Continuing to improve in my re-framing of this infant made of a donor egg. I’d say very close to exactly where I need to be. Which is to say, the donor thing is becoming almost a simple detail- of-her-story, overshadowed by anticipation to meet her, hope that we get to have her. A considerable improvement from the majority of the pregnancy thus far, but a space which also feels very, very dangerous.
It’s FASCINATING to me how many baby loss mom blogs I’ve read recently who are gestationally within a week or two of us with their rainbow babies, writing about how they’re not at all sure this is going to work out, that they’ll really have a baby at the end to take home. And how conflicted their emotions are, fearful of being overwhelmed at the birth of this new baby with grief over the child they lost. How to manage the avalanche of anticipated emotion - joy/sorrow, gratitude/pain, wonder/loss. How not to rob this precious little one of the love and fawning they deserve in the shadow of their absent sibling.
So I wonder a bit how much of my fear and anxiety over not bonding completely can simply be chalked up to having lost our firstborn, regardless of genetic contribution. It certainly seems I’m no different in that regard to any other desperately hoping and scared brainless mother-to-be-of-a-baby-who-died out there. (It’s super-interesting to me too, how all the entries seem to be coming in the same time frame. There must be something about hitting the third trimester that brings us all to an It’s Coming mentality, wondering if we’ll win the prize this time or go home shells of ourselves, again.) The other important piece is the stories I’ve heard from women who, regardless of having lost a previous baby or not, said they didn’t bond with their second as ferociously and immediately as their first. I’m trying to really listen to those women, to hold those accounts close in case it happens, in hopes of minimizing any guilt and shame should it occur.
What’s funny (in a not-so-funny-at-all way), is the fear that we’ll lose this baby too is filling up the psycho-emotional space available from putting the genetic conundrum in its rightful place. Now that I have a handle on that subject, I’m fully vested in this baby. I want to see her, hold her, kiss her all over as much as I want, rub my face in her belly, and coo ridiculously while changing her diaper. I want pincer grasps and crawling and first foods and first steps. I want cookie making, art producing, easter egg hunting, first days of school. I want thousands of pictures documenting her everyday. I want it all. So suddenly I’m on heightened alert for her every movements. Yesterday and today I’ve been concerned she isn’t moving as much as is ‘normal’ for her, despite a great 28-week check up this last Tuesday. Doing kick counts more regularly. Fighting the urge to actually succumb to the freak-out and go get her checked. Which over the weekend means a trip to the L&D department at the hospital - much more involved than popping into the clinic for a quick well-baby check. On the other hand, how much is instinct telling me something is wrong as opposed to Fear? How many blogs have I read where instinct was right but they talked themselves out of it, only to have their worst fears come true when they did go in? Pardon my french here, but it’s a total mind-f***. It just is.
We’ve graduated to weekly appointments that include nonstress tests and biophysicals, so if I can just make it week to week.
Last Monday Brad and I attended the Pregnancy After Loss support group, run by the same incredible woman who runs the Infant Loss group and whom we have known for over two years now. A month ago there was a couple just a few weeks out from their scheduled c-section, a couple who had lost their first born due to a prolapsed cord during delivery. The mom was FULL of stress and voiced similar outlooks and feelings to my own (“I’m a lighting rod for bad things when it comes to babies”, “Statistics do NOT comfort me”, etc). Having missed the last session, I figured we may not see them again as they were to have had their baby by this last meeting. Turns out they walked into the same elevator as us, carrying a carseat. It took a few seconds to register - her belly was not as full - there was a little smile on her face - the carseat had a baby in it. They had made it!!! And were coming to share with us! It was the first experience since we’ve been pregnant ourselves that we’ve gotten to witness “a colleague” getting to the other side successfully. And that little bugger was cute, I’m telling you. All kinds of hair, teeny, squeaking, and out for the count, which made passing him around easy. (Brad was the first one to take him, which melted me.) I’d thought that they were just there to say they’d made it, but we actually talked about their birth experience, which was really good to hear. She’d been concerned about the baby’s status (sound familiar?) and was going to make sure he was okay only to be told she was in early labor! They kept her throughout the day as they couldn’t schedule the c-section until that evening since she had just eaten. So she labored for several hours until the surgery. Surgery was routine, baby was born, cried right away, a “normal” c-section delivery. But she was one of those that didn’t bond right away, didn’t feel that rush of love that she did with her deceased firstborn. Still hadn’t, 11 days later. “I love him, but it’s not the same.” The leader of the group chimed in to remind us that her experience 22 years ago had been the same. They said they didn’t sleep - at all - for the first two days, too scared they’d wake up to find him not breathing. There was alot of emotion after his birth, mourning their firstborn. But here they were, functioning, breathing, as content as could be given the circumstances (sleep-deprived, emotional roller coaster rides, etc). The most significant thing for me was how different the mother looked. I would not have described her expression as taut, strained, or pinched before. But now, in the after? Absolutely. The woman before me was serene, peaceful, flowing. A totally different energy than the woman who presented before this baby was born. THAT, more than anything, is what I pray for. To know that expression in myself again. Because there’s only one way it’s gonna happen, folks. And that’s for this baby to get here safe and sound.