I'm there, at that magical line in the sand. Actually, I've stepped over it. "It" is the 24-week mark, which is the point at which I lost Thomas. I had imagined that when I passed that point in this pregnancy I would sigh a nice big sigh of relief and wipe my brow in a big sweeping gesture to wipe away the mock sweat.
But, in the words of Terry McMillan, I'm still waiting to exhale.
Apparently, crossing that line comes with a bit more baggage. I think that over the past year I did a lot of healing by taking time off to try and recover from all of my losses. It gave me time to mourn Thomas, John, and Todd in a way I hadn't allowed myself before. I am so grateful I took that time. But I must have told myself that I was over that part now. Big lie.
As I passed this week in a hotel in lovely, scenic Buffalo, I had time to reflect on what was happening to me nearly two years ago with Thomas. I remember nearly every detail of those days when we stayed in a hotel in Houston, but certain things stand out more clearly than the others.
The first is showering. I remember spending a lot of time holding my naked belly in the shower and praying that I could find a way just to keep him in there where he was, for the moment, safe. I wanted time to stop. I wanted someone else (like God) to make this decision for me. I wanted something fateful to take the responsibility that had been placed on me away. Mostly, I just wanted to keep him.
Instead, I had to settle for talking to him while I swayed back and forth and let the water wash away the never-ending tears.
I also remember the trip home on Thanksgiving Day. We stopped at a fast food restaurant (I can't even recall which one) for lunch. It was full of people, which surprised me. I sat at the table and tried to choke down whatever I had ordered. I was starving after that 18 hour labor, but it still tasted like sawdust. Right across from me was a boy, about four. The chairs were those kind that older fast-food joints have that swivel. No kid, and hardly any adult, can resist swishing back and forth in those things while they eat their fries. I watched him talk to his dad and swing away. And then it hit me. The big freak out. I felt a sorrow come over me unlike anything I could ever describe. I got up and headed for the door, hoping to get out before my first sob escaped. I ran to the car and leaned against it while I melted and waited for my parents and husband to catch up.
My mom and I sat in the back seat. I laid my head in her lap and cried giant, rib-aching sobs. They were the kind that make you worry for your own sanity, that make you wonder if you aren't really breaking in some un-fixable way. In the close quarters of the car, I knew that my family's hearts were breaking, too. It must be unbearable to hear you wife or daughter hurt that way. But I was mourning the loss of all that my son might have been - for all of the chairs he wouldn't swing in and the fried he'd never eat - as well as for the man he might have been had fate not struck us so soundly.
Eventually, my mother's rocking and hair-stroking managed to calm me down. But for all of my tear-soaked moments that came later, that one was the one.
So, with all of these memories floating around, my epiphany was this: I cannot sigh yet because I know what could still happen. And although I knew I could deal with loss (what with my proven track record) up to 24 weeks, I don't know if I could deal with it even later.
I tried to look at it in logical terms. I have patterns of dealing with grief now. I have a good support system. I know that at least with this baby I won't have to make the choice I did with Thomas. But that didn't seem to do the trick. Because I also know about the cumulative factor. People tend to think that if you've survived one miscarriage, then you'll be better equipped to get through subsequent ones. Not true. They have a cumulative effect. It gets worse each time. So how am I to know that I wouldn't just crumble into dust and blow away if something were to happen to my Banana? Or worse yet, what if I didn't crumble, and just stayed here suffering through it all?
So, although I am beyond grateful every minute of the day for the time I'm being granted with this baby, it isn't the big party here that I thought it would be. (What a shocker! Life not conforming to my expectations!)
I hope this doesn't leave everyone with the impression that I'm sad or living in fear - because I'm not. I'm buying baby clothes like mad and talking in terms of "when", not "if". We're even picking out paint color for the baby's room. I just wanted to be honest with myself and with you about where I am in all of this. And it's a good place - just different, that's all.