Samuel Johnson said “A second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.” That’s always been one of my favourite quotes, and the more I think about it the more I realize that you could say the same thing about pregnancy after miscarriage, and maybe especially after a mid-term miscarriage.
It’s taken a while, but I think I’m finally allowing the hope to win out, or at least to garner a foothold. I’m 12 weeks today, and popular opinion seems to be that the risk of miscarriage falls to less than 5% once the first trimester is complete. It’s a bit of a cold comfort for someone who has defied the odds not once but twice with miscarriages at 13.5 and 16 weeks, but I’ll take whatever comfort I can.
I haven’t been posting much about the pregnancy, partly because I would have been doing a lot of whining. I haven’t been feeling great, which some might say is a good sign but I take more as a sign that I’m getting too old for this shit. But mostly, I’ve been taking the famous and favoured “la la la, I don’t hear you” approach to this pregnancy – that is, I’m ignoring it until I’m forced to do otherwise. I mean, I’m taking good care of myself and everything, but I spent the first ten weeks or so numbed by vacillating ambivalence, exhaustion, and abject terror. It was simply easier and less stressful to not think about it.
What I really appreciate is how the people around me have taken their cues from me. I haven’t really wanted to talk about the pregnancy, let alone the possibility that it could very well end in the birth of an actual baby, very much at all. Every time I spoke about it, I cringed internally, maybe feeling like I was tempting fate or maybe just not yet ready to believe with my whole heart. (And you think I’ve been hedging – I’m a rampant optimist compared to Beloved, who has been patient and indulgent to my complete lack of energy and ongoing miserableness without actually letting himself buy into the pregnancy… yet.)
It’s getting easier – and, frankly, a bit of a relief – to be able give myself over to my natual optimism again, even if it’s incrementally. At 12 weeks I am starting to feel less simply wretched and more pregnant. I can feel the bulge of my uterus when I lean against the counter or lie on my stomach, and I can see it even through my clothes. Not long now and other people will be able to see it, too, and that makes me happy. I always liked the public part of being pregnant, how it confers a special status on you and sets you apart from the crowd. (It’s shameless how Leo I am sometimes.)
Baby’s about the size of my thumb now, according to Baby Centre (which I read through splayed fingers, still caught between detachment and delight) and finally looks human instead of like something you’d dip in cocktail sauce or sautÃ© in garlic butter. Baby has fingers and toes and eyelids, and waves its little arms and legs doing intrauterine gymnastics just like its big brothers.
And it will remain firmly an “it” in my head with no gender speculation whatsoever on my part until six weeks from now when I can find out definitively whether it has indoor or outdoor plumbing. Even though I’m slowly capitulating to optimism, that’s too big of a leap of faith for me at this point. I simply can’t think about it. Once it has a gender and appears safe and healthy after the Integrated Prenatal Screening test results are in and the 18 week ultrasound shows everything is fine – that’s when I’ll let out this breath I’ve been holding since the end of May. Kind of like not letting your kids name the stray kitten they’ve found when you have no intention of letting them keep it, I think. Once it has a gender, once other people can see it, and once I can feel it moving – that’s when it will become real to me. Until then, I’ll keep joy at arm’s length where I can feel its warmth but where I can drop it in a hurry if I have to.
Ugh, this is coming out so much more morbidly depressing than I intended. Must be the dreariness of the pouring rain outside that’s dampening what was supposed to be a fairly upbeat and enthusiastic post. My point is that even though I’ve been mired in doubt and anxiety, I feel better now. Really, I do! I have another ultrasound on Monday, which will definitely help me feel more secure. And with every week that passes (how lovely to be pregnant in the summertime, when time flits past like a warm breeze on the beach) lets me turn my face more fully toward the sun, and to bask in the glow of what I find increasingly difficult to deny.
You can’t keep an infernal optimist down for long.