I’m not massively keen on the word ‘loss’ when describing death. I’m pretty sure that losing my keys feels very different to my miscarriages, or my son’s death. Plus, I know where they are. They’re not misplaced, waiting to be found. They’re gone, forever. Although RD still feels so incredibly present, the fibres of his soul sewn into every part of me, of us, that he’s not lost. I can find him everywhere.
So really, this is pregnancy after a lot of terrible and difficult life experience. An experience that tells me currently bad things happen, and can keep happening. My own fault for being an eternal optimist. Or someone who keeps getting back up and trying to move forward, at least for now, with the view that nobody gets to the end scot free. I’d rather be pig headed and seemingly reckless at times, because I don’t want my epitaph to read that this was a life half lived.
This pregnancy is hard. It’s so present in spite of my attempts to distance myself from it, a conscious reaction to try and soften the hurt that I’ve learned to know will come. It makes my clothes not fit earlier, food to taste weirder, things to smell abhorrent at times: sorry new dog and husband.
I make decisions not to project too far forward. Not to think beyond each tiny step. The threat of Christmas eclipsed by the 20 week scan today. Thoughts that if that trap door opens again, this could be a Christmas spent in hospital, again. But this time for me, off my t*ts on drugs knowing that I would be birthing a cryless soul.
Or, the threat of complications. Of more invasive tests. Of large needles puncturing my swollen abdomen. Of interminable waits for results filled with worry. Decisions being placed in front of us in small rooms with hard, faux leather sofas.
I should point out that I have a very different view of ‘complications’ now. It doesn’t mean I’m naive, but as a direct example, it’s put me on a one woman mission to make it awkward for them to tick a box during ‘routine screening’. Here’s my beef: currently you can choose to select to be either screened or not screened for the three main trisomies: Down Syndrome, Patau Syndrome or Edward Syndrome. What does this do psychologically to the unitiated on disability? It groups them together as having equal gravity. And yet they are as similar as Brie, Camembert and chalk. So I have insisted, whilst explaining my point calmly, that I wish to be tested on two trisomies, but not Down Syndrome. The two that are currently considered extremely life limited. And that’s because for us, forewarned is forearmed in terms of exacerbated grief. And yet, RD has taught us that we can not only be parents of a child with intellectual and physical disabilities. We can all thrive from it.
“Will you find out what you’re having?”
“Yes. First step, hopefully still live. Second step, healthy.”
We dare not dream of worrying about something so seemingly insignificant as gender. And yet of course, it’s not insignificant. It’s the start of connection, hope and dreams. The thought of what comes after RD and DD, and the babies gone between.
Today I got to find out. We passed A and B swiftly and easily, as I’d only dare dreamed of before. This baby making themselves so present still, so strong. At the words of the sonographer “I may need you to come back just to get a better view of the heart”, they flipped and turned, presenting it proudly to the probe. Wolf has chosen not to know, and we respect each other’s choices.
Whether ultimately good or bad news, shock causes the same visceral reaction. The extreme high or low, followed by disbelief, followed by the ebbing away of adrenaline leaving you exhausted and not sure which way the top is.
So I write this under a blanket watching Frozen, DD cuddled in one side, Eric the dog warming my right flank and my eyes staring unblinking from time to time at RD’s photo on the mantelpiece. Wondering how on earth we’re here, or how this is my current reality. A warm glow cooled by a marked absence, not loss.
I’m still not sure I have renewed hope. I suspect I will lurch through this pregnancy, never fully believing in its ultimate success. Because that success will always mark a gap in us all. But for now I’ll take some of the lightness it brings, and hold on to the continuation of a path we’re on.