No “Safe” Point

Okay, I guess maybe I am actually “scarred for life.” Something that has struck me very deeply during my current pregnancy is a sense of there being no “safe” point during pregnancy. Everyone is familiar with the advice to wait to announce a pregnancy until after 12 weeks because the risk of miscarriage drops then. Well, my own first miscarriage experience happened after that “safe” point. Then, as I’ve referenced before, in July one of my very good friends also had a later loss like mine (her baby was born after 16 weeks of pregnancy—it is not my business to share details of her loss, but there was nothing “wrong” with her baby either. That is something that will always linger for me about Noah—the whole, “well probably there was something wrong with him.” I don’t know that. There was no evidence of anything wrong with him. I feel like that is an easy brush-off answer/response that people give to try to make themselves feel better and/or safer). The same week that I found out about her baby, my midwife called me to tell me that her daughter had just had a stillbirth at 20 weeks. For me, who was waiting so intensely to make it past 15 weeks, that was so awful to hear! And now, here I am at 18 weeks and another friend’s sister just had her baby die at 23 weeks. These occurrences really elevate my risk perception and heighten the already present sense of there being no “safe” point—no point where I can finally breathe easier and trust that my body really can “successfully” do this again (thank goodness I already have two lovely, healthy boys that remind me of my past childbearing “success”!)

I am very shaken up by any new, close-to-my-own-life loss story. It makes me feel like any tentative equilibrium, security, and peace I’ve managed to build up about my new baby crumbles away and I am left with the sobering reality and I feel so unsettled and off balance.  I am humbled by the amount of childbearing loss there is in the world—it is deep and vast and it HURTS. My friend went to a support group meeting in her area and shared some things that had happened there. I asked her, “Aren’t you AMAZED by the incredible amount of loss and pain and sadness and grief there is out there? How were we ‘blind’ to it before? I’m stunned every time I go to mothering.com by the sheer volume of babyloss in the world. I feel about it like I used to feel about domestic violence—like a lot of people don’t want to “look” at other’s peoples’ pain and would rather turn the other way or shut the door on it, but that once I know it is out there, I feel like I have a responsibility to look and see and hear that it exists and is real.”

We’ve also talked about how there is an emotional side and a mental/logical side to the loss experience and that often the heart “wins” out.

It has also given me a bit of a new perspective on medical professionals who say they either can’t support homebirth or wouldn’t have a homebirth themselves, because, “I’ve seen all the things that can happen.” I feel this way now about pregnancy—I can’t necessarily expect to have a lovely, healthy baby at the end of pregnancy, because I’ve seen all the things that can happen. Like my perception of risk is emotionally inflated to a practically pathological level. Of course, logically I do know that losses at 23 weeks (or 40 weeks) are much less common than at 6 weeks, or 8 weeks, or 15 weeks, but STILL.

I am now 18 weeks pregnant. I am feeling a bit more secure, but as I noted, that security is very tentative and easily shaken by the losses around me. Today we had an ultrasound (yes, another one) and I hoped to find out the new baby’s gender. The doctor first said he was leaning towards “boy” (which I also have been feeling), but then he looked around some more and said he was definitely “flipping” his opinion to “girl.” So, essentially, I know as much as I did yesterday ;-D I really want to name this baby and to have a non “it” identity for it. It is really important to me to find out gender in advance this time around.

I have come back to a “dwelling” place/musing recently in which I feel like I’m almost still too “fixated” on miscarriage and not paying enough attention to my current pregnancy. It changes you though. And, I have this interest/passion for the subject of miscarriage now too that is almost independent of my own feelings/experiences (but intertwined, of course)—kind of like how I stayed super interested in birth after having my own kids, but not specifically dwelling on/reliving their births, just maintaining an intense, ongoing interest in the subject of birth. Now, I’m still intensely interested in miscarriage-birth—-sometimes with my own story in there, sometimes not.

I do feel like I am suffering almost from the fear, loss of innocence and lack of the normal joy of pregnancy. It is hard. I don’t like feeling this way. Several days ago, I talked way too long to a good friend about this experience (thank goodness for friends with good listening skills and patience!) and explained to her that my dominant feeling during this pregnancy is, “don’t die.” And/or, “I hope the baby doesn’t die today.” What a horrible emotional “marinade” for a new baby to grow in! I can’t seem to stop it though—that is where I’m coming from, not from a “yay!” place. While I deeply want to be cherishing each moment that I do have with my baby, my dominant feeling is of the “don’t die” variety. Thank god(dess) for my Doppler, because when I hear its heart then I know for that day (at least) it didn’t die and I feel a rush of connection and love that keeps me going for another day. I care about this baby so much. Hopefully, it (she?) feels that more deeply that the “don’t die” thoughts.

I think I’m at a point now where I’m going to move most of my pregnancy-related thoughts to my birth blog and let this blog rest for a while. I still have a lot I’d like to share about miscarriage and miscarriage-birth—things I’d like to share from that interest/passion for the subject place, not from a dwelling/still-processing place, but I think I would like to wait to work on those posts and ideas until after my new baby is born. I am going to go ahead and post my call for contributions for my book though, because I would like to be ready fully move forward on it after my new baby is born too.

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13 responses to “No “Safe” Point

  1. This IS hard and the innocence IS gone, but I *know* your baby feels just how much you care for him/her (goodness, even I can feel it and I’m only on the outside!). I truly believe it’s just as you said, you care so much and you want this baby so much that it’s almost impossible to just sit back and “hope”. Also, don’t forget that baby is also marinating in all the love and hope everyone around you has for you and him/her. This baby is so loved already!! ((hugs))

  2. And, oops…I’m not very good with HTML so sorry for the entire paragraph of italics!

  3. I ached while reading your latest entry. I feel you’ve had to learn so suddenly a reality that comes to each of us in time. Loss. Unimaginable loss. And the knowledge that life is never completely certain. You’ve always known it intellectually but now you know it in your heart.

    But you have had beautiful healthy babies and you will again. This baby (a girl? Wouldn’t it be magical if she really was with us at the Meetings at the Moon?) will almost certainly arrive healthy and well. And you will survive and you will learn and you will share what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown.

  4. That is true, Mary Alice. I did know it intellectually (and a bit by heart as well—Mark’s dad died when Mark was only 21, for example, but that was more of a hurting FOR someone else than it was a hurting in my own heart) and this is different. It is also multifaceted in that it cuts in the heart of my professional work as well as my personal life. And, I also know (in my head) that it isn’t just pregnancy and birth we have to get through—it is then not dying of SIDS and then not getting childhood leukemia, and not getting in a car accident, etc., etc., etc. Never ending. I guess we don’t think about all the possibilities or try to absorb the realities of all manner of losses because we’d have to simply collapse into blobs of quivering jelly on the floor!

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  6. You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment unless you trust enough. ~Frank Crane

    I’m sorry for your shaken trust. I too had hoped it would have gotten better by this point and trust would replace distrust in yourself. Families of full term homebirth loss confront the same mistrust. Shaken trust sucks big time.

    I have always felt that life as a whole has no real safe point. I’ve lived for a long time with that thought and feeling so I guess I’m used to it –sort of. Just as you describe to Mary Alice; there will always be something that can make you worry, or some milestone of “danger” to get past.
    I read and feel and ache at your candid process of loss, grief and self discovery. ((hug))
    I think there is a lot of pain “out there.” Many layers and many types of much sorrow. A long time ago I was watching a show on Oprah about loss and someone was talking about getting through the horrid parts of loosing a loved one. Not getting over it –just getting to the point of being able to be functional and live. Oprah said, “We all remember how the Cosbys’ son was murdered? And I remember Camille Cosby saying to me sometime afterwards that everybody has to walk through the fire. You have to walk through the fire. And everything that you — you were saying, and you have said, is absolutely true. You can’t control when that is. You’ve got to be willing to go right through it.” – Oprah Winfrey

    Since then I often think of coping with loss in terms of walking through fire.

    I also have come to think of loss pain like labor (since it is something in which we have little control over)….no one can do it for me, it’s my journey and mine alone, there is no way to stop it, there is only to proceed forward with it no matter how much it hurts.

    • When I was actually in labor with Noah and then at several points thereafter, I told myself “the only way to do it is to go through it.” And that’s true. It is also true that I’m changed forever.

    • And it isn’t just me who feels shaken by the whole experience. Today during breakfast, Z suddenly said, “It is sad that you’re having another a baby.” I asked him why and he said, “because baby Noah died.” 😦

  7. wow. my name is molly, on june 14 2010 i delivered my little baby boy at 15 weeks gestation (i was 16 weeks)…and we had named him noah. i loved reading about your description of your Noah…as my son too had a beautifully formed body. i couldn’t stop staring at his perfect little fingers and toes, opening his little mouth to see his tiny gums, the detail of his precious little ears…oh how i miss him today. today i started to feel “okay” enough to start reading some blogs of other womens experiences and i came across yours. odd at how similar our stories are. i have a 6yr and 3yr old as well…my 3yr often asks, “mommy, when i die can you put my noah bear in the coffin with me so i can give it to him in heaven.” oh my sweet girl and precious baby.

    my husband and i are considering trying to get pregnant again next month, but i have so much fear that i’ll be full of fear (if that makes sense). i don’t want to be tormented by fear, yet i agree that i feel like there is an innocence of pregnancy that is forever lost. how did you get a doppler? i’ve been wondering if there are “tools” out there that can help me try to relax with this next one.

    thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story.

    • What an interesting series of coincidences in our stories! I’m so sorry about your little Noah.

      I decided that I would most likely be fearful regardless of when we got pregnant again. After having a second loss, I decided to wait to try again until his due date passed–to sort of psychologically “close out” the pregnancy with him. For me, this was the right choice (as it was, I ended up ovulating on his due date and so that was close of enough to completing the “pregnancy” to me). I have more fear/anxiety than I’d like and more actually than I’d anticipated. I have to just be okay with that, I guess.

      I bought my doppler on ebay. It was very reasonable. I am philosophically in a “low intervention” pregnancy and birth camp and so it has been interesting to me how I’ve “flipped” and feel so reassured by my doppler. Seriously, it is the best thing that I have/have done as far as feeling secure in this pregnancy–every day that I know the baby is alive is another day where I can find some peace/excitement. I’ve also been helped by journaling, art, and talking to friends. And, writing this blog (and my other regular birth blog as well).

      Best wishes with your journey–pregnancy after loss (PAL) is a whole new territory too and no feeling during it is a “wrong” feeling.

  8. Pingback: No “Safe” Point » The Amethyst Network

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