didn't wash any of her clothes until the 32 week, and only the gender-neutral clothes.  We fought so hard to get pregnant, and STAY pregnant that even when my water broke, I was kind of surprised that it was really going to happen--that we were going to get to meet the Captain.  So either it's normal to feel like that, or we think alike.

And as morbid as that crossing from going to the ER to going to L&D threshold is, it is a big deal.  You're doing great, and I'm so happy for you.

Posted by: Ann M. at October 15, 2009 10:32 AM (+GQ3g)

2 You look all lovely and glowy, Sarah

Posted by: Lissa at October 15, 2009 11:05 AM (eSfKC)

3

You don't have to be 'just another Army Mom.'    Your story is a part of you.  It's a part of your little girl.  It's how you became who you are now (even as you move into new phases of your identity) and it's part of how she came to be.  No, people won't know that from simply looking at either of you, but it will still always be that way. 

You know that I lost my Mom when my first daughter was 4 months old.  When people would see me in the context of my pregnancy they had no clue that I was also living in constant fear and worry and sadness because my Mom had terminal cancer.  And I got really ticked off at people who just oozed pregant happiness at me because I was expecting without realizing the heartache I was experiencing at the same time.  And that experience is a part of me and my daughter.  I looked like any first time Mom.  But I wasn't.  And the reality is, that a whole lot of women who look like any 'normal pregnant person' are also living in a story a lot bigger than the baby bump they're carrying around.  You aren't just any first time Mom who can take all that comes from new baby stuff for granted.  You are a woman who fought tooth and nail for a child.  You've used more Mama-bear ferocity in the last few years than most people do during the first few years of their babies lives.  You know better than most of us how tenuous life really is. 

So don't think that you have to dismiss the hugeness of all that has happened as baby coming becomes more and more a reality. It's part of who you are.  It's part of who she is--not in a bad way that means you're strapping heartache to her life forever, but in a good way that means her life is already infused with meaning and a story that is bigger than her alone.  You aren't just any pregnant army Mom.  You are Sarah, and you are pretty damned amazing.  You look absolutely gorgeous and I can't wait til you get to meet that precious little girl.

(P.S.  I'm sorry I wrote a book...)

Posted by: Val at October 15, 2009 11:36 AM (5btL/)

4 You are a lovely pregnant lady. When I was pregnant, I heard about free doula services for the spouses of deployed service members. I'm not sure if you know about it already, but it's definitely worth exploring. Enjoy those little kicks; they get bigger!

Posted by: Lee Anne at October 15, 2009 12:32 PM (N5ZmR)

5 Yay! I'm glad you are enjoying all of this so much. I think the waiting for the other shoe to drop and the grieving alongside the enjoyment are totally understandable. In fact, I'm guessing it's normal. I've been in a different set of shoes, so I'm grieving a different set of things, but what you're saying here totally resonates with me. Perhaps we could have t-shirts made up to wear into Babies 'R Us. . . . For what it's worth, I'm not sure one can separate sadness over the past from happiness in the present. I don't think you need to try, if you don't want to. And for what it's worth, I totally don't think you *do* need to just answer "Yes." Those three little ones you lost really were your babies and you really did lose them, and that *is* a big part of who you are. I think it's fine to say, "Actually, we lost three little ones early in pregnancy. She's our fourth." If they're uncomfortable, their problem. For what it's worth. . . .

Posted by: Lucy at October 15, 2009 02:25 PM (YNvUz)

6 We're so proud!

Posted by: Kevin Cox at October 15, 2009 04:17 PM (VRirA)

7 Oh my gosh, Sarah, you are so adorable! The kicks will get harder, much harder. Just wait.

No advice for you, but sending you virtual hugs.

Posted by: Heather at October 15, 2009 04:21 PM (ACoc9)

8

Aww, what a cutie patootie pregnant chick you are! 

I know it's hard.  Nothing anyone says will make that feeling go away, but just try to enjoy as much as you can!

Posted by: sharona at October 15, 2009 08:14 PM (BeRta)

9 When I was pregnant with L.E., I spent the first 20 weeks racked with fear.  I didn't look at baby names, didn't tell my office, went to bed immediately when coming home from work, and largely lived in my own self made bat cave.  After infertility and miscarriage, it was impossible for me to focus on the impending miracle.  Too scary.  Too fearful of how destroyed I would be if something went wrong and my hopes were crushed again. 

At 20 weeks, when we found out she was a girl, for the first time even uttered a baby name. I was still guarded, shaky and scared.  Better... but consumed by fear.  As the weeks went on, it did get better and I did enjoy parts of it, but the whole process was all consuming.  Even right at the very end, when she stopped moving at 41 weeks, even through the weekly ultrasounds, etc, I was borderline hysterical.  That day of fear led to the birth of my sweet, phenomenal baby girl.  The fear played it's role that day and led me to a needed induction and a perfect birth.  And the thing I couldn't stop saying for the first few weeks was.  No one can ever take her away from me.  She's really mine.  This really happened.  It was an unbelievable journey. 

I still grieve for the baby I lost and the pain and suffering en route to my children.  It's never left me, and I doubt it ever will.  I cry tears of joy every time I hear news of a good ultrasound for friends and breathe a little sigh of relief.  If someone around me experiences a loss, I move what I can to make sure I am there, supportive, listening, and not offering advice or it will all work out in the ends.  It's just a part of me now.  And frankly if someone told me to just pull it together already, I wouldn't have a clue how, now two babies and five years later.  This *is* who I am now. 

But, dude!  You bought a crib - that's huge!  I couldn't pull that off until month 8!  I never bought a single thing until the last month.  You're doing great, looking good and being an amazing mother.  That will show forever.  And IMO, as your baby girl grows, share this journey with her.  Let her feel your heartache, see you as real and know how undeniably wanted she was in each and every minute.  That will help form her character, all while binding the two of you together.  No one is walking without some fraction of pain in their lives.  To pretend to be so is phony.  So be real with your thoughts, be real with your emotions, and in another 20 weeks or so, I wish you hours of endless bliss with your sweet baby girl.  Clear your calendar and get ready to soak up the amazing relief and love.  Of course your baby will be brilliant, so she'll probably come right out of the womb, look up at you and say "Thanks for waiting mama, I'll try to always make it worth it for you." 

I'm anxious for your rainbows of peace as well. 

Posted by: Lane at October 15, 2009 08:41 PM (Xla7j)

10 Yup! you are definitely pregnant. I never lost a baby but I was always fearful and I have to admit to being superstitious about getting "things" too soon. My fears were not relieved by ultrasounds, we did not have them in my days of being pregnant, but I did have three very healthy, beautiful babies. Yours will be, too.

Posted by: Ruth H at October 15, 2009 08:59 PM (LsQQS)

11 Looking good!!!

This is a really wonderful post, Sarah. 

This line especially caught me:
"I haven't figured out yet how to separate the happiness of this baby from the sadness of the others without feeling like I am turning my back on the others and also myself."

I hope when you first look in that little girl's eyes, this all clicks into place and "the others" take their place as that which prepared a very special place for this little girl in everyone's hearts.  So it won't feel like you're turning your back.

{{Hugs}}

Posted by: Guard Wife at October 16, 2009 12:02 AM (p4/8e)

12

Ditto on the "you look wonderful" Sarah.

 

Congrats again and stay positive.

Posted by: tim at October 16, 2009 09:19 AM (nno0f)

13

OH YAY!!!!!!

OMG.  That is just the BEST PICTURE EVER.  Seeing that little baby bump on you warms my heart, Sarah.

Posted by: AFSister at October 16, 2009 03:45 PM (mUuHm)

14

I, too, waited for the other shoe to drop the entire time I was pregnant with the boys.  Even at the birth, when "Baby A" was in distress, I thought, "Well, at least there's another if this one is dead...  I didn't go through all of that for nothing."

And to this day, unfortunately, the dread never leaves.  But that's what being a mom is about.  You never stop wondering when the other shoe will drop.  For some of us, it has dropped -- maybe too many times -- to feel safe and unaffected.  But life makes you more and more wary the older you get!  We're all barely hanging by a thread and seeing how fragile (AND strong) that thread can be....  Can be numbing and scary....

Congrats!  I can't wait for you to get REALLY big....  And feel the different parts, elbows and knees, gliding and rolling under the skin....

Posted by: Allicadem at October 16, 2009 08:02 PM (eGglD)

15 You do look just lovely, Sarah. I'm SO excited for you.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 16, 2009 08:27 PM (paOhf)

16

 "I haven't figured out how to get over my past"

You can't.  Probably shouldn't.

Our first was born ON our 7th anniversary.  My mother was an only child after 8 years of problems.  In the greater scheme of things problems are normal; I pray they're done for you for now.

You're looking good.  Sorry your husband isn't there to admire.  Send him lots of pictures.

Posted by: Glenmore at October 16, 2009 09:47 PM (V0mpS)

17 You look absolutely beautiful! 

Posted by: Mrs. Who at October 17, 2009 02:22 PM (+UBtq)

18 You and your daughter are both beautiful. Very radiant

Posted by: Teresa VanHove at October 19, 2009 04:24 PM (dkExz)

19 Though our paths are so different, as always I hear you.  I'm struggling with something similar--putting in its proper place the pain of the past and identity it has forged (how do I let go of the pain without letting go of who I have become?).  I think the commenters above are on the right track with this subject.  I think maybe the idea is to weave the pain into the fabric and life in such a way that it no longer drags us down and yet going forward it makes happiness all the sweeter.

*hugs of both joy and sympathy*

Posted by: FbL at October 20, 2009 12:36 PM (HyNTm)

20 (oops!  That should be "fabric OF life" above)

Posted by: FbL at October 20, 2009 12:37 PM (HyNTm)

21 I haven't figured out yet how to separate the happiness of this baby from the sadness of the others without feeling like I am turning my back on the others and also myself.

Someday, when you have a houseful of little munchkins, you'll realize what every parent knows: loving one child takes nothing from the others.

It's normal to feel this way, but love is a cup that fills right back up to the brim when others drink from it.  And I know that one day soon, you'll be able to relax and know this, too.

You're going to be a fantastic mother.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 24, 2009 04:51 PM (oSDvp)

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