Why I’m Struggling With These Words
I’m going to write about something in this blog post that feels really personal, totally intimate. I’m scared to do this, but I feel like I have to. (My puppy Wilson, who is napping at my feet, just started hiccuping. For those of you who read my post about his hiccups, you’ll understand why I’m now crying and why I’m also feeling a bit more courageous).
For the first time since Poppy died 9 months ago, Eli and I had unprotected sex this month while I was ovulating. We talked about it ahead of time knowing a pregnancy may result. At the time, I felt like I was ready. So did he.
Since Poppy was born (and died) last October several people have asked us if we are going to “try again.” I understand the sentiment of “trying,” but the notion of it really bothers me.
We didn’t try to get pregnant with Poppy. She was a surprise. A wonderful, well-timed and completely welcome surprise! Some of you know already that Eli proposed marriage to me on February 15, 2015, while we were on vacation in Kauai. We watched a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Eli popped the question as the clouds turned vibrantly pink and I said yes. I was never happier.
We found out we were pregnant the next day. We’d gone hiking and I’d felt a little queasy which is totally unlike me. I was having a hard time sleeping the previous 3 nights and my period was a little late. I suggested we get a pregnancy test on the way home from dinner. It was positive. We were going to be parents.
We went from lovers, to fiancés, to parents in the matter of 2 days.
So this idea of “trying” to have another child has bothered me because Poppy’s entrance into our lives felt so magical. She just showed up. For me, having to plan a pregnancy after losing Poppy at birth is terrifying.
There’s the word “losing.” Loss, lost, losing. I am a mother who is suffering the loss of a child. I was triggered a few days ago when Eli mentioned how difficult it is to talk with new acquaintances about how we “lost Poppy.” I practically burst into tears. I know exactly what he meant, but we didn’t misplace Poppy. She isn’t lost. We aren’t going to find her. She’s never coming back.
How can a word that’s used to describe the act of misplacing our keys or wallet or chapstick also be used to describe the death of a person? At the same time, I get it. There are different definitions for the same word. So, I lost my baby and now I’m trying to have another one.
I know it’s an incredibly intimate and bold move to talk about my fears and anxieties regarding a potential pregnancy at this point. I don’t even know if I’m pregnant. I don’t want to wait to talk about it though. Fear’s got a new grip on me and I’m connecting with a whole new energy related to becoming a pregnant woman whose first child died.
I feel more connected to every woman who has ever tried to get pregnant. This 2 week wait of not knowing is grueling. I feel more connected to every woman who has ever experienced infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death and then got the courage to try again. I especially feel connected to any woman who has ever had the courage to talk about pregnancy after loss.
I know that by talking about this I’m busting through some pretty well established (but unspoken) agreements our society has related to talking about pregnancy. For instance, the practice our culture has generally accepted which says we don’t announce our pregnancies until some point when the pregnancy is theoretically safe and we can be open that we are “expecting” (generally the end of our first trimester). I feel deeply that agreement needs to change.
Regardless of our cultural customs, it will always remain a completely personal choice when to announce a pregnancy. But I’m not going to wait. I’m also being honest that I am completely freaked out about the possibility of being pregnant. I have to believe that’s normal given my circumstances.
I don’t know what the chances are that I’ll have a successful pregnancy, if I am in fact pregnant or get pregnant at some point in the future. I have no idea the choices I’ll have to make along the way. I don’t know if I will need to take medication to calm my nerves because I simply can’t handle it. What if I miscarry? What if our future baby has some fatal flaw and the pregnancy isn’t viable?
I don’t know what to expect. That brings me to my final beef with the English language today— the concept of “expecting”. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “expect” to mean the following:
: to think that something will probably or certainly happen
: to think that (someone or something) will arrive or that (something) will happen.
We were expecting a healthy daughter the morning we arrived at the hospital when I was in labor. For those 40 weeks I was pregnant, we were expecting the chance to hold our infant, to watch her grow, to nurture her life. I ache for all us parents out there who were expecting the best and got the worst.
Whether I’m pregnant or not, I’m feeling a complete mix of emotions either way. I’m missing Poppy more, wishing she were here, wishing I didn’t have to go through this.
In my last blog post I wrote about self-forgiveness. The possibility of a pregnancy is throwing me for a loop. Am I ready? How can I still grieve Poppy’s death and also bond joyfully with a new life growing inside of me? Can I be soft and forgive myself for feeling so conflicted?
I’m grappling with the uncertainty. In spite of all the doubt I have some faith that this is also part of the process. I’m still here. And I’m still breathing.
My heart is broken. Broken wide open. Where there is openness there is more space for love. May the love pour in.
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